18 Dec 2017
4 min read
I never fancied myself a hiker, nor have I been a particularly active guy. But when my friends started planning a trek to the Annapurna Base Camp, I knew I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity. I joined in on the planning, and we were soon ready to roll.As had been planned, our bus left from Jamal at seven, on a chilly January morning. The weather was pretty cold, and we were bracing ourselves for the even colder and harsher temperatures that we would soon find ourselves in. After a six-hour ride, we reached Pokhara; we dropped our bags at our hotel and went for a quick stroll around town. It felt nice to be taking things slow after the rather fast bus ride. We beheld the Annapurna mountains, which formed the backdrop for the city. The mountains looked like an enchanted snow-capped land from some fairy tale, and we were totally stoked about the thought of being at the foot of those mountains in the next few days. The following day, at seven in the morning, we boarded a bus from Baglung bus park and left for Kimche. It was an exhausting two-hour-long drive from Pokhara, as we had to drive on the grotty graveled roads of Birethanti to get to Kimche, which was the end of the line for most means of transportation. From Kimche, we had to hike for an hour and a half to get to Ghandruk, where we planned to spend the night. We breathed a huge sigh of relief once we arrived at the trekkers’ inn, and couldn’t wait any longer to load on some carbs. The short hike under the blistering heat of the sun had been challenging in itself, but that ride to Kimche had left us famished. We, however, chose to not think about the fatigue and focused instead on Ghandruk’s unique, traditional charms and on the view of the majestic Annapurna range before us. The next day, after a solid breakfast, we left for our next stop—Sinuwa. With each step, we grew more and more accustomed to the ache in our muscles, but before long, the whole group had settled into a rhythm of sorts, hiking as though on autopilot. (Our routine for the larger part of the trek comprised walking at dawn, enjoying a carb fest, walking some more, feasting on dal bhat tarkari, consuming some more carbs and finally going to sleep.) It was an eight-hour march up to upper Sinuwa (2,360 metres), where the cold was almost unbearable. But the biting weather wasn’t the only ordeal we faced; the slow Wi-Fi connection was now our biggest concern. We had to intermittently turn on our cellular data to post a few pictures on Snapchat.
The trek was nothing short of an epic adventure. What seemed like the perfect opportunity to get close to nature also turned into a cultural experience for us, and we got an authentic taste of rural life.We followed the same ritual the next day, and headed towards Deurali (3,200 metres). The trek was tough, but the speaker (on which we were blasting music at full volume) and our conversations with one another helped keep our minds off our tiredness. We trudged through lush rhododendron forests, tiptoed beside icy waters, and even had a snowball battle under the cascading waterfalls. And as we neared our next stop, a colossal fog shrouded us. We resumed our uphill trek and soon arrived at Deurali. By the time we reached Deurali, all of us were really famished, so we treated ourselves to some soup and eggs, perfect for the weather. We were surprised by how well-stocked the guest houses were, with thick blankets, free Wi-Fi and scrumptious meals. The next morning, we were already celebrating the fact that we were nearing our destination. After feasting on some porridge, we trekked up snow-lined, slippery paths to the Annapurna Base Camp. We stuck to our usual trekking pace, and we even had enough time to build a snowman on our way up.
Finally getting to the finish line was like attaining nirvana. The auburn rays upon the Machhapuchhre mountains at dusk and the golden beams of light coating the Annapurna range at dawn made us feel like we had reached the land of the gods. It’s difficult to put into words the grandeur of this place. The sights we saw left us in awe, and reminded us of the teeny tiny role we play in the vastness of the world. The Annapurna Base Camp trek was every bit as great an adventure as we thought it would be. Sure, it was physically demanding, but we were proud to have gotten done with the trek in such a short span of time. And as cliched as this may sound, I must say here that the Annapurna Base Camp trek is a must for all trekking enthusiasts.