That morning, I awoke to some marvelous views of Annapurna South (elevation : 7219m
) and Hiunchuli (elevation : 6441m
). The soft morning light cast crepuscular rays skimming over the mountains to the east, before they lit up Annapurna South in their golden glow. The mountains seemed so incredibly close, so much so that I felt that all I had to do to touch them was to just reach out my hand. The valley to the north that led up to the Annapurna Sanctuary
could also clearly be seen. The valley had been carved by the mighty Modi Khola over the eons and the thought of walking along it in the days to come left me feeling somewhat exhilarated.Annapurna South & Hiunchuli basking in the soft morning light on the left; the Modi Khola valley still in shadows on the right. Hovering the cursor over the image above will show you the view when I arrived in Chomrong the day before.
I left the guesthouse just before 08:00, and began the long decent down the valley past the rest of Chomrong's 15 guesthouses. I made the mandatory stop at the TIMS checkpoint, and took note of all the information that was displayed there, such as the weather, temperature (it was -5
degrees Celsius up in ABC
), as well as the levels of snowfall. There were several junctions beyond this point, and despite all the markings and arrows that indicated the right path, I came upon other solo hikers who still seemed to take the wrong turns. I continued on after running down the path to call some of them back.Annapurna South (elevation : 7219m) and Hiunchuli (elevation : 6441m); ABC signageAnnapurna South (elevation : 7219m)
The steps descended down into the valley so far that eventually even mighty Annapurna South disappeared from my view. At the bottom of the valley, the trail made its way along the metal bridge that straddled the Chomrong Khola, which lay one and a half kilometres from Chomrong Town centre. Where the mountain views once dominated the senses, the roar of the river down below had now taken over. The stairs then made a steep ascent up the slopes all the way to the village of Sinuwa. The decent down to the river and the climb back up had taken about an hour, whereas the online estimates had claimed that the section takes closer to two hours. Looking back down the valley southwards, the village of Jhinnu Dandha was glimpsed, and the peaks of Machapuchare were seen far off to the north.Crossing the Chomrong Khola, with the stairwell seen in the upper right corner
The trail entered the upper Modi Khola Valley through forests of rhododendron (Rhododendron arboreum
) and oak (Quercus sp.
), while bamboo shoots lined the sides. The twittering of birds were abundant here, and I was very glad to once again be surrounded by their melodic tunes. Machapuchare led the way far up ahead, its twin peaks only occasionally glimpsed through the gaps in the foliage.Machapuchare (elevation : 6997m) seen through bamboo shoots
The forest gave way to a clearing approximately 5 kilometres in, and the magnificent views of the mountains were now clearly visible up the valley. The villages of Bamboo (elevation : 2310m
) and Dobhan (elevation : 2600m
) could also be seen in the distance, just tiny clusters of colorful dots way down below.
The trail then began a long descent down the stone steps, and the roar of the river grew louder and louder as I descended. Bamboo shoots (Himalayacalamus sp.
) were ubiquitous here, and I finally understood how the tiny village had been given its name.
When trekking above 3000 metres, it is a good rule of thumb to only increase your elevation by not more than 300 meters per day. Exceeding that elevation gain is permissible only if one returns to a lower elevation for the night. For every 1000 meters, it is also best practice to take a day off to acclimatise (Acclimatisation days are not necessarily required for the ABC trek as the highest elevation is only 4130m).
I decided to end the day's hike here despite having only covered 7 kilometres. This was because the elevation gain from Himalaya Hotel (elevation : 2920m
) to Machapuchare Base Camp (elevation : 3700m
) was almost 800 metres, and was too large an increase in elevation for just one day. My plan was to instead stop at Deurali (elevation : 3200m
) the next day instead, which would reduce the elevation gain from 800 metres to 500 metres. However, doing so meant that the days of ascent would be increased from two days to three. Himalaya Hotel also only had two guesthouses, which dramatically increased the chances of monopoly, whereas the villages of Bamboo and Deurali had five and four guesthouses respectively. When trekking without a group, obtaining a room becomes much harder, so I felt that stopping at both Bamboo and Deurali maximised my chances of getting a room.Himalayan primroses (Primula denticulata)
It ended up raining for the rest of the day shortly after I reached Bamboo, so I was very glad that I had made the decision to stop there. I also found out later that a few hikers were forced to turn back and return to Bamboo as the rooms in Dobhan had reached capacity. The room at Bamboo Lodge and Restaurant cost NPR200
, whilst my dhal bhat dinner cost NPR500