Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Day 07 (Braga to Khangsar)
I woke up today at 06:30 and packed my bag; I then had breakfast (fried eggs, fried potatoes and tomatoes with garlic, toast with peanut butter and honey, and a cup of coffee). I then filled up on water at the hotel and paid my bill before strapping on my backpack and hiking out to Manang. During the short trek to Manang, I was treated to some grand views of the valley, farms, and towns. After about a half hour, I reached the entrance to Manang and I stopped at the first shop that sold trekking gear; inside the shop I bought a pair of trekking poles (an item I usually don’t care to use, but having done the trail to Ice Lake yesterday, I figure I better invest in them to assist me on the snowy and muddy trails; also, my right knee is still hurting from yesterday, so it should help alleviate some of the strain of hiking downhill). I then continued on through Manang, and back out to pasture lands, with a view of the blue lake below Gangapurna Glacier. I turned left at a wall of prayer wheels, heading toward Khangsar. I hiked along an all but empty dirt road (there were some old women carrying baskets of tree cuttings) until it came to a ravine that the Thorung Khola was streaming through. I turned right on to a trail and then crossed the Thorung Khola on a suspension bridge; on the snow covered path on the other side, I met a French hiker who I had talked with two days ago in Ghyaru and on the trail to Braga; he was coming back from Khangsar, having just hiked there this morning, on account of the trail to Tilicho Lake being closed from excessive snowfall; he also told me the trail to Yak Kharka, from Khangsar, was closed; thus the reason why he had to hike back the way he came, just like I will have to do tomorrow; I then said goodbye and we continued our separate ways. I hiked up the trail, which then rejoined the dirt road, and it was about another forty minutes until I reached Khangsar.
I ended up getting a room at an old lodge with a very friendly didi in Khangsar; the lodge actually reminds me of something you’d find at the turn of the last century or the Old West; very basic accommodations with creaking wood floors and stairs, built out of stone and lumber; after settling in my room, I had lunch (fried potatoes, vegetables (i.e., cabbage), eggs, and green chili sauce); while I was waiting for lunch, the didi treated me with a slice of coconut and a fried cylindrical chip. After lunch, I bathed with a bucket of warm water (a first for me); it was strange pouring the water over my body while standing in the cold bathroom and then having to soap up and making sure I had enough water to rinse myself off. After my bucket bath, I went up to the small terrace, enjoyed a cup of coffee (served to me on an old “Regal” tray with a scene depicting Miami in the 1960s), and warmed my feet on a rug of yak hide out in the sun; if this was what my life could’ve been in the Old West, I’d take it. The didi then treated me to a small plate if rice and vegetables (I had a piece of broccoli this time) before I went out with my camera to explore Old Khangsar. I passed through New Khangsar and then hiked up a pleasant trail through pasture lands and farms, terraced out if the hillside with stone walls. I then reached the lower part of Old Khangsar before continuing to the upper part; along the way I saw a herd of Himalayan tahrs with short, pointy horns; I then reached the upper part and trudged through the snow to explore the derelict dwellings; I also had a great view of the valley and Tilicho Peak; I also had Old Khangsar entirely to myself with not a soul in sight; after spending a good deal of time there, I hiked back down through the snow and mud to the newer town, which was now eclipsed by the mountain’s shadow. I walked through the winding paths in the town before returning to my hotel. Once back in my room, I removed my wet shoes and socks before going up to the kitchen to warm myself by the fire, which the didi had just lit. I then relaxed for sometime and filled my camel-back up with water for tomorrow’s journey. After 18:00, I went up to the top floor of the lodge to have dinner; I ordered Tibetan bread, fried noodles with vegetables and mushrooms, and a cup of ginger lemon tea; I was invited by the didi to sit by the stove fire in the kitchen to warm myself; so I got to watch the man of the lodge prepare my dinner, the noodles, vegetables, and dried mushrooms boil in the pot above the fire, and the Tibetan bread being pan fried; once the bread was done, I moved in to the dining hall to eat my dinner; the noodles followed shortly and overall the cuisine was delicious; part of me is glad that I am the only guest and therefore receiving such a warm, homely, and hospitable experience at this lodge. After dinner, I sat in the kitchen by the fire for a short while, talking with the didi, before retiring in my warm sleeping bag for the night.