Feature

This week’s travel dream: A trek along the Annapurna Circuit

By 2012, roads will have been built along the two river valleys that make up Nepal's legendary 150-mile hike through the Himalayas.

Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit was “once the greatest trek on earth,” said Ethan Todras-Whitehill in The New York Times. The 150-mile hike through the Himalayas “marries natural grandeur, cultural immersion, and relative luxury in a union found nowhere else.” But, even in these remote regions of Central Nepal, development has begun to threaten. So before this legendary trek is ruined, I wanted to create a “snapshot in time,” to have the chance to wake up surrounded by the “heart-stopping,” 5-mile-high peaks of the Annapurnas and to fall asleep in the comfort of a village teahouse.

The Annapurna Circuit is a “tale of two river valleys”: the steep, lush, Marsyangdi and the wide, arid Kali Gandaki. By 2012, roads will have been built on both routes, bringing trucks and buses into the region. Until then, the epic 20-day journey still takes climbers along terraced rice paddies; across creaky footbridges that sway over “thunderous gorges”; down rocky paths crowded with goats, donkeys, and water buffalo; and through villages “filled with shrieking children, chatty shopkeepers, and the low hum of chanting monks.” I began my expedition in the town of Bhulbhule and walked 13 miles before “huge masses of schist, granite, and sandstone” started to rise around me. “Daubed with green moss and brown lichen and dripping with cascades of black fungus,” the mountainside looked as if it were a Jackson Pollock canvas.

After a full week of hiking, I caught my first glimpse of the Annapurnas. The peaks are numbered by height, and Annapurna I stands at 26,545 feet, making it the 10th-highest summit in the world. Though the terrain beneath my feet was still easy, I kept tripping because I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the 24,786-foot Annapurna III. The icy peak dominated the horizon “as surely as a sunset does, but with millenniums-old glaciers ringing its crest like a necklace of diamonds.” Breathing hard in the thin air, I was still only a third of the way through the circuit and had “already reached euphoria.”
Contact: Himalayanglacier.com

Recommended

Vatican slams Israel for attacking funeral of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh
Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images
Freedom of religion

Vatican slams Israel for attacking funeral of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

Ukraine says 264 'heroes' evacuated from Mariupol's Azovstal steel works
Ukrainian troops in Azovstal steel plant
'Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes alive'

Ukraine says 264 'heroes' evacuated from Mariupol's Azovstal steel works

Biden reverses some Trump restrictions on Cuba
A man drives down a street in Havana, Cuba.
a new era

Biden reverses some Trump restrictions on Cuba

McDonald's announces total withdrawal from Russia
Russian McDonald's
Mc-bye!

McDonald's announces total withdrawal from Russia

Most Popular

Russia's failed Ukraine river crossing has pro-Russia war bloggers griping
Failed Russian river crossing
Losing faith

Russia's failed Ukraine river crossing has pro-Russia war bloggers griping

Why 'the Russian army just isn't very good'
Vladimir Putin.
Briefing

Why 'the Russian army just isn't very good'

Watch Wynonna Judd and Brandi Carlile sing 'The Rose' at Naomi Judd memorial
Wynonna Judd, Brandi Carlile
Some Say Love...

Watch Wynonna Judd and Brandi Carlile sing 'The Rose' at Naomi Judd memorial