We have been back in the USA almost 4 weeks now, but it took us a little time to get this last blog post out. Currently, we are enjoying the fall colors in Upstate New York as we prepare to be in America while we snowboard and ski Hunter Mountain for the winter. Who knows what the spring and summer will hold, but the word “India” is being thrown around a lot 🙂
Lacy: The flight to Penang was short and sweet as we flew from Perhentian Island’s sparkling beaches on the West coast to Malaysia’s foodie central on the East coast. When we mentioned our upcoming travels to Penang to anyone while staying on Perhentian Kecil, locals and tourists alike all agreed that this city is one of the best places to visit in the country & has a reputation for serving up some of the best Indian, Chinese and traditional food due to the blending of cultures. By 10am we were stepping out of a cab in Little India. Standing with our our backpacks in front of accommodation we took in nostrils full of spicy and sweet aromas drifting down the street spice being accompanied by local music played loudly on speakers that stood on the sidewalk. Oh, Asia how I love thee. Being in this region is a constant playground for your senses no matter where you are. For $12 we had a great private room with shared bath on the top floor of a simple hotel in the middle of all the Little India action. Fresh samosas, fried onion balls, mango lassis, roti canai, fresh hot butter naan & paneer are now all things we can procure within a couple block radius. Dropping our bags off quickly, we immediately sat down to our first of many outstanding meals for the next week. Even though Chinatown is a couple blocks from us and local Malaysian food abounds, Indian food had to be first!
Often times when we first arrive to a new city we like to walk out the front door, turn down different streets and get a little lost as we explore our new surroundings. That is exactly how we began our week long stay in Penang. We spent the first afternoon wandering through Little India, Chinatown, down to the jetties where each is specific to a particular Chinese clan that adopted it when they first arrived to the area and finally to a much needed haircut. Rob hadn’t trimmed his hair since beginning to grow it out before we hiked the Pacific Crest Trail – 18 months ago! At my gentle insistence, he had an inch trimmed off and is looking better than ever.
Rob: Penang was a feast. Yes, the city of Georgetown has beautiful Colonial period architecture and public street art set on a coastal island and is made for walking and taking pictures, but the food is what we will always remember. Penang is an island of immigrants. Malaysians, Europeans, Indians and Chinese have kept their individual cultures alive and well by sharing their traditions and food side-by-side-by-side-by-side here. It was refreshing to see Local and Foreign tourists from any group in an ethic area other than their own, eating, shopping, visiting the temples and enjoying eating some more. We did our very best to try so many of the specialties from every group. There were a few favorites that we will bring back home with us. Hokkien Mee is rice noodles in a thick broth made from dried shrimp and pork bones. Nasi Kandar is a chicken curry with rice that is all about the thickest, heaviest, darkest and richest sauce ever. Roti Canai is a fresh flat bread served steaming with a few sides of dipping sauce typically made that morning. These are 3 of about a dozen new favorites destined to be our new comfort foods.
Once again we rented a 125cc motorcycle for a few days to explore and enjoy more of the island than we could reach on foot. A waterfall and a beach later, we had a great ride around Penang, but much like our travels in total, the journey itself was the best part of the ride.
We made the big decision to head home from here. We would finish our 6 months of adventures with a lifetime of memories. The only souvenirs we would be bringing home were knit hats and gloves from trekking in Nepal, a bracelet and ring for Lacy from Bali and spices from Little India in Penang, Malaysia to go along with so many new friends made along the way. Lots of photos, this blog and 100+ stories couldn’t describe our experiences fully. The best part was doing all of this with my beautiful wife, partner and friend.
It took us nearly a full day to travel by bus and boat from the Cameron Highlands to Perhentian Kecil, the smaller of the 2 Perhentian Islands on the east coast of Malaysia’s mainland, but oh, was it worth it! This place is absolutely beautiful with it’s crsytal clear emerald waters that you can see through as you stand on the shore or ride a water taxi between isolated beaches. Sheltered from the sun by a palm tree as I lay in the hammock and listen to the waves lapping against the shore I can only think, “Ah, it feels so good to do nothing on the beach.” We have had a great mix of doing just that – nothing – and snorkeling nearly every day, taking jungle walks across the island, sampling the beach bars, watching sunsets over the water and laying in the hammock. The beauty of this island is reminding me so much of Kenawa and I find myself reminiscing about that special month where we enjoyed the unique once in a lifetime opportunity of living on a near private island. Snorkeling out our front door, cooking on the front porch and watching the sunrise from bed. Man, we had it good. And it’s not too shabby now either, I must admit.
We arrived on the island Friday, Malaysia’s Independence Day, and were really fortunate that a place we wanted to stay ad a last minute cancellation because everything else was booked. Our plan was to just show up on the island and go to the backpacker hotels and hope to find a room, but thankfully, with our booking secured the night before, the boat from the ferry on the mainland dropped us right off at the beautiful beachfront of our accommodation. By 5pm we were sitting in the shallow water of the warm sea with a cold beer in our hands and marveling at our surroundings. We chose this hotel specifically because it has great snorkeling directly off the beach. No need to take a boat anywhere. Already we have seen schools of black tipped sharks, half a dozen stingray, the largest parrotfish we have ever laid eyes on and big beautiful clams with iridescent colors. With the bright sun, clear water and lively underwater world here we are very content. Before we leave we will take a boat trip to nearby islands for more snorkeling and I hope we can see a turtle. Some friends of ours, that we met in Ipoh and again here on the island, were able to see a turtle on an excursion they did over the weekend. Fingers crossed!
Our accommodation at D’Lagoon is simple, basic, very quiet (other than the loud group of 16 young, drunk European travelers returning from the party area of Long Beach at 3am one evening) and cheap. Just the way we like it. With our own room with a fan (more than adequate in the evenings) and a shared bathroom we paid the peak season rate of $80RM over the weekend and $70RM every night after. Very affordable at $20 or less a night for a slice of heaven. Most of the accommodations on the smaller of the 2 islands are pretty basic, catering to backpackers and people more interested in partying and laying low. The larger island is known to have more resorts, families and higher prices. The 2 islands are a 5 minutes water taxi ride from one another and very easy to go between. It’s very common to stay on one island and travel to the other or even between different area of the same island by water taxi. We never traveled anywhere where you take a quick $10RM ($2.50 USD) boat ride down the island to have dinner and return later. One evening though, when enjoying dinner and drinks with our UK friends, Dan & Hanna, we lost track of time. Between it being late – past midnight – and some rain we weren’t able to get back to our hotel by taxi and it is an hour walk through the jungle which was not an option at the hour. But, it’s the island, and life is easy. We took a bed in a room above the bar that “helped” us lose track of time and when we woke up at 8:30 the next morning we got on a taxi and were back in our bed by 8:45. These are the worst of problems here – having to stay on another beach because we were having too much fun!
We did get some disappointing news from the captain of the boat we were expecting to sail to Indonesia this month. Due to some maintenance issues he is having with the boat we are not going to be able to sail with him this year. It’s a real bummer because we had been planning this for months and possibly may have even gone home earlier had we not been waiting to sail. Not to say we didn’t have great experiences hiking the Annapurna Circuit and exploring Malaysia along the way. I wouldn’t change a thing because I loved all of those adventures. It all worked out for a reason. And since we bought our airline tickets with frequent flyer miles we have the luxury of changing our return flight home without any fees. We have taken full advantage of this perk multiple times already. As we finish up this blog post we are eating calamari while lounging in our respective hammocks and deciding whether to keep traveling Asia since we are already halfway around the world and have no idea when we will be back…or come back to the States. Even if we come back we will still travel a bit. Definitely not the worst decision we have ever had to make…and we still have 3 more days on this island!
The Cameron Highlands are a short 2-3 hour bus ride east from Ipoh and into very welcome cooler temperatures. So cool in fact, that the feeling of the cool breeze while hiking in the area made me long for my unbelievably comfortable sleeping bag and tent. One of my favorite things in the world is to sleep outside and feel the wind. Sometimes in Hunter, with a perfectly good bed inside, I’ll sleep on the porch. I used to try to convince Rob to sleep with me on the porch of our 19th floors high rise in Dallas so we could feel the wind, but I never quite succeeded on that one.
When the bus approached the area, Rob and I both thought that the town seemed larger and more touristy than we expected. Fortunately, we booked a place a street back from the main thoroughfare in Tanah Rata. The French family that rafted with us a couple of days before recommended a hotel they stayed in and we were glad they did! It was very reasonably priced, clean, quiet and comfortable. Trying to keep our accommodation expenses low, we opted for a room with a shared bathroom. Before traveling this summer, taking a hotel room with a common bathroom was a foreign idea to me, but it’s a common option in Asia and if the facilities are well kept it’s an excellent way to minimize your costs. Traveling in Nepal, nearly all the teahouses have common bathrooms so almost any bathroom after that seems clean! I took a hike up to the summit of one the mountains that evening to try and see the sunset, but it was too cloudy to get much color. We were rewarded with great views the following day when we rented a 125cc scooter and explored the area, having a fun touristy day. We both love having the freedom of a bike and it’s an almost instant recipe for a fantastic day. Helmets on, Gizmo in the pack and a beautiful sun shining day we were ready to experience the beauty of the Cameron Highlands.
After stopping for fresh strawberry waffles at one of many local Strawberry Farms we went to the Mossy Forest. Here, you are guided through the beautiful mossy, lichen jungle landscape on a boardwalk so as to preserve the natural surroundings. After climbing a lookout tower for 360 views we continued the journey by hiking a path that was technically closed. It’s being closed seemed more like a suggestion to us so we climbed over roots and stepped in mud for an hour to further be saturated in the beauty of the area. The entrance to the forest is near a tea plantation and seemed to be the next natural stop for us. The surrounding plantations are absolutely gorgeous. Very different from the rice paddies we have been accustomed to viewing this summer. We enjoyed a nice little break after hiking over a pot of BOH Gold Tea and a slice of strawberry tea cheesecake.
Since I can never get enough fresh flowers in my life Rose Valley was our next destination. It’s not so much a valley as a massive ongoing greenhouse with more flowers than I imagined. Certainly exceeded expectations with an abundance of orchids, roses, lilies, bleeding hearts, giant hibiscus and other flowers we had never seen before! We covered every inch of this massive flower heaven and left smiling. I was talking about how great the experience was all day!
As we sat down to Indian food for dinner, I looked across the tables sitting along the sidewalk and there was Christoph, the Frenchman we hiked with towards the end of the Annapurna Circuit. Small world! He joined us and we all recounted what we have been up to since we last saw one another.
The following day we relaxed, played cards and didn’t do a whole lot of anything except laundry, pack to leave the next morning for the Perhentian Islands and eat more Indian food. I am obsessed with it lately and can’t get enough naan, paneer, roti canai, curry…you name it. There will certainly be Indian aromas emanating from our kitchen when we return home.
Lacy: In our typical style, we purchased our flights to Malaysia a couple days prior to leaving Nepal. We need to be in Pangkor, a tiny island on the west coast, to set sail to Indonesia on the 10th. We didn’t do much research on our next destination or even book a flight for the night we arrived before boarding our 5 hour, 80% empty flight from Kathmandu. It felt like a private plane there were so few passengers. We have traveled through Kuala Lumpur (KL) airport for long layovers twice this summer, but never left the airport so imagine our excitement when we grabbed a taxi and realized that KL is a rather large and modern city! Highways that are paved and don’t have potholes! Speed limits?! High rises and skyscrapers, no cow shit on the street to avoid while walking, real laundromats! We are officially NOT in a third world country anymore after five months of traveling through Indonesia, Cambodia and Nepal. Admittedly, we both experienced a bit of culture shock for the first 24 hours. Rob will tell you that I am drawn to the lack of polish and rawness that are inherent in the other countries we have visited, but it’s still nice to experience what Malaysia has to offer us!
At the last minute, (meaning in the airport before getting into a cab) we booked 3 nights in the Bukit Bintang district of KL near the night market area. This was intentional since we didn’t check in until midnight and having not eaten a real meal since breakfast in Nepal, we were starving! Throwing our backpacks down in our teensy tiny room we set out to explore what late night delicacies Malaysia could serve up for us. The best bites, by far, were the spicy chicken wings. So good, in fact, we had them again the next evening. Overall, we found the night market to be disappointing with bland food and massages being hawked as you walk down the street until the wee hours of the morning. All we wanted was some good spicy authentic Malaysian grub. We went to sleep near 3am which we later realized set the tone for our first week in this country. Late nights! We are no longer rising and setting with the sun as on the Annapurna Circuit. An entirely different scene emerges in the city as the sun sets. Tables and chairs are set up on the street as food stalls open, doors along the sidewalk that your didn’t even realize were closed before now reveal either a speakeasy or local bar. Sure, there has been a very prevalent street food scene at night throughout the countries we have traveled, but in Malaysia it seems to be working on a higher level here. The food here has many similarities to Indonesia – rice, sambal, chicken, fried noodles. We can lean on some of our comfort foods and explore new ones. It’s easy to read the local signs because Malaysian and Indonesian are very very similar languages. We have that prior knowledge of the language working to our advantage, but almost everyone speaks English so you don’t even need to speak the local language. Honestly, that’s a bit of a bummer for me because the new languages are one of the things I enjoy most when traveling. You can feel the lingering British colonial influence here from the prevalence of English spoken, the architecture and existence of traditional high tea throughout the country.
We enjoyed walking many many miles the next 2 days throughout the city exploring the various parts from Little India to Chinatown and viewing the Petronas towers. It’s very hot in KL right now and I wished I had brought my bathing suit in my bag when we stopped for a drink at The W pool overlooking the Petronas towers. Management was very kind to help us celebrate our 3 year wedding anniversary that day with free chili and kefir leaf infused tequila shots. Yum!
KL, and Malaysia in general, may be a good soft transition from traveling in poorer countries to heading back home after sailing. While it is a big modern island it still has a lot of decent inexpensive options for food and accommodation that you wouldn’t find back home. There, you can hardly get a campsite for less than $20/night much less a hotel room. Granted, $20 doesn’t go near as far as it did in Indonesia, which still remains my favorite country this summer. I haven’t been the biggest fan of traveling to larger cities on this 5 month adventure, but I quite like what Malaysia has to offer. It offers a lot of diversity for food, is clean, easy to get around and the people have been kind.
The third largest city in Malaysia is Ipoh and where we spent the following 4 nights. After an easy 2 1/2 hour train ride we checked into a really cute hotel in Old Town Ipoh, The Happy 8. The town is split between “old and “new” by the river. It’s also very hot in Ipoh, but we were excited to have our white coffee where it originated so we took a short hot walk to a local coffee shop right away. White coffee are beans that have been ground with palm butter and palm sugar giving it a nutty taste. This began due to the lesser quality beans that the locals were using and they masked the strong flavor by adding condensed milk – hence, the “white”. Now, however, when you order a white coffee here it means you get a black coffee mixed with the condensed milk and sugar. Personally, it’s too heavy and sweet for me this way, but Rob loves it. This is not a surprise since he eats cake for breakfast. Ipoh is known to have a great food scene. Locals travel here just to eat. Our first meal was so good and set the tone for a few days filled with good eating. My veg curry was layered with flavor and spice and probably the best I have ever had. Walking off our heavy bellies, we checked out Ipoh’s many murals and famous Concubine Lane.
This area is known for Buddhist cave temples that were discovered in the last 100 years. Having visited so many temples this summer and enjoying seeing the differences between various parts of Buddhism and countries, we visited a few more. It was a hot day, but we continued on to what we thought was a local village. When we arrived we realized that we were at a village replica! It is set around a tiny body of water and looks like a movie set. Most likely, you would take your kids to a place like this to show them what a typical Malaysian village would look like. This wasn’t at all what we had in mind, but they had 2 seater bicycles and traditional hats and we thought, what the heck?! We are here, let’s be silly! So we rode around the “village” a couple times laughing and taking photos before deciding we needed more food! We had a great meal at the local food stalls the night before and there had been a fruit and ice cream dish I hadn’t had the space in my stomach for then, but after a hot day walking around I could think of nothing better!
Rob: While in Ipoh, Lacy found a White Water Rafting outing we could do to take a break from the heat that wasn’t very far away. We could actually take a Grab (Uber here) all the way there, 40 minutes, for just 29MR (about $7). I’ve actually never been and neither had she. The water was a bit low and calm that day so we can both still say that we still haven’t been White Water Rafting, but we had a nice ride in a raft on a lazy river that had a few spots where we picked up a little speed and got a little wet. It was also up in the low mountains on a clear day, clean clear water and we were with a nice group of people. Lunch at a local Warung was also great so overall it was a very nice outing in the Malaysian countryside. The 1/2 day trip turned into a 2/3 day trip and threatened to have us miss our 3:30 Museum reservation. We caught a ride back into town from one of the guys from the Rafting place just in time. The little Museum in Ipoh told the story of how the Hakka people from China came to build and grow the town. It is a young town as far as Asia is concerned – really just a few hundred years old and only coming to worldwide prominence when Tin was discovered in large quantities right at the beginning of WWI and the need for packing and shipping canned food became a necessity. The Museum was fun and intriguing because even though it was Tin and not Gold & Asia, not the American West, the story of a mining boomtown with opium dens instead of saloons, prostitution and gambling was exactly the same. It was also housed in the same building that had been the actual Hakka Miners Club with original interior and furniture which made the stories, excellently described by our guide, come to life. A little Tin Mining Museum really is one of the “must do” things in Ipoh.
Lacy: Being as we have been off the Circuit several weeks now and are currently in Malaysia, this post is a bit overdue. Apologies for the delay, but this post, while a little long, will tell the tale of how we ended our trek. I LOVED hiking the Circuit. It was so different from anything else we have done. Yes, we hiked 800 miles of the PCT last year, but this is literally and figuratively worlds apart. Passing through Himalayan villages, staying in tea houses, waking up early to catch a view of the magnificent tall mountains, being immersed in a completely different culture and having hot food all day while hiking that we didn’t have to cook are all new to us. I could hike every single day for years on end. It is one of my favorite past times, but even Daddie Gizmo has had enough sometimes and so we ended our hike and spent 4 days in Pokhara before returning to Kathmandu and flying to Malaysia. 💜
Rob: After spending a few days decompressing in Muktinath we departed for Kagbeni, a Tibetan village in northern Nepal. Over hundreds of years, redrawn boarders, boarders redrawn again and even again, it was never under the rule of China. Nepali and other cultural influence have also been minimal because of the remoteness of the village and the presence of a 585+ year old Tibetan Buddhist Temple & Monastery that is still in full use today. So… it’s said that it is as close to a purely Tibetan village as it can be, even inside of Tibet. If you purely view the oldest part of the village and Temple, I can definitely understand why. It is, however, attached to a typical mountain Nepali village that caters to trekkers from near and far. The authentic and amazing old village has doorways that are all wooden, about 5 feet tall at most, and connect a warren of stone tiny alleys that connect multiple layers of homes and barns as one contiguous structure. Windows have tiny intricately carved wooden shutters used like vents. Rain cleans the pathways downhill to the river and fills the rice paddies, local gardens and apple orchards that are all woven together in a lush oasis tucked in a tiny river valley high up on a very, very barren mountainside. I’ve used the word charming once in my life before at some point, I’m certain, but it’s also very descriptive of Kagbeni. We enjoyed a full day’s rest, Yak Mo-Mos (dumplings), the local Raksi and sitting in on afternoon Prayer time with the young Monks of the Monastery. Lacy says Kagbeni is probably her favorite Nepali village of the entire circuit.
The recent week, climbing up and down Tilicho Lake and then further up and though Thorung La Pass, were a natural wind down from so much physical and mental work to accomplish the first 3/4 of our trek. Even so, I still felt the abruptness of the end of our trek as I put on sandals in the morning versus our routine of sock liners, socks, gaiters and hiking boots. It was a strange feeling as we had only decided the night before to end our circuit trek . I could also feel even more of the same coming from Figure 8 who would now go back to being Lacy by name as we were finishing the trail. After 22 days, our boots could dry and our bodies could rest but our emotions were still not ready to end our experience.
The Jeep ride to Pokhara with Ryan, Meg and 4 other passengers and driver would also be a memorable experience & E Ticket Ride. The first 4 hours were spent slogging through muddy roads rutted by tractors and huge 4 or 6 wheel drive Tata Trucks especially designed to travel just about anywhere. The Jeep, with all 9 of us crammed inside, negotiated these 3 foot deep ruts, big rocks and flooded roads better than you would believe if you were challenged with the same obstacle course yourself. Important to note is that we are doing all this insane Jeep driving while on the side of a mountain overlooking the river we have been hiking along. Lacy had some serious nerves as the Jeep approached the edge of the road that naturally has no guardrails. We forded several deep streams with water splashing into the open windows and over the hood. That really seemed easy compared to the continual rock and mud crawl that we swerved along in the totally destroyed road for hours on end. We had to stop twice for bulldozers to create a path through the rubble and mud. Once we topped a small hill only to see the front end of one of the tank-like Tata trucks on the opposite side that was hopelessly buried in mud and had lodged itself into a spot between piles of rubble a foot or so too small for its wide body and huge tires. I watched a bulldozer approach from behind the truck to see how it might go about pulling it back, digging around it or what the plan might be? First, I was curious and second, I was selfishly trying to gauge how long this extraction might take. To my surprise (or maybe not) the dozer never slowed down and instead hit the back of the Tata with enough force that they both pushed through the thick mud and rubble and right across to our side of the road. The Tata sped on. The dozer dragged a little mud to the side. We all hopped back in the Jeep and we were off on our crazy ride again. We only had to climb out of the Jeep and all push us through the mud (that was a cross between wet cement and peanut butter consistency) one time. I was truly impressed with our driver. When we finally reached Pokhara some 8 hours later I resisted the urge to give him a hug and just shook his hand. We were safe and sound. Back on terra firma, we had completed a full circle of the Annapurna Circuit.
Day 14 Stats:
Starting elevation: 16,252 @ High Base Camp
Ending elevation: 12,400 @ Muktinath
**These numbers include going to The Pass at 17,700 and back down to Muktinath
Total hiking ascent: 1,704
Total hiking descent: 5,560
Dal Bhat meals: 0. We stayed at the Bob Marley hotel in town and they had pretty good continental food so we passed on the Dal Bhat for 2 days. Yak steak, yak schnitzel, carbonara and shockingly well done gnocchi with pesto and yak cheese filled our tummies after crossing The Pass.
Cost for teahouse for 2 nights (board, dinner and breakfast x 2): 4,850Nrs ~$44. The Bob Marley was more expensive than most places we have stayed, but the food was good, the shower was hot, it had a sink for washing clothes, western toilet and WIFI! Plus, anyone who knows us well can rest assured that we spent more than what is noted on celebratory drinks 🙂
Lacy: Today was the day! Over the past 2 weeks we climbed approximately 15,000 ft as we wound up and down the Marsyangdi River. We began hiking through lush rice paddies and waterfalls, surpassed the tree line and finally crossed the Thorung La Pass in snow this morning. All the time we spent slowly ascending and making sure we properly acclimatized our bodies paid off in dividends. Rob and I were so strong the past 3 days as we continued to climb towards our goal of 17,700ft and this morning was no exception. It was chilly when we woke up even with the extra blanket we requested at the teahouse. After fueling our bodies with more pancakes we began our hike in hats and gloves we had purchased weeks earlier in Kathmandu. The closer we got to the pass the cooler it became until snow flurries began to surround us! It was so beautiful to be hiking in the snow dusted mountains and looking up at the even whiter peaks.
We pushed forward and as we approached the summit the prayer flags alerted us to our victory. We made it! I instantly hollered and jumped from the excitement of having accomplished this feat together. We were both oozing adrenaline and glee. It just so happened, completely by chance, that we climbed the pass on an exceptionally clear day. We were rewarded with views from The Pass that have been hidden in clouds most other days recently. Visible to us were the snow covered Himalayas. Below, the view of the valley that we would now descend more than 5,000 ft into before reaching lunch! Huge smiles were plastered onto our faces all day long. It took 90 minutes to reach Thorung La Pass from High Base Camp and another 3 1/2 to descend towards a comfortable place to rest our feet and cheers over a cool beer. It feels so good to use your body like a tool while hiking and accomplish goals with your partner. Definitely one of our best days!
Rob: We left High Base Camp at 7:15am which meant that we were the last to leave for the Pass. The climb was tough and into the misty clouds so each time you saw what might be a high point of the trail, it was really just a junction to another stretch up along the trail and into the mist again. The mist became snow as we got closer and closer to the top. We could just barely see a few peaks above us in between the fine blowing snow. Finally we saw the prayer flags flying from the top of the Pass and the trail marker! We had crushed the final 1700ft to reach 17,770ft in just 90 minutes and with perfect timing to see the peaks as we made it.
We hugged and hugged and then suddenly were very cold and had to add on some warm layers now that we weren’t exerting ourselves. My new Nepali wool hat and gloves were perfectly nice and warm at the height of our elevation. We took a few pictures and waited for our new friends, Ryan and Meg, to join us so we could take a few more pictures and celebrate together. Giovanni and Jon had already crossed over the Pass just before the rest of us.
On the 5700ft decent the sky cleared of the snowy mist and several peaks of the Himalayas came into clear view. After about 3 more hours of careful climbing down we reached the village of Muktinath and celebrated with a few good cold large Gorkha beers with everyone who crossed the pass that morning.
Our little trail family group has been amazing and supporting of each other from when we all met on the way to Tilicho Tal, traversing the high valleys and our ultimate ascent up and over Thorung La Pass together. The Annapurna Circuit has many options now that we are in Muktinath. It is likely that we go in different directions from here, but we will always share our memories of the last 5-6 days together. Many, many thanks to all of you from the bottom of my heart.