Annapurna Circuit Day 4: Chame to Upper Pisang for a magnificent view

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You can’t turn a corner without seeing prayer flags adorning the mountains, trailing down from the highest peaks to temples below. The presence of these flags makes this trail unlike any other we have hiked. This view is looking down to Lower Pisang from where we stayed in Upper Pisang.

Day 4 Stats: 

Miles: 9.3

Starting elevation: 8,690 @ Chame

Ending elevation: 10,970 @ Upper Pisang

Net gain: 2,280 We climbed 1,800 ft of that by lunch,  reaching 10,460 in 7 miles 

Total hiking ascent: 2,622

Total hiking descent:  342

Dal Bhat meals: 0. A first. We found a place on the topmost part of Upper Pisang that we liked so much that we stayed at even though we couldn’t get a bargain deal. The view of Annapurna II from our room and balcony right out front was unbelievable. Since we paid full price, we ordered something a little different.  Sadly the food was nowhere near as good as the view. 

Cost for teahouse (board is free with purchase of dinner and breakfast): 1,700 Nrs ~ $15.50

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Two happy faces after lunch of garlic soup and fresh mushroom pizza on chapatti bread

Rob: The one hiker came up to the top of a little mountain village called Upper Pisang in the Himalayan Mountains of Nepal and asked a hiker he found sitting at the top, “What did you do this afternoon?”  The first replied, “I watched clouds and it was a wonderful day.” “Really!”, the inquisitor exclaimed, “That’s all??” The second hiker didn’t answer with more than a small smile and went back to watching clouds, evergreen sprinkled foothill mountains, snow capped Annapurna IV at 24,788ft, Annapurna II at 26,040ft, prayer flags trailing from 2 different Buddhist Stupas below and about a dozen waterfalls he could see high and low. After a few minutes of silence, the curious hiker packed up and moved on to try and chat with other hikers about his accomplishments of the day leaving the meditative hiker to himself. His wife came to join him on the balcony of the Tea House they would be spending the night and brought them both a full glass of the local rice wine. She asked, “What did that young hiker ask you about?”  “He basically wanted to know what we had done today”, he said.  She asked, “Did you tell him that we had the greatest fried bread-like donut for breakfast, glimpsed the peaks of the mountains as the sun broke the mist at 5:30 this morning, climbed a quiet little side trail just for fun, hiked a net gain of 2100ft from 2450ft ascending and just 350ft descending, climbed out of the river valleys, above the  tree line and all before 12:30pm.”  “No, I forgot to tell him that part”, he said, smiled, toasted his glass with his beautiful wife and told her that, “He loved her so much.”

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The view from the balcony of where we stayed in Upper Pisang looking below to the valley and Lower Pisang. We spent the afternoon outside enjoying the view and watching the clouds move as they offered us glimpses of Annapurna II.

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A tiny Short Story to help you understand what it feels like to just look out today on the Himalayas and foothills as we make our acclimation ascents. We have found a beautiful all wooden Tea House at the very top of the village of Upper Pisang. We have a tiny little corner room with a big open balcony in front of us where we can sit and admire the view as I write this.   The view, of course, is Lacy’s favorite part as well since she can also watch the clouds cover and uncover the Annapurnas right from bed! Our balcony will be a perfect place for her Yoga & Meditation practice at sunrise. Our place is just under the highest buildings in the village which are a Tibetan Buddhist Temple and Monastery. They are so vividly painted in great detail on almost every exterior surface and that doesn’t even compare to the painted murals, adornments and large golden Buddhas inside. We hear the giant brass gong chime the beginnings or endings of daily and evening prayers for the Monks studying there. 

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The monastery gate overlooking the valley

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The detail and bright colors that the Nepalese use to decorate their temples and monasteries is something we both find very beautiful

Our trek thus far has been from village to village along the Marsyangdi River. We have crossed and recrossed the river a dozen times on bouncy, breezy, cable suspension bridges. And gained the maximum recommended elevation each day on our way around the Annapurna Circuit. We currently sit at 10,970ft. We started in the low river valleys at the middle village of 3 possible starting points. The plan has been to find our legs and our lungs along the way up. We will continue this for the coming days with the ultimate goal of successfully completing the Thorung La Pass at 17,770ft in about a week from today. We have a number of day treks planned while at 12,500 to 14,500ft to help us acclimate even further. 

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Prayer flags as you enter a village…

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And unexpectedly on the forest trail complete with piled rock markers

From Bhulbhule to Nadi Bazar to Bahundanda, Ghermu, Syange and Jagat on Day 1, we were wet from rain but didn’t really mind as we climbed through rice fields and marveled at the number of waterfalls on both sides of the valley. From Chyamche, Sattale to pretty river village Tal and onward through Karte to Dharapani, it was hard to keep your eyes off the raging river just below us on Day 2. Day 3 began by going through Thoche, Bagarchhap, Danakyu, Thanchok, Koto and into Chame via grassy hillside trails through the foothills. At one point we came upon a small herd of about 12 dairy cows that decided to nap right on the trail. The hillside was pretty steep above and below us so we had to literally tip toe around and between them to pass by. Our 4th day continued the climb up and out of the misty river valley and into much drier air of the low mountain passes. We came up into the evergreen trees and have broken through them into the rock cliff mountain vistas and views. 

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Mani walls are another very common feature for Nepalese villages.  They are low walls or another area where collections of engraved stone prayer slabs are placed. We have seen them in every village and wish we could decipher what the stones say.

It is truly calming and peaceful to just enjoy a long afternoon up here on our little perch in the clouds. The air is quite a lot cooler than when we started down in the river valleys and we have moved from shorts and a sweaty tee shirt into long pants, wool socks and down jackets. 

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