18 July 2015

up and over thorong la (best mountain photos yet)

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we woke up on the morning we were to pass over thorong la (where the annapurna circuit tops out at about 18,000 feet) at 5:00am to incredibly beautiful and clear skies showing off the mountain peaks. our adrenaline was pumping since we had been looking forward to crossing the pass since we started planning our trip, and we were so so glad that the weather was good. after just a glimpse of the highest terrain of the trek, we were excited to head over the snow straight into the rugged snowfield valleys of thorong la.
 
{for more information on hiking the annapurna circuit, check out trekking in nepal’s comprehensive guide}

this morning was one of my very most favourite times of our entire eighty day trip. i felt on top of the world as i almost was! unfortunately the altitude hit the boy a bit more than me so he wasn’t feeling quite as exuberant, but still pretty blown away by where we were. he wouldn’t let me carry my camera until it got light enough that slipping on the snow wasn’t as much of a worry (he was afraid i would save the camera instead of myself if i fell, and there were some pretty scary slopes!). so here’s a combo of ian’s iphone photos and my camera photos when i pulled it out!

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^^ quick last visit to the outhouse before we headed out! :) ^^
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^^ first sunlight on the peaks ^^
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^^ seriously, i was so pumped up. the cold, the views, the glittering snow… it was so exhilarating. ^^
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^^ tiny human. huge mountains. ^^
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^^ first spot of sun! ^^
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^^ seriously! ebullient, exultant, euphoric! (yes, dripping with passion…so sue me. it was amazing!!! we couldn’t believe where we were, what we were surrounded in. it was unreal.) ^^
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^^ here's a silly little video of us dancing (to no music at the time!) - we shot these in several spots throughout our trip and i'm going to compile them one day! but i just had to share this dorky one on this post. because seriously, i was loving this morning (did you get that yet?!) :) ^^
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^^ we made it!!! bless the boy – smiling through feeling a biiiit queasy thanks to 5416 meters of decreased oxygen! ^^
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^^ the descent begins. we lost altitude very fast, and the boy felt better very quickly too! ^^
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^^ pretty soon we had to ditch some layers as it rapidly got warmer. ^^
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^^ check out those glaciers!! these were all around us. it was all so magnificent. ^^
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^^ as we came down, less snow meant lots of mud. it was very slippery and very dirty! ^^
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^^ coming into the town of muktinath. we were soooo exhausted by this point! but the adrenaline was still wearing off. it had just been such a glorious morning! ^^

it wasn’t until we got to our guesthouse in the afternoon that we realized what an awful disaster had hit nepal in the earthquake. we were immediately immensely humbled, grateful and heartbroken – increasingly as we learned more and more. it was pretty remarkable to connect into wifi and learn about all those who had been worried about us and praying for us. we were surrounded in trekkers that were having the same eerie, thankful, heart wrenching experience connecting with loved ones and being very, very sobered by the incredibly sad news of lives lost and/or in ruins. we began right away to try to figure out if/how we could change our travel plans and provide aid in the midst of this terrible tragedy. (we ended up feeling quite helpless – read more about our experience here.)

from muktinath, we walked to the last village stop of our trek – jomsom. it felt so good to see our destination in the distance after a long day of hiking. this wasn’t my favourite day on the trail because we got lost, we were exhausted, and the landscape seemed a bit bleak in comparison. i was so tired of taking photos, but ian snapped a few on his phone.

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when we got to jomsom, we found many people clearing their possessions out of their homes and/or sleeping in the fields due to the fear of earthquake aftershocks. many guesthouses in the part of town we walked through first were closed because they had no water or electricity, and there was a big crack down the one paved road in town. we eventually found a place to stay, and the whole experience was soo eerie and unsettling. our hearts were breaking for the people of nepal and were confused about how we could help. before we went to sleep we planned with each other about what we should do if an aftershock hit in the middle of the night (we had felt a couple more since the one we felt initially on the trail). it was just a crazy night.

we woke up in an intact building and to beautiful sunrisey skies and went to the teeny tiny jomson airport. as we waited to figure out if we could get on a flight (which we booked before our trip, but of course flight logistics were a bit mixed up given the earthquake), we got to watch the light change on the mountains: 

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we asked every nepali we interacted with if their loved ones were safe, and were always so relieved and happy to hear a “yes.” we felt blessed to be able to get on our flight to the lake town of pokhara, which we heard had not been hit with much damage from the earthquake. it was pretty fun to ride in this little plane in between the himalayas!

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we spent several days in the beautiful city of pokhara recovering from our long trek and trying to figure out how we could help victims of the earthquake. it was a sobering few days, in which we learned a lot and felt very grateful a lot. pokhara is an amazing place – pictures and descriptions coming next!

3 comments :

  1. Incredible pictures!

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  2. Beautiful pictures and awesome dance moves!

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  3. hey! i followed all your journey with your storytelling and pictures. Thanks for sharing!

    I've read quite a lot blogs about the circuit but I somehow I feel I can definitely trust in your story more. It feels more "human" and less like a "travel guide for promoting a blog".

    I'm pretty much about to walk the circuit end october to mid november. I've been travelling for 3 years straight but this will be my very first "FOR REAL" trekking and because I've been living lately under Asian sun I have 0 equipment for doing this except for my loyal light backpack.
    What would you recommend me to buy, specially in terms of clothing, for this journey? I've seen you look comfortable and light but warm on your clothes up there on the mountains but without looking like an eskimo.

    Thank you and enjoy! :)

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