drafted 5 May, posted 7 May from an internet cafe charging by the minute so I did not bother with spell check and those niceties..
A moment to explain what the Annapurna Circuit is.
The Annapurnas are a range within the Himalayan mountains in North-Central Nepal just South of Tibet with peaks ranging from 6,000 meters to over 8,000 meters. There are fourteen mountains in the world over 8,000 meters. 10 of them are in Nepal and I will see 3 of them on this trek. The Annapurna Circuit is a trail connecting mountain villages that circles the range (hence “circuit”). Emphasis on mountain villages. My trek started at 760 meters and we gradually gain elevation until we reach Throng La at 5,420 meters. Throng La is a pass (“La” apparently translates to the spirit that guards the pass – according to Peter Matthiessen, anyway. I think it’s commonly just translated as “pass”) between Thorung Peak (6,144) and Yakwakang (6,582) and is the world’s biggest pass. So even at my highest elevation, I am not “summiting” any of these mountains. Which is good because these summits require actual mountaineering skills (of which I have none) and even then people die regularly attempting them.
The World’s Largest Pass is a pretty cool thing, though.
There’s no camping on this trek. It’s considered a “tea house” trek. You hike from one teahouse to the next and eat at there as well. Tea houses are of varying quality, though they are all kind of like the summer camps up in Northern Maine. No insulation, plywood walls, plexiglass windows, etc. Bathrooms are squats that are often vaugely outhouse like and I warily shared a shower with a spider as big as my hand while a goat peered at me through the window.
Even though this trek can and is done without a guide, I do not regret my decision to hire a guide and a porter. By doing so, not only am I supporting the local economy, but the women of Nepal as well. Beyond economics – I’m realizing just how much of a vacation this is for me. This whole time – or hell, most of vacations since I was old enough to plan – I’ve had to work out the logistics. I’ve had to plan and piece things together. I’m good at it, but paying a guide to do all that for me means that I don’t have to. It means that I can just hike and not worry or even think too much about the next step. I didn’t actually realize it was possible to vacation like this and just shut that part of my brain off.
It’s pretty blissful.