3 April: Chame to upper Pisang (3,300m)
MI: Today we had an early start planned due to the volume of people we had seen the night before. We were all packed up and in the dining room by 6:50 ready for breakfast. Unfortunately so were most of the other people staying there.
The clear views we had of the Annapurnas rising up behind Chame at dawn soon disappeared as cloud started to roll in. This was our first day into uncharted territory without a guide per sea. Our young porter Himal is now acting as a porter/guide but we have our own plans, so he is now just part of the committee!
Leaving Chame there was a big crowd of trekkers on the road at the same time. Within a short distance we had come to an alternative more difficult route that both Himal and all other Trekkers avoided. We convinced Himal we were going that way and it was worth it. Walking through pine forest way up above the river and road was really pleasant and we felt in isolation again.
Soon after our detour it started to rain and then rain turned to sleet and then snow. Quite good fun initially but after a few hours it was wearing thin. Throughout the morning we took further detours and although the tracks were more undulating than the road we had great satisfaction looking across the river at the stream of Trekkers. We got to cross dodgy bridges and crash through forestry felling areas, brilliant.
We decided to push on without stopping for morning tea or an early lunch to upper Pisang, squeezed between Pisang Peak directly above us and Annapurna 2 directly over the valley. We are midgets in a large landscape. On the other side of Pisang Peak (up and over) is Nar Village where we were a few days ago. Being elevated a few hundred meters above the river Annapurna 2 doesn't look that far above us, although it is 4500m.
John and I were in charge of finding accommodation, Chris came up with the quote of the day requesting 'just check they have hot and cold running women'. We're so crusty (cracked noses and lips, dry skin on the face, dodgy beards, blocked noses thanks to Harm sharing, coughing, dirty), water would seem more appropriate thanks Chris.
The place we found was great, nice comfortable dining room, soft mattresses, clean toilet. Because it had been snowing the solar shower wasn't working so only John showered in a bucket from water boiled on the fireplace. Used my chux multicloth shower (one for face&pits, another for b******s&bits)!
Harm and John went for a wonder through the village (which is on the side of a hill) and to see the Gompa. Chris and I hung with lemon tea. Obviously the guys came back reporting on the most outstanding Gompa on the planet, so much so that Harm donated NPR1,000 from his own money, close to $100 NZ, the average monthly wage in Nepal.
Harms sleeping bag and a few things got a bit wet from all the rain/snow and the bag the porters we carrying (that we gave them to use) was not as waterproof as we thought. We had quite heavy snow when the guys were looking around the village, but by the end of the night the everything had pretty much dried in front of the fire.
At last we found a place that the owners have door etiquette in the dining room/kitchen. Even on our minus 5 night when it was snowing the locals just leave the door open in the room where the fire is. The routine is, we close it, they walk through and open it. The comment 'were you born in a tent' receives blank looks and we've decided it's possible, especially in the Nar Phu valley, this was actually the case. Insensitive tourists!
Jackie ...... The $100 NZ was a windup, it was only $10:) The average mthly wage was about right. In fact Harm has been in charge of the kitty since the start and is doing a great job. Have heard him confessing to people a few times he can't see what the notes are after overpaying, but the Nepalese are so honest they say.