Annapurna Circuit Day 1
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Day 1

Annapurna Circuit Day 1

To Preface 

For those of you who are unaware, the Annapurna Circuit is a 200 kilometer route that winds around the Annapurna massif, culminating in the crossing of Thorong La pass at a beastly 5, 416 meters. I chose this trek for a variety of reasons. I am inexperienced with treks of this length and wanted a well-established route. The Annapurna Circuit is a world-renowned walk that attracts thousands of outdoor enthusiasts every year. Every few hours you pass through a small village; shelter, sustenance and and company are easily found. While you follow a designated route, you can decide where and when to stop for the evening. Each night, you sleep at a teahouse, a basic accommodation where food is served and perhaps a shower is available. As a first-time trekker, I thought the Annapurna Circuit would be the perfect introduction to such adventures.

Note: There are loads of perfectly competent and wonderful guides out there detailing every turn of the Annapurna Circuit. My posts on the Annapurna Circuit will not serve as guides but will rather aim to chronicle my experiences. The Annapurna Circuit guides are great… listen to them! They won’t lead you astray!

Day One: Day of the Rice Terraces

Every step on this first day felt like a gift. Every step was filled with the promise of what was around the corner, of what was to come. I can distinctly remember the feeling; I was in total awe of the experience in its entirety. My backpack was too heavy and with every step I took, the pack dug deeper and deeper into my shoulders. I was simply too ecstatic to care.

I’m on the Annapurna Circuit, I’m on the Annapurna Circuit!

Our Day 1 route wound through lush, overgrown rice terraces, across gushing streams and past countless waterfalls. We encountered chickens, goats and even our first yak! We were in the lowlands and we enjoyed the luxury of warm weather and even a few rays of sunshine. We had the company of the freshly rejuvenated, wild Marsygengi River rushing with white water.

Cass, Trevor and I easily fell into a rhythm walking with each other. Each of us preferred to walk alone, in meditative silence, and we naturally separated to give each other the solidarity to take in our surroundings.

I’m on the Annapurna Circuit, I’m on the Annapurna Circuit!

Simply being on the Annapurna Circuit felt like a feat in and of itself. I was over the freakin’ moon. Much to the amusement of my comrades, I actually began singing “Heaven” by Louis Armstrong. Out loud.

I’m on the Annapurna Circuit, I’m on the Annapurna Circuit!

“No one starts at Bhulbule anymore! It’s just not worth it. There are too many jeeps and the views just aren’t that great.”

“Take a jeep as far as you can. The faster to Manang, the better!”

Virtually everyone who had given me advice about the Annapurna Circuit had strongly suggested that I not begin the trek at Bhulbule. Boy, am I glad I didn’t listen to them! The general consensus was that the views further along the circuit would be more impressive and there was too much vehicular traffic to make the walk enjoyable. Other than one segment of the route, we were able to avoid the jeep roads. As for the scenery, each day of the circuit offers up totally different terrain. Day 1 was the day of the rice terraces. Sure, it’s not those magnificent white peaks that drew all of us here, but it’s certainly incredible and impressive in its own right.

We chose to walk far our first day, passing all of the suggested stops for the first day of walking. Upon reaching Jagat, the fourth, fifth, maybe even sixth town we had passed through that day, I was exhausted. I was totally ready to call it a night. Jagat smelled like a urinal, but there was WiFi!

Claire, WiFi on Day 1, c’mon!

My comrades wanted to push on to the next town.

One foot in front of the other. One foot in front of the other.

I’m on the Annapurna Circuit! I’m on the… yeesh!

Shortly after passing Jagat, we turned up a trail to the left to follow the old Chamje trail. Up, up, up it climbed. Our tired legs were taking a beating! We didn’t know it, but at this point we had already put in 18 kilometers for the day.

Taking this trail and continuing past Jagat was so worth it! We wended up at the Super Rainbow View Guesthouse and Restaurant. It was truly heaven! It is a solo guesthouse situated directly in front of a huge waterfall. As cliche as it sounds, the mountains towered above like castles in the sky.

After reaching our destination, it was time to strip down, kick up our legs and relax for the evening. One day down, lots more to go.

Guidebook Annotations:

Our hunger got the better of us and we stopped at the first restaurant in Ghermu. Do not follow our lead! If you continue further into Ghermu, you can catch a view of the awe-inspiring Syange waterfall while you get your grub on.

If there is any way to avoid the jeep-rubble-road and horrible switchbacks from Syange to Jagat, do it! They sucked.

The Super Rainbow View Guesthouse and Restaurant in Chamje is well worth the extra climb. The service is amazing and the view of the waterfall is unbeatable. Kicking your feet up, listening to the roar of the falls and sipping on a Nepali tea? Nothin’ better!

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