Highlights and Not-So-Much-Ers From the Annapurna Circuit and Base Camp

AC: Annapurna Circuit, a 17-day loop through the Annapurna Range in Nepal.
ABC: Annapurna Base Camp, also known as Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, at 4130 meters. A 5-day trek tagged on to the end of the AC, essentially trekking inside the AC loop and going to the base of the Annapurnas.
Thorung La: at 5416 meters, the highest point of the AC.
MBC: Machhapuchhare Base Camp, the village before ABC, at 3700 meters.

To view photos from the Annapurna trek, click here.

Favorite Peak: Machhapuchhare
Best Lodge: Paradise Hotel in Marpha - trash is illegal, so it was the cleanest village. Had a nice monastery and lots of apples. The hotel had free! filtered water, awesome showers (with nice water pressure and heat), delicious food, laundry lines outside the rooms, and a great family.
Best Views: Ghyaru, Poon Hill, Annapurna Base Camp
Most "I deserve this" Moment: Tatopani hot springs
Hardest day: Tatopani to Ghorepani, 17 km, 1670 meters ascent
Most delicious meal: Spinach enchiladas at Ghorepani
Most annoying trekker: a Russian who stood at Thorung La with a humongous flag, taking pictures and videos of himself in spite of dozens of other freezing trekkers waiting for their Kodak moment
Best thing I packed: down jacket, head lamp, baby wipes
What I wouldn't have packed: 4 pairs of underwear (only needed 2!)
What I would've packed: More Eczema cream! I couldn't sleep most nights because I kept itching
Most Inspirational Trekker: a 72-year-old woman who had arthritic joints and was still trekking with a smile
Best Dessert: Tatopani - they had a beautiful display of lemon meringue, chocolate mocha cake, apple crumble pie, and danishes galore
Favorite Eye Candy: a French expedition leader Julia and I swooned over in Ngawal and Mr. Iceland, who generously changed his shirt in front of Imogen and me at Deorali
Favorite words during the trek: "Let's go all the way to Nayapul tomorrow." - Imogen
"24 hour hot shower" - lies by tea houses
"Do you want a bite of my apple crumble?" - Martin and Gerard, responding to my incessant staring
Best Smells: Fresh cheese rolls and cinnamon pastries at Thorung Phedi, plate of drying cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves at Ghyaru
Best Weather: any day above 3000 meters
Cheapest Day: 300 Nepali Rupees (about $3.50) with Julia
Most Expensive Day: 1500 Nepali Rupees (too much to think about) with Gerard and Martin, 2 high-rollers from San Francisco
Worst Part on any Trail: Getting stuck behind a pack of 20 ponies
Best Views besides mountains (for me): Prayer flags
Best Views besides mountains (for Julia): Gerard's calves and Martin's ass (or was it vice versa?)
Best Reason to Wake Up at 5 am: Sunrise at Poon Hill
Best Reason to Sleep in past 7 am: having the whole dining hall to yourself (all trekkers flock out by 6:30 am)
Worst Trekking Moment: Dust storms starting at 11 am from Jomsom to Lete
Most Reliable meal (consistently warming and satisfying): Veg Curry and Veg Egg Fried Potatoes
Stupidest Reason to save 2 Kilograms from your pack (also known as being Israeli): Not Bringing a Sleeping Bag
My Undiscovered Skill: acting as nurse, popping Julia's blisters and bandage-wrapping her right knee in the mornings
Acquired Skill: Snot Rockets, Nepali style
Biggest craving: Hot showers, sushi, not wearing 5 layers
Longest Day: 29 km, from Bamboo to Nayapul. Imogen and I completed 1/3 of the Annapurna Base Camp in 9 hours, stopping only to buy Snickers, eat chocolate croissants, and pose on a rock above a waterfall
Shortest day: 8 km, from Ngawal to Manang. This was a gift after 2 consecutive days of 19 km each.
Most annoying Nepali phrase: "School pen? Sweets?" - kids on the trail
Most frequent Nepali phrase (directed to me): "Are you her porter?"
Best Moment before Thorung La: cheese rolls at Thorung Phedi
Worst Moment before Thorung La: Seeing Julia's blisters
Best Moment at Thorung La: Sharing a Snickers with Julia
Best Moment after Thorung La: Hot Springs in Tatopani
Worst Moment after Thorung La: Seeing 3 of Julia's toenails fall off
Best Moment before ABC: Awing Mr. Iceland
Worst Moment before ABC: Going to bed without seeing a single star in the sky, wondering if tomorrow would bring clear weather
Best Moment at ABC: Waking up to a crystal-clear sky after the snowstorm, surrounded by the most magnificent peaks in the Himalayan range
AMS Victims (from our trekking group): 1
HAFE (High altitude Farting experience) Victims: 100%
Best way to support local Nepali pilots: Hire a private helicopter to fly you out of MBC to Pokhara when the descent gets to be too much on those tender knees
Worst Realization at 2 am: "I have to pee..."
Craziest "Just Because" Moment: Ben leaving Tatopani at 1 am to trek to Ghorepani (an 8-hour uphill torture) because "I'm not tired, and there's a full moon."
Best Discovery Too Late: Gurung Bread with cheese, topped with a fried-on-both-sides-egg. Folded over to resemble a gyro, then quickly jammed into a waiting mouth. Warning: Tends to leave a runny trail of egg yolk on the chin.

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