Hiking the Himalayas: Part Two
Day 7: Lower Pisang to Manang
In a state of digestive disarray, we decided it was time to take the fight to our stomachs. As such, we put a little bit of opium into our morning honey lemon tea. We had been informed that opium is popular with many trekkers because it cleanses the digestive system when taken in small doses. Making our way along the Lower Pisang, we felt rejuvenated with calm, clear minds and bodies that didn’t insist on reminding us of our soreness. Our original plan was to take the Upper Pisang route, but we were unable to find the remote path that leads to this much more difficult route. Apparently we weren’t the only ones as we ran into many fellow trekkers in Manang who searched for the trail in vain, only to embark on the Lower Pisang route. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise as a guesthouse caught on fire that day, creating a smoky haze that would have obscured the elevated view from the Upper Pisang. That being said, if you have the opportunity to take the Upper Pisang, we hear that it is definitely worth it and provides an excellent panorama view of the Annapurna massif.
So the Lower Pisang turned out to be a relaxing, easy trek on flat terrain. After buying some apples from a local farmer, we encountered a pack of humongous vultures feasting on the carcass of a fallen mule. This reminded me of the meaning of the word Annapurna: Sanskrit for full of food (more commonly translated as Goddess of the Harvests). After a while we came upon the town of Manang, which we expected to be very large due to the fact that it had internet access and many other amenities that were unfathomable in the previous towns. To our surprise, Manang was not much bigger than the other towns and was mostly deserted due to the fact that we were trekking outside of the main tourist season. Apparently many people had packed their bags and headed for the warmer climate in Kathmandu, making Manang seem like a dusty, deserted town from a wild western film.
Day 8: Acclimate in Manang
Today we decided to stay in Manang for our acclimation day. It is suggested that all trekkers take a few days to acclimate on their ascent to prevent acute mountain sickness, or one of its fellow potentially lethal cousins, from setting in. We spent the day climbing some of the rock formations around Manang and explored some of the mountain goat paths that lead up to small, antiquated stone structures that could have possibly been homes in years past. We decided to check out the local theater in Manang which shows movies relevant to the region (the sign promoted the day’s movies as Slumdog Millionaire, Into Thin Air, and Seven Years in Tibet). Unfortunately, we discovered that the sign had not been changed for weeks and that the theater was no longer in season. A little disappointed, we called it an early night to enjoy a solid 12 hours of rest.
Day 9: Manang to Letdar
The trek from Manang to Letdar was pretty easy going as we gradually gained altitude over the course of the day. As we arrived in Letdar, we realized that we had reached an altitude of 4,000 meters for the first time. In our guesthouse we ran into a group of three Finnish guys, two Australian blokes named Mario and Rowan, and a Dane named Ben. They taught us a local Nepali card game called Gumball that they had picked up from their porters. The game is very fast paced and turned out to be a staple in our daily routine thereafter. After scarfing down some dinner, we huddled around someone’s iPad and watched the movie Reign Over Me, a decent movie starring Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle.