The valley was completely covered in cloud when I peeked through the window this morning. I turned over in bed and went back to sleep. Fast forward to 10am the sun is out although clouds still drift by and I’ve finally gotten up and had some breakfast. Today’s walk will be a short one, less than two hours even if I stop everywhere for photos. In spite of the sun the forest is still wet, the rhododendron leaves shedding tiny beads of moisture that drip on the moss below. All to quick the trail enters Ghorepani where a policeman checks my trekking permit and in approval the clouds part and the Annapurna reveal themselves.
The sun is shining and there is hardly a cloud in the sky when I get up this morning, looks like a great day for hiking. Breakfast is a bowl of porridge and pot of tea both hot and with a lot of sugar. Then I set off. Immediately the trail climbs up amongst the hotels that make up Hile but after a few minutes it levels off and shortly after enters Tikhedunga. That’s where the real work starts. The trail now becomes a staircase and it’s 3500 gruelling steps are infamous amongst trekkers and I go slow, very slow and the view gets better all the time,eventually I reach Ullerri. Lunch is a mixed affair good company, two American couples who are on a two week holiday from their jobs with a tech company, but mediocre food with a Dal that is tasteless and a curry that is just boiled potatoes. After lunch the trail keeps going up but more gradual then in the morning weaving through rhododendron forests dripping wet and trees covered in lichen and moss with flowers red and pink. Clouds are all ready covering the hills whenI arrive in the small settlement of Banthanti my home for the night.
It’s a bit grey and overcast this morning but the hotel owner is cheerful as ever while she gets me a cup of sweet Nepali tea and her husband gets the car ready to take me to the start of the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) trek at Nayapul. Nayapul once just a couple of farm houses and a bhati is these days a squalid little town with muddy roads, partially built shops and snotty nosed kids running out of badly constructed shanties. I’m glad to leave it behind.
Half an hour later I’m at the Police checkpoint in Birethanti where they check trekkers their paperwork and I have some breakfast in a small open air restaurant overlooking the river and watch in amazement the seemingly never ending stream of trekkers filing past. From here the trail follows a jeep road slowly but steadily uphill for the next few hours then crosses in front of a small waterfall up some stone steps and into Hille. Just as I start up the steps fat drops of rain start falling down and I run the last few meters into town and to Mamta’s guesthouse where I’ve stayed previously and the Dal Bhat is tasty.