- 1 - Besisahar to Khudi: Most People Walk Further to Work
- 2 - Who Says Trekking in Nepal Has to Involve Lots of Walking?
- 3 - Conquering the Annapurna Circuit’s First Hill
- 4 - Trek to Jagat and a Rant Against Guides on the Annapurna Circuit
- 5 - Jagat to Tal: Our First Real Day of Trekking
- 6 - Tal to Chame: Falling into a Trekking Routine
- 7 - Chame to Pisang: Just Takin’ the Goat for a Walk
- 8 - A Well-Deserved Day Off in Upper Pisang
- 9 - Pisang to Ngawal: A Hard Climb to Beautiful Views
- 10 - Drinking Yak Sewage in Ngawal
- 11 - Arriving In Manang…Two Weeks Later Than Most
- 12 - Trekking On Our Day Off From Trekking in Manang
- 13 - Annoying Trekker Abuses Friendly Guesthouse Owner
The next day of our little stroll through the hills of Nepal was dominated by a humongous slab of rock. At least that’s the main thing I remember. That and the fact that we actually passed someone! Yes, it’s true! But more on that later. The day was actually fairly long and for the first time, we covered just as much ground as many of the slower trekkers. It helped that there weren’t any overly difficult sections, with the path climbing gradually, but never too steeply.
As usual, we started early with an average breakfast. To be fair, I don’t actually remember what I had or how it was, but I’m assuming it was average since most of them were. The one thing I do remember is that the guy I was trekking with ordered a couple of plain chapatti and slathered them in Nutella and I only remember this because that’s basically what he had for every meal over the next few days, until the giant jar of chocolate he had gotten for his birthday the night before was empty.
After breakfast we set out and were immediately reminded why it’s good to get going early. The first rays of sunlight lit up the white peaks, while everything else remained cloaked in darkness.
Leaving the town of Chame, we found ourselves behind a family taking their goat for a walk. It was attached to a leash led by a middle-aged Tibetan woman with a baby strapped to her back. Her other son was following a few steps behind, constantly distracted by every rock and leaf and particle of air. The goat actually seemed very obedient, which surprised me. I figured any attempt at walking a goat, would end up with the animal planting its hooves firmly in the dirt as it is dragged along the road, but this one at least, was much better behaved than any dog I’ve ever walked. It even followed the woman up a few steep steps and onto a swaying bridge without the slightest hesitation.
It was not so well-behaved when the woman gave the leash to her son, although that was mostly his fault. Distracted as he was by absolutely everything, he seemed to forget he was supposed to be holding onto something and within minutes the goat was running off down the road, dragging the leash loosely behind. Luckily, they were able to recapture it fairly quickly. For some reason, the woman gave the leash right back to her son a short while later and within a minute, the goat was free again.
Catching it proved much more difficult this time around, since it took off into the forest and went prancing among the trees. It took so long to get the goat that the unthinkable happened: we overtook the whole family and even managed to leave them so far in our dust that we actually lost sight of them! I’m sure some of you will want to point out that the people we passed were a mother carrying a baby, a small boy and a goat, but I think you should let us have our victory. It was the first time we passed anyone.
For the first part of the morning, we stayed close to the Marsyangdi River, leaving it only occasionally to walk through some fields or to pass through a tiny village.
Whenever we gained some altitude and rose above the river, we invariably had to climb all the way back down to cross it. The newly built metal suspension bridges that are found all along the trek were missing from this section, so we had to descend even further, all the way to the water’s edge, to cross two old wooden bridges, the second of which looked like it had been thrown together earlier that day.
After the last of these crossings, we climbed up away from the river again and soon found ourselves next to a gigantic rock wall. For the next few hours, we walked through a forest of pine and fir, with the wall constantly visible through the trees to our right. Words and photos can’t express just how massive this thing was. It hugged the other side of the river and followed it around a bend, so that it was actually next to us and ahead of us at the same time.
A claustrophobic town, little more than a few guesthouses and restaurants, sits right at the bend in the river, with the massive wall threatening on two sides. Since the wall is basically one solid slab of rock, I don’t think the inhabitants have to worry about avalanches during the warmer months, but I imagine a mountain of snow could come crashing down quite easily in the winter. I would be worried if I lived there.
The weather seemed perfect and we decided to sit outside and have some lunch. A strong and unceasing wind almost made us regret that decision, making it impossible to even open and read the flimsy menus. Not that it mattered—they were virtually identical to every other menu along the trek and we’d memorized all the standard offerings long ago. As for the wind, it would be our constant companion over the next week, since the wall works to guide it around the bend in the river and fire it up the next valley.
I actually remember the food in this town, since the restaurant we chose served the best pizza I ate the entire trek. True, it was one of the only pizzas I ate during the trek, but I had learned long ago that good pizza is very hard to come by in Nepal, so it’s a fairly safe assumption to at least rank this one near the top. It wasn’t even especially good either; it was simply better than the standard offering, because they used a slightly spicier ketchup-type sauce than the sickly sweet versions found on most pizzas in the country.
We didn’t have much further to go after lunch and basically just had to follow the best-kept road of the entire trek to the town of Lower Pisang.
Of course, where there’s a Lower Pisang, there’s also an Upper Pisang and as the name might suggest, it lies a hundred to two hundred meters higher up the side of the valley, resulting in much better views. It was also much more charming, so that’s where we were heading.
While Lower Pisang has an abundance of newly built guesthouses, the upper part of town consists of a smattering of traditional stone structures, only three of which accept guests. It was one of the only places along the trek where finding a bed was a bit difficult—and a bit frustrating thanks to one greedy guesthouse owner. The town itself was lovely, though and we ended up staying two nights. On the second, we had our first encounter with easily the most annoying people of the entire trek. I’ll save the annoyances—both greedy owners and stingy, arrogant trekkers—for the next part in this series.
Series continued in part 8: A Well-Deserved Day Off in Upper Pisang