We arrive in Manang and it feels so good knowing that we have a rest day! Woohoo! It gets pretty tiring having to pack up every single morning—amazing how nice it feels to be able to relax a bit knowing you’re going to stay all of two nights in one place. On the way to Manang, we had some amazing views of Annapurna 3 (7555 m) with the moon still out.
Manang is where all the trekkers converge since almost everyone does the recommended rest day to acclimate. We had seen very few trekkers along the way, but here we made many friends that we would keep seeing all the way through to the summit.
You meet a lot of interesting people on the trek. Since the trek takes over 2 weeks, you usually get people who are like us, doing the trek in the midst of a longer trip. Our favorite was probably Magnus, a Swedish guy with an Irish accent who just spent 2 months in India and was doing the trek in flip flops and socks (hey, it was cold). He was also in Nepal for a psych-trance festival en route to an ashram for vipassana (he recommends 10 days of silent meditation). There was Susanna from New Zealand, who had spent 2 weeks helping at an orphanage in Kathmandu; Dutch Thomas and his friend on the way to India who we taught how to play gin rummy; and a group of 6 Australians in their 60s who belong to a Sydney hiking club.
Our teahouse in Manang was the best, mostly because they had the best heater ever!! This is crucial when your room is freezing and you need to kill a lot of the day playing cards. I think Mike and I are officially sick of gin rummy.
On our rest day, we did a day trip up to a viewpoint and went to Gangapurna Lake nearby. The color of lake was gorgeous and is fed from Gangapurna glacier.
In Manang, I finally start taking Diamox after going to the altitude sickness briefing—they recommend taking half a tablet if you’ve already starting feeling symptoms. Apparently the capsules we bought in Chame was for glaucoma, so the doctor on staff recommended buying the tablet form so I could take half a tablet for preventative measures. The Diamox did make me feel better so I was thankful for that! While we were in Manang, unfortunately a helicopter came in because a Korean guy had died from pulmonary edema altitude sickness while trying to cross the path. That really freaked us out and made us wonder how many die from altitude sickness while trying to cross Thorung La. I still cannot find the statistic, but our guide Min says maybe a couple per season. It’s highly preventable though and usually people get into trouble when they think they can push on, but really the only cure is to descend and go back down.
From Manang, we went up to Yak Kharka and Thorung Phedi, 3 hours a day but gaining about 500 m a day. They don’t recommend gaining more than 600 m a day above 3,000 m. So those were short hiking days but it also meant huddling in a cold common room playing cards for the rest of the day!
From Yak Kharka to Thorung Phedi it snowed almost the whole time, so we were getting pretty worried on what the conditions would be like for summit day.
There were people staying at Ledar, then High Camp, but we opted not to since it meant you would be sleeping at 4,833 m/15,856 ft and likely would not have a good night’s sleep at that high of an altitude. I guess at Thorung Phedi (4,450 m/14,599 ft) it’s still pretty high, but we felt it was safer. High Camp is an hour above Thorung Phedi, so we would have to get up pretty early on summit day since it takes 5 hours to reach the pass from Thorung Phedi.