My pace was slow as I left Chomrong (elevation : 2170m
) that morning down the zig-zagging stairwell. I had begun to feel the first aches of the trip, as the rapid 2000 metres descent the day before
had proved to be a bit of an ordeal for my knees. It was a gorgeous morning however--the skies were perfectly clear, the light of the early morning was still soft, and it was neither too hot nor too cold. Birds were twittering whilst flitting from tree to tree, and the magnificent mountain views of Annapurna South (elevation : 7219m
) and Hiunchuli (elevation : 6441m
) topped it all off both literally and figuratively. It was my last day on the range so I tried to soak in as much as I could, so speed was the last thing on my mind.
I was alone for quite a while at first, at least until the trekker 'conveyor belt' started up. Trekker after trekker began passing me, but all of them seemed to be heading up from Jhinnu Danda instead. I seemed to be the only one descending, aside from the friendly fluffy dogs that would follow me for a while, the same type of dogs that each guesthouse seemed to have.
I reached Jhinnu Danda (elevation : 1750m
) at 08:40. The decent had taken less than an hour which included the time taken for my fairly prolonged coffee stops. From there, the stairwell swerved right, and towards the sound of rushing water. There were sections here that were lush with greenery and that reminded me of some of the trails in Malaysia
. Tightly coiled fiddle-heads of ferns
lined the sides and tiny waterfalls and rivulets ran down the cliff and over the trail, leaving it fairly muddy in sections. The sides of the cliff were festooned with the tunnel-like dens of funnel-web spiders (Agelena sp.
), and the natural stealth that comes with solo hiking allowed me to catch several Kashmir rock agamas (Laudakia tuberculata
) off-guard as they basked in the warm sunlight.Kashmir rock agama (Laudakia tuberculata)Funnel-web spider (Agelena sp.)
The stairs veered left, still descending albeit much less steep than before. It eventually met with a rickety old bridge that crossed the Kimrong Khola. I crossed the bridge very slowly, and tested my weight with each and every step. In hindsight, it was most likely not the right bridge to cross, so it might be best if you look around for an alternative bridge if you do attempt to retrace my steps. The bridge that I crossed brought me to another set of stairs that was very overgrown, and that eventually led up to the village of Samrong (elevation : 1640m
).Crossing the Kimrong Khola
The trail traced the sides of the hill as it continued onwards, and ran parallel to the thundering Modi Khola way down below. It made its way to a junction just under 4 kilometres in, where the left branch met the long rope bridge and the village of Landruk on the other side of the Modi Khola, and the right branch led to the village of Siwai. I took the latter.I seemed to be completely alone on this part of the trail. This section was also completely filled with spiders of all sorts, so being alone with no distractions whatsoever allowed me to stop and inspect each one that I came across. My obsessive fascination with spiders ensured that I could not walk a few metres without having to stop once again.
The sun was now fairly high overhead, and the harsh light that was reflected off the phyllite rocks gave them an appearance that was akin to highly-reflective tin foil--an effect known as 'phyllitic sheen'. I had encountered phyllites, and other types of metamorphosed sedimentary rocks such as quartzites and schists, on earlier parts of the hike, notably the gorge
after Poon Hill
. The gorge however was usually deep within the shade of the sheer cliffs that flanked it, and as a result, the sheen of the phyllites had been far less pronounced. The metamorphism that is fairly evident in the rocks that make up the valleys within the Annapurna region, is the result of the collision between the northward-moving Indian tectonic plate and the Eurasian plate, the very same collision that gave birth to the Himalayas themselves.The trail undulated up and down, before it slowly dropped down to the same level as the Modi Khola. Kyumi, a quaint village that consisted of just a couple of guesthouses lay not too far beyond. The trail then ascended up to a major junction that branched off to Ghandruk. I continued down the other way towards the village of Birethanti. The trail emerged from a ramshackle village of sorts, and met the dirt road just half an hour from Kyumi.The Modi Khola
The village of Sewai (elevation : 1530m
) is located a kilometre or so, or 15 minutes, up the road from this point, and is where the trek usually ends for most trekkers. All manner of transportation can be found there, from colourful buses that occasionally rumble by, to rows of parked jeeps that leave for Pokhara
after they have been crammed full of trekkers.I decided to continue on however, and to finish the hike where I started. The starting point
had been Nayapul (elevation : 1070m
), which was located at least 9 kilometres away. The long and dreary journey from this point was rather uneventful and very unremarkable, since it was entirely on the dusty unpaved road. The walk to Nayapul (elevation : 1070m
) took at least 2 hours, and my mouth had remained covered and my head bowed low almost the entire time. This was made necessary due to the dense clouds of dust that were kicked up by all the vehicles that rumbled by. How apt, I thought, to finish almost exactly the same way that I had started.But no matter how bad the conditions of the beginning and the end of the trail had been, the destination
had made it all well worth it!** The 2-hour bus ride to Pokhara had cost NPR150; the dhal bhat dinner with a plate of momo had cost NPR200 + NPR140; the accommodation in Pokhara had cost NPR1800/2; and the bus back to Katmandhu had cost NPR700.