After a good night of sleep we’re up early again for the long hike to Thorong Phedi. The sun is there as every day and I enjoy the great view from the window of my room. Would it be like 20 degrees warmer I really could hang around longer everywhere and just enjoy the nature. But with these cold temperatures (especially at night) you just have to keep on hiking.
After a porridge breakfast I quickly start to hike together with my guide. I want to get to Thorong Phedi today. We are now at 3,700m altitude and Thorong Phedi is at 4,420m. Only the Thorong La High Camp is about 400m higher and hence closer to the Thorong La Pass, but that would too much effort for one day (and it would be even colder to sleep there!). As there will be plenty of up and downs during the day, the overall altitude hiked will be much more. The start is quite exhausting as we have to walk uphill for some time: But at the top we get rewarded with one of the most beautiful views of this trek, overlooking Manang valley. It’s breathtaking and I take a break to enjoy this perfect view.
Then it’s gently downhill which could be easy without the icy parts! Part of the trail is completely covered in ice and challenging for me, even with my hiking sticks (as you basically cannot even put the hiking sticks in icy ground!). For once I am very happy to have my guide, just so he can get help if I break my leg or roll down the mountain 🙂 I only know that a couple is behind me somewhere, otherwise there is no one else sharing the trail on this side of the mountain. Everyone else is coming from Manang as they didn’t take the detour to Tilicho Lake. We are now walking down, crossing the bridge and up again until we reach the “regular” Annapurna Circuit track again. And at Yak Kharka we are getting a well deserved lunch, my favourite of the entire track: veggie burger made with chaptai bread and accompanied by freshly made french fries. I almost never eat this at home but I love how they prepare it here in Nepal for the tourists like me 🙂
There is still a few hours to hike to Thorong Phedi including again a river crossing on a bridge (I don’t mind the bridges too much, it just means descending and ascending again, which is now pretty exhausting as we are already very high). I am baffled when we meet 3 mountain bikers on their way to Thorong Phedi as well. They are carrying their bikes as the trail is too difficult to navigate cycling. It never occured to me that you could do the Annapurna Circuit by bike! However, on the other side of the pass we will meet 2 Australian guys also on bike, negotiating their way in the opposite direction.
How exciting to be at Thorong Phedi, so close to the pass! And I am wondering where all these people came from, suddenly we are a bunch of hikers relaxing in the dining room around the fire. A few came down from the pass that day and I am particularly impressed to meet an Australian buddhist monk whose teacher is Ajan Brahm. I love his wisdom and his books which are inspiring and entertaining. I am quite happy that I don’t have any altitude issues such as headaches that a few others are experiencing. Except for the difficulties of catching breath while hiking, I feel perfectly fine. We are up again for a Dhal Bhat as dinner to have enough strength for crossing the pass in the early morning. It will again be a freezing night well under 0°C… with frozen water bottles. But thanks to my sleeping bag + a blanket I am not cold while in bed.