When I was still in Texas I saw some website with some mind blowing pictures taken by an Italian trekker in Nepal. Sorry I cannot remember his name and website. This was a while ago. I had been planning this for years and last October I did the Annapurna Base Camp trek.
What I very quickly found out was this is no piece of cake. Trekking is serious walking and for someone who has been out of shape for 8 years and eating junk food . Some even laughed at the idea of me walking for several days. But for those who know me well know that I am a whimsical tirade. When I commit to something it becomes very serious. I believed in myself. So I packed my lime-green trekking bag and got on a plane to Pokhara. Next morning we head out from Baglung Bus Park, total six of us in two taxis. All my friends are laughing at me at this point saying I over packed and I was going to slow everybody down. And I do tend to over prepare. I like to live within my realm of comfort. This journey was going to change all that.
Day 1– We walked for over seven hours half of which was on dirt roads. Suddenly I am faced with these unending stairs and a sea of foreigners rushing from behind me. At this point I already started feeling I had made a mistake. I really struggled to keep up. When I would reach the top of a hill I would be completely out of breath and huffing for more air. I strongly despised how unhealthy I had become. People older than me were walking at a much frisky pace. The last one hour stretch before we reached our lodge for the night was probably the worse hour of my life. I was literally on my knees. My friend Irfan kept me company and this is past 6pm, uphill, without flash lights and the hill is covered with running water. But I made it. I went to bed bruised and with a shattered ego.
Day 2– I am an eternal optimist. I felt alright the next morning though each muscle in my body was sore. I was high on enthusiasm and decided to take fewer breaks and walk more at a steady pace. This day we reached Chomrong and had an elaborate lunch break and as usual I was the last to get to any place. We still had a long way to go but we again landed in the same situation as the day before. We are again walking in the dark without lights and its getting freaking cold. My body is soaked in sweat and I need to change into dry clothes. When Irfan and I reach the Lodge the rest of the gang had already established that we were going to sleep in a shed. Yes a shed outside with no brick or mud walls. Where shit is thrown away for storage and sometimes some porters use it to sleep. I was numb physically and mentally. I prepared myself for the worst night of my life. It was cold and we had three quilts to share among six people. I piled up all my clothes on and went to sleep laughing about the situation we were in. The entire night my sleep was inconsistent. I kept waking up and at one point I had to go to the loo. But it was so cold I waited an hour before I decided it was now or never. I went out behind the shed and it was still dark, but the moon was almost full. I looked above and saw the most spectacular sights I had ever seen. The mighty Annapurna on one side, a waterfall on the other and a clear sky with stars that dazzled. I picked up my jaw and smoked a cigarette. I went back to sleep for another couple of hours.
Day3– I head out an hour or so ahead of the group. By now I was completely in the steady walking mode. Comparatively slower than the rest but still I finally got on with it. We landed at Machapuchre base camp for the night. On day three I saw some of the most spectacular landscape, some wildlife and landed in a proper bed. We had a toast this night and I slept a bit.
Day 4– I was in the loo at 6.00am and the entire lodge was empty. Everyone had run for ABC to see the sunrise. We were late as usual but somehow scampered the last few hundred meters and made it to the base camp at crack of sun. The scene here is spectacular, a 360 degree view of the Annapurna range. All the aches and pain, every blister on my feet was worth it. We slept in a tent that night at Deurali. Irfan , sabin and I celebrated the day with a cold tuborg. I really got some sleep this night.
Day 5– Day 5 was a complete blur. A dash to get to Pokhara. All my friends would be at home , that’s why I was throwing the idea of veering off to the hot springs. But they disagreed and we ran. We ran and by the time we got on a 4-wheel drive it was past 7 pm. I reached Lake side late in the night and could barely climb up the hotel stairs.