Good morning, Annapurna!

Posted on October 29, 2010


Annapurna South

The peaks of the Annapurnas at sunrise.

Taylor and I went on our first trek in Nepal this past week, and I had my closest, clearest view yet of the Himalayas. Oh. My. Word. What a completely surreal experience. My pictures here are, of course, not as good as Taylor’s, who has some eye-popping shots on his blog.

We took a bus from frenetic Kathmandu to a little lakeside resort town called Pokhara, where we spent a few days doing research for Taylor’s photo project. Well, actually, my share of the research was just tagging along on the back of our rented scooter as Taylor drove from Tibetan settlement to Tibetan settlement, meeting people and establishing access to “embed” with refugee families later in the year. I was of no help, but I did ascertain that scooting is really the only way to travel.

River in Dulu Gonghra

Looking down from a bridge on our way to Jampa Ling Tibetan Refugee Camp.

broken scooter

Our scooter broke down on the way home. We ended up taking a bus back instead.

After Taylor finished his work in Pokhara, we started our three-day trek to Pun Hill (pronounced “Poon”), a famous vantage point for the Annapurna mountain range. We rode on the roof of a bus to get to our trail head. It was so fun! Luckily, the cargo on the top of our bus were huge bundles of blankets, so it was a comfy ride. I felt like a stowaway wedged between a cardboard box and a massive pile of blankets. I then ascertained that rooftop bus rides were the second best way to travel.

first glimpse

First glimpse of Annapurna South from Pokhara.

me on bus

On the bus before the blankets came on board.

Tay on bus

Very comfy on a pile of blankets.

us on bus

Having the time of our lives.

pony pile-up

Pony pile-up, as seen from the top of the bus.

scene from bus

Himalayas peaking out above a roadside village.

On the first day of our trek, we hiked along a river with waterfalls, following pony trains and stopping for meals at little mountain villages on the way. We stayed overnight in Tikhedunga, a tiny village seemingly built out of stone and nestled into the side of a steep mountain.

yak herder

Following a yak herder up the trail.

chicken porter

A porter carrying a chicken coop with live chickens on his back.


Tikhedunga: A city on stairs.

tikhedunga guesthouse

Once trekkers started to arrive, our guesthouse in Tikhedunga became covered in hanging laundry.


The chickens made it to Tikhedunga too!

Our second day was brutal, with a steep incline first thing in the morning (we climbed 400 meters straight up on a bazillion stone steps), followed by even more steep climbing. But we did get to hang out with some baby goats at the hut we stopped at to eat breakfast. That was a highlight. At the end of that day’s hike I had a mini-meltdown where I almost started crying and couldn’t move my legs. But I recovered after a short collapse in the middle of a village courtyard. Taylor, on the other hand, was a champ. No meltdowns for him.

baby goat tay

The baby goat had no problem with cuddling before breakfast.

picking up a goat

I had to try it too.

breakfast hut

Hut where we had breakfast and hung out with baby goats.


Taking a pit stop at a pond with waterfalls after several hours of hiking.

room with a view

In Ghorepani: a room with a view.

cloudy annapurna

Taken from our guesthouse window: Annapurna swathed in clouds at sunset.

Tay relaxing

Relaxing at the dining hall in our guesthouse after a long, hard hike.

We finally arrived in Ghorepani, a village with access to Pun Hill. We stayed at a guesthouse with a view of the Annapurna range. It was breathtaking, but it was nothing compared to the view we got the next morning. We woke up before dawn and hiked by the light of headlamps to the summit of Pun Hill. In the dark, we bought hot tea from a little shack and tried to stay warm as the sun came up.

here comes the sun

Here comes the sun, dooby dooby.

Finally, at dawn, the full Annapurna range came into view. It was completely surreal and perhaps more beautiful than anything I’ve ever seen.

dauligiri at dawn

Catching our first glimpses of the Dauligiri as the sun comes up.

us and annapurna

We made it! Us in front of the Annapurna range.

dauligiri and me

Withstanding the cold in front of the Dauligiri.

annapurna south

The peak of Annapurna South tipped in gold.

After breakfast, it was all downhill walking until we got to Tatopani, a little valley town with hot springs. That afternoon, we sat in the hot springs and soaked our aching legs (which are still aching today). We stayed in a nice little guesthouse and had pastries and milk coffee for breakfast over crossword puzzles.

prayer flags

Prayer flags on the hike down from Pun Hill.

Our ride back to Pokhara was not so pleasant: the bus crawled along inches away from cliff edges, and at one point, we had to get out of the bus while Nepali men moved big rocks out of the road so the bus could pass. Thankfully, we made it home and we’re now back in busy, dusty, noisy Kathmandu Valley. But I’m still elated from breathing the clean mountain air and having seen the famous Himalayas with my own eyes. More trekking, please!