Annapurna Circuit: Day 10 – Thorong Phedi to Muktinath.

Saturday 23rd December 2017.

Right. This day was the big day. The highest and pivotal point of the trek. The Thorong-La pass connects the Manang district with Mustang district and traverses the saddle between the peak of Yakwakang (6462m) and Torong Peak(6144m) and we were going over it!

After a cold night, we were up at 3am ready for breakfast and to begin trekking. We walked slow up to Thorong High Camp (4,880 metres/16,010 ft) where I had a cup of tea to warm myself up. I don’t know why I didn’t get any photos of the High Camp at this point, probably because there wasn’t much to see in the dark and staying warm inside the building was important at that point as it was in minus temperatures outside.

Trekking in the dark up a steep slope seems so much easier when you cannot see where you’re going- as I hadn’t done the walk the previous day I don’t know what the views are like, just that the ground is steep until you reach the High Camp. I felt a bit sad at missing out and not being able to look back but, frankly, I’d rather not look up a see how steep it is! Just plod on…

The sun begun to shine behind the mountains at about 5am causing a warm glow over the trail. There was snow and ice beyond High Camp and at one point we had to walk over it with a sharp long drop on the other… you can just see it in the first picture. I felt this was the most dangerous point of the whole trek as one slip would see you sliding down on rocky ground…

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As we trekked higher the snow and ice on the trail disappeared quickly and we were able to see further ahead. I was counting the prayer flag on the poles which lined our route to keep me entertained as no one was talking, just concentrating on walking. The headache I had encountered the day before had gone – this was probably due to the excitement I was feeling – but as we got closer to the pass a light headache did appear which I wasn’t too worried about as we’d be walking down soon enough.

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The trail after High Camp was gentle and easy to follow, sadly there were many, many ‘false summits’ that gave the impression you were very close…

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BUT…at just around 9am the prayer flags on the pass were visible in the distance. We’d made it. 5416m high, 17,769 ft high. I was elated.

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Our gruides, Bikash Tamang, Lapka (?), Lapka Sherpa.

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Many many pictures were taken. It was just us and one other trekker and his guides on top of the pass. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like at the height of the trekking season – the little hut on top would certainly be open that’s for sure!
Our guides were pleasantly surprised at how mild it was for December weather and told use we had been fortunate. There was very little snow on the ground and no ice – the next part, the descent, would be easy for us and without complications. So, we begun the long trek down with views of snow-capped peaks and the great chasm of Kali Gandaki (2500m) in front of us. In total, we were to lose 1800m in altitude at this point…

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I lost track of how long it took us to walk down to the lunch stop. It was relentless and hard going on the knees and it was only due to get a little bit steeper at this point… the sheep didn’t mind our presence…

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The sign for Muktinath soon appeared and we knew there wasn’t much longer to go. Muktinath is a sacred place for both Hindus and Buddhists and many make pilgrimages there to visit the central shrine of Sri Muktinath. You can see a helicopter pad in one of the photos – this is because worshipers/tourist take a 45 minute helicopter flight from Jomson to visit the temple, unfortunately many get alitiude sickness due to the quick increase in altitude…

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Tired but happy, we welcomed this fancy hotel room and its fabulous view! The shower was hot, the bed was spacious and comfortable and we were able, finally, not to sleep in our sleeping bags but under a proper duvet. It’s the little things in life…

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Annapurna Circuit: Day 11 – Muktinath to Kagbeni.

Just Joanne.

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