The first part of our trekking adventure in the Annapurna region was to Mardi Himal Base Camp. We returned to Forest Camp from Mardi Himal, where we all became bright eyed and bushy tailed with a return to a decent level of oxygen and warmer temperatures.
From Forest Camp we descended into the Mardikhola valley. We had spectacular views of Annapurna South.
We walked along the Modi Khola for a couple of miles and then we had to cross the river on a very wobbly bridge.
I was very pleased to make it across ‘New Bridge’ although it was not without moments of hesitation!
As we progressed up the other side of the valley we got a good view of the onward route to Annapurna Base Camp.
We spent the night at Chomrong. This is the last permanent settlement in the valley. The village is spread over the hillside with stunning views of the Annapurnas and Machupachare.
After Chomrong we had a long descent down hundreds of steps to the crossing of Chomrong Khola.
It occurred to me that in a couple of days we would be climbing up all these steps on our return. The bridge over the river was very long, but built by the Ghurkas out of steel so it wasn’t very wobbly.
As we ascended the valley the terrain became rockier and the path at times indistinct due to recent landslips. Now we were back over 3000m breathing became more difficult and progress up the hill was slower and more laboured.
The wonderful scenery was a constant distraction and eventually we had a well earned sit down and a cup of lemon tea at Machhapuchre base camp.
Annapurna South was now really close but as we made our way up the last stage to Annapurna Sanctuary the clouds came down and we could have been anywhere.
At last we made it to the Base Camp. It was extremely cold, around -10C and at 4130m by preference I would have liked more oxygen. Sleeping wasn’t great. It reminded me of my childhood in the north east of England in the days before central heating. A thick layer of ice grew on the inside of the windows overnight.
The next day we were rewarded with a fantastic dawn.
We took some time to explore the area around the Annapurna Sanctuary before scurrying back down the mountain at speed in search of oxygen and warmth.