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Posts Tagged ‘Trekking’

Thorong La Pass, at 5416m, is the highest point in the Annapurna Circuit, and offers 360° views of the Himalayas.

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The last week of the trek was hiking down 4000m, and the back up to Poon Hill for a spectacular view of the whole Annapurna Range.

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The Annapurna Circuit is a 230km loop through the Annapurna Range in the Nepalese Himalayas. The hike, taking anywhere from 12-21 days, commences with a 5416m pass and 360° views of the Himalayas. Spanning through rice paddies, deserts, tiny villages, and glaciers, the trek challenges the mind as much as the knees.

On October 7th, 2010, The Khalerias, along with friends Alex Parsons and Josh Phillips, took a 9 hour bus ride from Kathmandu to Besishahar, the starting point for the trek.

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A bridge on the way in. It took us over an hour to cross, as the bridge wasn’t able to handle the weight of more than one car at a time.

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Josh rode rooftop (among 10-12 locals, and all our luggage) for about half the trip – a much more comfortable option compared to the cramped seating.

(Thanks to Parsons for these first few photos)

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The start of the hike was surprising – I was expecting cold, ice, snow, mountains – but instead it was humid, green, lush rice paddies. After about a thousand feet of elevation and two days of hiking, the lushness started to mix with dramatic mountains and cliffs. IMG_0411

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Local kids wait for tourists to get to the river crossing, and quickly set up stones to lead you across. Then they ask for money.

**The only English words we heard a Nepalese child speak through our entire trek were ‘sweets’, ‘candy’, and ‘money’. At some point years ago, trekkers started bringing bags of sweets to hand out to the local kids. While this seems like a good idea at first, in reality it teaches the children to be beggars at a young age. If you head to Nepal, or anywhere in the Himalayas to trek, please respect the idea that children gain nothing from a piece of candy besides the expectation that anyone with a backpack owes them something. If you want to help, the tourism commissions in Nepal ask you to bring school supplies (pencils, notebooks) to hand out instead.**

DSC04892 Prayer wheelsDSC04931 Typical guest house

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Herds

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A porter carrying at least 50kg on his back.

Since you hike from village to village, it is easy enough to carry your own supplies and a porter isn’t necessary. But every Coke that you buy, or Oreo that you eat, has to be carried in since there are no roads connecting the whole circuit. A guide we met told us that some porters carry up to 80kg, more than 125% of their own weight, up to 5000m elevation. They are undoubtedly some of the most amazing people I have ever come across.

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Next up: Part two. About a week into the trek, the weather started to shift from hot/humid to freezing, and the mountains went from dramatic and stark to snow covered…

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The Khalerias posse has grown over the last two weeks – we are currently travelling with our friends Alex and Josh, who joined us to trek the Annapurna Circuit. We are leaving for tomorrow morning:

The Annapurna Circuit is a 21 day trek through the Himalayas in Northern Nepal. We’ll be trekking from tea house to tea house over the next three weeks, with views of some of the highest mountains in the world. The highest pass we will be taking on is 5418 meters (wish Sabeena luck with altitude sickness!)

Here are the deets:

Of course, we won’t have internet access (the cloud isn’t that cool yet) – but have no fear, I have a few posts coming while we’re gone.

Be back at the end of October! Should I be a Himalaya for Halloween?

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The Khalerias are back.

We’re currently engulfed in Galeria-mania in Turunc, Turkey, enjoying some serious beach time on the Med! New computer is all set up, and we’re only about two and a half months behind. Rewind to Chile, South America…

About 20km outside of Pucon, Chile, is Volcan Villarica. At 2847m high and with an active lava lake in the center, its a pretty backdrop for a city, even if it could erupt at any second and cover your town with hot liquid magma. It’s also one of the few active volcanoes in the world that you can climb… which sounds totally unsafe. But, being the smart cookies we are, we thought ‘Why not?’

The weather was pretty crappy when we first got there, and we ended up waiting a week for it to clear up before we could climb.

SONY DSC View of Villarica from the city center. See the smoke?

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A volcano warning system in town lets you know if you’re about to be covered with lava.

SONY DSC From the climb…

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SONY DSC The crater at the summit of the mountain. That’s sulfur dioxide blowing out the top, smells pretty bad and tastes even worse.

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Hot. Liquid. Magma.  SONY DSC SONY DSC

Just your average cigarette lighter.

After the climb, we used pads to slide down the glacier in carved out paths… a little scary, but REALLY FUN.  Overall, the climb was one of the most awesome, and probably ludicrous, things ever.

From there, we headed to Mendoza, Argentina…

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San Carlos de Bariloche was one of my favorite cities in Argentina – it looks, smells, feels just like Lake Tahoe… so it was pretty much a shoe-in. Summer hiking, beautiful weather, gorgeous lakes, and a hideout for ski bums come snow season.

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View of the city and lake

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Cerro Campanario – once named one of the top ten views in the world by National Geographic. Lived up to the hype.

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We spent some time here spoiling/rewarding ourselves for making it out of southern Patagonia and back to civilization alive, and stayed here a few extra days… eating some seriously good falafel and chilling out at one of my favorite hostels in South America: Pudu. Then we hopped on a bus back to Chile to a small town named Pucon for some volcano climbing.

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We arrived in el Chalten fresh from our trek through Torres Del Paine, to sideways snow. And freeeeezing cold. Like your-fingers-are-going-to-fall-off freezing. We only had one clear day, and only got in one good hike – to Lago Torres and Mt. Fitz Roy.

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SONY DSC (Mt. Fitz Roy on the left. Dont mind that  giant gloomy stormcloud)

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We’re currently in Mendoza, Argentina… stuffing our fat faces with steak and wine like I’ve never had in my life,  and looking forward to a visit from OG Poopswan Lina. From here, we’re off to Buenos Aires, and then headed to Africa! This little Khaleria is so excited she bought an animal print shirt in anticipation… does that increase my chances of seeing a Zebra?

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The front half of our hike through Torres Del Paine National Park is more commonly known as the ‘W’, and is trodden with gorgeous glaciers, snow capped mountains, and lakes made from glacial water.

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SONY DSC Glacier Grey from the top of John Gardner Pass.

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Front view of Glacier Grey

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Lago Torres

The last day of our trek we hiked up the French Valley – a 360 degree view, and my favorite in the park.

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After conquering the park, we rested our feets for a few days and headed to El Chalten for some more hiking…

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