Sunrise view from Poon Hill
It was a restless night for me due to the cold, the discomfort of a stuffed up nose, and too much clothing. So it wasn't too difficult getting up at 5:15. After checking the view from the window and seeing it was clear, we got up and got ready, not difficult since we had slept in almost all of our clothing. The sky was a deep blue and the mountains shone in the night from the light of the full moon. In the East was a faint tint of rose. The stars shimmered above the mountains. We started up the hill, climbing steps lit by the moon. As if all this wasn't magical enough, Rowshan glanced back and saw 2 meteorites-- one especially bright. A little later I saw a couple and Rowshan saw one more. It was a mystical walk and felt a bit druidic.
The light of the rising sun washed over the Dhaulagiri range. Mammoth Dhaulagiri I--the 7th largest peak in the world at 8167 meters, was not only high but broad. Annapurna South with its attached Hiunchuli and Nilgiri (the peak between the Annapurnas and Dhaulagiris) all received their pink glow of light.
Rowshan and Tamia enjoying the sunrise
We went back down to Ghorepani, had breakfast and left, climbing up another hill above the town. The day was still crystal clear as we reached the summit with its stone porter rest stations adorned with prayer flags. Here we rested soaking up the last view we'd have of both the Dhaulagiri and Annapurna ranges before heading down the other side of the hill.
Mountains in the morning from porter rest station
Machhapuchre through the trees
Down the hill we walked through a more subtropical environment. We came to a deep gorge whose sheer rock walls stretched up to become a mountain above us. The gray stone was coated with moss. We came upon a tiny hydroelectric power station which provided electricity for the village. I thought it strange that such a tiny, unobtrusive building could provide power from the little stream it was next to. Dipak said many of the villages have these tiny power stations.
Tall trees on taller cliffs
Hydroelectric power station
We crossed a bridge which had a sign saying the stream was the “Saranga River”. I guess during the monsoon it becomes a raging river. The river's course had been changed into an obstacle course of cascades, pools and waterfalls by a rock slide which had sent huge platforms of rock, some probably more than 20 feet across, into the river bed. As we climbed out of the gorge, we saw a stocky deer race down the steep slope to the river.
The Saranga River
We found ourselves on the side of a mountain with a view of Ulleri, the first village we'd stayed in. Annapurna South made its appearance behind the curve of the hill. We made a steep descent and a steep ascent and were soon near Tadopani. Rowshan thought he saw a monkey but it turned out to be a different animal, perhaps a yellow throated marten, something that looked like a cross between a cat, a monkey, and a skunk. It was trying to pilfer a crow's nest which is what had caused the commotion which attracted R's attention. At one point it stood on a branch looking at us with its cat face and pretty black side stripes.
Tadopani is set on a hillside across and under Annapurna South and Machhapuchre. We saw another pretty pink sunset and talked to fellow travelers Haley, from Australia (ending a 2 year trip soon) and Andrew, also from Australia who aside from hiking the Annapurna Base Camp hike, was in Nepal to compete in the Elephant Polo world championships in order to raise money to help find a cure from MS. Andrew was not a professional elephant polo player or even a regular polo player. His first time playing elephant polo was when he came to Nepal for the competition. For more info about their team see the Pukkachukkas web site
. This made for some interesting dinner and post dinner conversation. Andrew left the next morning accompanied by his guide and 2 stray dogs who had followed them down the mountain side from Deurali. Each dog had taken a position in front of Andrew and his guides separate doors, sleeping there in their voluntary posts of trusty guardian.
Sunset over Annapurna range at Tadapani
Startrails over Machhapuchre
Annapurna Panaromic view from Tadapani