In case you missed days 1, 2 & 3, you can catch up starting here.
Thankfully, I woke up feeling a bit better than the worst day.
We left Chame early to try and beat the unpleasant crowds we had experienced on the worst day. Shortly after leaving Chame, we entered a dense pine forest. The wet weather persisted; fog and clouds shrouded the Himalayas in an ethereal blanket. It almost felt like I was back in The Bay Area! On either side of the trail, the mountains rose above, dissected and deeply carved by landslides and weather erosion. At times, we were walking directly in the path of probable disaster: it was unsettling and precarious at best.
One of the things that is so fantastic about the Annapurna Circuit is the diversity of terrain. Every day offers up refreshingly disparate visual treats. One day it’s lush, overgrown rice terraces and the next is rushing rivers and cascading waterfalls. Day 4 was day of the landslides!
I continued to struggle with ascending, still weak and unable to consume solid foods. After a relatively acceptable climb through the rain, we stopped for tea in a brand spankin new tea house and had a wood fire for the first time! Each day, the temperature would continue to drop as we ascended into the high Himalayas. We huddled around the heat source with fellow trekkers to warm up and attempt to dry out our sopping-wet gear. Something magical happens when everyone is gathered around a fire, commiserating on how smelly they are, how to manage their persistently-drenched clothes and how to simply make the experience bearable.
We ended the day at Upper Pisang, in a room booked by the English Brothers that we had met the evening before. Phillip and Richard, the aforementioned English Brothers, were concerned Upper Pisang would be fully booked upon our arrival. The miracle-workers that they were, Phillip and Richard were kind enough to find a way to call in advance (!?!?). There was a growing sense of anxiety as we got closer to Manang, the beginning of true high country.
There was a rumor circulating the circuit that Thorung La pass was blocked with snow and trekkers were having to stay put in Manang, provoking a chaotic blockage at the peak of Annapurna’s busiest season. Additionally, the Everest base camp hike was also inundated with snow, causing trekkers to divert their Everest plans to Annapurna. Basically, too many people, not enough shelter and nowhere to go, hence the building trepidation of what was waiting for us in the coming days.
Adding to the low moral was the weather. It was common knowledge that the next few days would, according the guidebooks, boast the best views ever. The weather needed to clear up so we could really see those Himalayan beauties!
Yana, of Peter and Yana, a Slovenian doctor-couple, exclaimed at one point, as about ten of us were huddled around the evening fire, “No, don’t say it’s ok. It’s not ok! We’ve planned this since March. Since before even March. And it’s all we’ve been looking forward to!”
And so, we all went to bed crossing our fingers and toes that tomorrow, Day 5, would bring rays of sunshine and baby blue skies.