Bangladesh Adventures

Monday, May 05, 2008

We Made It- Annapurna Base Camp at 13,800 ft

From 18 March to 4 April we where in Nepal on a trekking expedition to Annapurna Base Camp. Involved 11 days of hiking, up and down from 3,900 feet in Pohkara to 13,800 feet at Annapurna Base Camp (ABC). It took us 7 days to get up to ABC and 4 days back to down. Nita did a great job but says she will not go trekking again- too much walking up and down. Or as they say in Nepal, “Nepal flat is a little bit up and little bit down.”

We had a big party with us. My cousin Tricia came from PA to join us plus our friends here in Bangladesh, a family of 6. So that was 5 adults, Tricia, Nita, Gary, Ruth, and me, plus the children 2 @ 13 yrs old, 2 @ 11 yrs old, 2 @ 8 yrs old; and 2 @ 4 years old. Actually CJ celebrated his 5th birthday at our goal ABC! The kids were Charles, Jonah, Chase, Hannah, Chad, Marta, CJ and Gracia. That is 13 people plus 3 porter for a total trekking party of 16 people!

Day 1: We took a van from Pokhara to Nayapul at 3,000 feet. From Nayapul we trekked to Birethanti where we had to stop and register with the Annapurna Conservation Area. From there we went to Tikhedhungga at 4,900 feet. Everybody walked well even C.J. but it was a lot of up and down. We spent the night at a nice guest house and had Lentil and rice for supper. We were on the trail from 10:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. You don’t go by distance but time when its so much up and down.

Day 2: We put in a long day today from 8 a.m. to 4:30 but made it to Ghorepani at 9,600 feet with beautiful views of the Mountains. We started with very steep stone staircase. We went through unbelievable forests of oak and rhododendron. The rhododendrons are as big as the oak trees just filled with blossoming flowers. The flowers were bright reds and pinks. We hit the perfect season for rhododendrons. I just couldn’t believe how big they were, considering ours in Pennsylvania are more like big bushes. We passed long caravans of pack horses carry goods up the trail. In the morning we had a spectacular view of the Himalayans Mountains. We had views of the back side of Annapurna South and Machhapuchhare both near 24,000 feet.

Day 3: We went over Deurali Pass at 10,400 feet we ended up at Chuile at 7,200 feet. Remember 8 children are doing all this hiking and not complaining. We trekked from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. we had steep trail both up and down plus thru landslide slate area. The normal day consited of getting up at 6 to 6:30 packing up, eating breakfast of fried bread with honey and getting on the trail by 8:30. We would then hike to 10 a.m. take a tea break from there walk to 1 for a good 1 to 1.5 hour lunch and then finish up hiking around 4:30 p.m.

Day 4: 9 a.m to 4 p.m. on the trial up to Sinuwa lots of ups/downs and ended at 7,400 feet. We passed Chhomrong the last permanent village on the way to ABC. That means in the winter time people don’t live past Chhomrong. We went over a suspension bridge and thru more Rhododendron Forest. It was getting cold but no snow yet. At the end of hiking everyday the kids would play some sort of sports game with a ball while the parents had tea or coffee and relaxed- say sore muscles.

Day 5: Walked thru a thick bamboo forest today. Made it to Dovan at 8,400 feet. We hiked from 8:30 to 2 p.m. Rest was needed.

Day 6: (getting close to the goal) We hike to Deurali at 10,200 feet, it is now cold and the kids made their first snowman in four years. Tricia’s knee was really hurting so this is where she stayed for day 7 and 8 as we made the push to ABC. At night we all stayed in the common room. The kids played card games as we talked to other hikers. There was one big table with a blanket around the outside and a gas heater underneath. You would put your legs under the blanket to stay warm. The sleeping bags where zipped up when you slept but everybody stayed warm. The rooms had two small wooden beds with thin mattresses. We pushed them together to fit more people on them. Nita, Chad, CJ and I slept in one room with Tricia and the other two in another room. COLD water and an Asian toilet was available outside. Hiked 8:30 to 12:30.

Day 7: (the big day) Now we are in the altitude sickness area. We left at 6 a.m. one of the porters fell with CJ while they were crossing a stream of rocks and cold water. This was about 8 a.m. I carried CJ the rest of the way. He was not a happy camper- cold, wet and a little scared. The Porter passed out because of the pain in his knee but came around and made it to ABC. Once we decided to keep going I walked fast- 50 lb plus pack and CJ on my shoulders but wanted to get to Machhapuchhare Base Camp the only place to have breakfast and hopefully dry CJ out was. I made it to MBC by 10 a.m. and the sun was out in full strength so I dried his cloths, warmed him up with sunshine and hot chocolate. The rest of the gang made it and we had a nice breakfast of homemade bread and jelly. It took us 2 hours of up hill hiking to make it to Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) at 13,800 feet!!!!! We made it!! Even Nita made it but she wouldn’t talk to me. We made it to ABC by 12 noon.

We were now in the bowl of many high mountain, close enough to reach out and touch the bases of them all- BEAUTIFUL! From the ABC we where at the base of Hun Chuli- 21,232ft; Annapurna South- 23,822; Annapurna 1- 26,700ft; Annapurna 3-24,931; Machhapuchhre- 23,090ft; and right beside the South Annpurna Glacier and glacial moraine.

The kids used plastic sheets and Charles’ snow-skate (like a skate board but made for snow- he carried it the whole way up and down lashed onto his backpack) to sled the entire afternoon- they came into the lodge room soaking wet and ice cold but what do you want after waiting 4 years to get back on snow. If the truth be told that is what kept the trekking- the thought of seeing snow- they all miss it. At night we celebrated CJ’s fifth birthday- no cake so we put his candles on a coke can- he was happy, loves soda. Everybody in the lodge sang Happy birthday to him. It was cold and we all used heavy blankets on-top of our sleeping bags. We didn’t have altitude sickness but we all had headaches from being so high.

Day 8: Time to turn around and head down. We had clear skies for spectacular views of the nearby mts. We took lots of pictures and started back to pick up Tricia by 9:15 a.m. arrived for Tricia in time for an early lunch and then walked to Bamboo at 7,600 feet in the rain/overcast. Going down was rough on peoples’ knees and Gary ended up loosing both big toenails by the time we returned to Bangladesh. In fact, on the last day on the trail he had to wear my good sandals (teva-wraptors) because his feet hurt so bad. Both of Ruth’s toes turned dark purple. So it was tough going down, down, down. Thanks the Lord I had good boots that saved my feet 100%. If any body remembers back in 1988 I trekked 150 miles around the Annapurna Circuit with more than 20 blisters. I learned my lesson back then- always have proper foot wear. The circuit went around the outside of the big peaks. This time we went up into the middle of the peaks. We stopped trekking at 4:30 a.m.

Day 9: 8:30 to 4:30 but with a bonus we spent the night at Jhinu that has hot springs. Oh! Did the hot springs near a roaring freezing mountain stream feel good after walking hard for 9 days. Jhinu is at 5,800 feet. We met two very nice men from Israel on the hike and spent a good time with them at the hot springs. Most, no all trekkers couldn’t believe we brought our children with us- 8 at that! But to tell you the truth they all did great.

Day 10: Made it down to Syauli Bajar at 4,200 feet as I said Nepali flat means lots of ups and downs. Carried CJ a lot he was running out of steam. Had some steep ravines, steep stairs (didn’t make Tricia happy- sore knee) and went thru some nice orchids and ferns areas.

Day 11: Final day on the trail. Trekked from 8:30 to 11 a.m. to Nayapul where we caught a jeep back to Pokhara. CJ said, “I’m done hiking!”

We spent a day in Pokara and then took the 8 hour bus ride back to Katmandu. We spent two days wondering around Katmandu. We walked to Durbar Square which is the heart of the ancient city of Katmandu. It has old temples both Hindu and Buddhist built between the 12th and 18th centuries. We also spent time walking around the shopping district for tourist- all sorts of hand made stuff. I bought a very nice hemp shirt that is suppose to last a life time and get better after every washing.

I probably had the best time of all 13 people- I love to be in the mountains trekking but it was a colossal adventure for everybody and we made our goal of ABC at 13,400 feet!!!!!!!