Trekking in the Annapurna Himalayan Range of Nepal
“This looks like American Fork Canyon,” said Mark, my husband, as we hiked through the Annapurna Himalayan Range in Nepal. Known as the Annapurna Circuit, this popular trek helped us cross off an item on the bucket list: See the world’s tallest mountains.
We were halfway around the world, but at times we felt like we had never left Utah. At first, the trail resembled a jungle with rice terraces hugging the hillsides and waterfalls cascading from the cliffs. As we climbed higher, the scenery became like the Wasatch Front with rocky mountains and alpine forests. The only difference was that these mountains were twice the height of the ones back home.
During 20 days and 113 miles of hiking, we stayed in several mountain villages and saw spectacular views of two of the tallest peaks in the world; Manaslu (26,781 feet) and Dhaulagiri (26,794 feet). The Annapurna Circuit proved to be the perfect trek for intermediate hikers like us to get a taste of these towering giants.
On the circuit, we also had the opportunity to cross a large mountain pass called Thorung La Pass. At 17,769 feet, the pass was taller than any mountain in the continental United States. Since neither of us had been this high before, Mark and I were anxious for this part of the hike.
Cautious of the elevation gain, we made time for proper acclimatizing rest days and took medication to prevent altitude sickness. We also kept an eye on the weather, especially since a blizzard came through a few weeks prior that killed many trekkers at the mountain pass.
We were ready to go at 5:45 a.m. on the day of our pass crossing. It was still dark outside, but we could see stars across the sky, which let us know the weather was clear. Within the first hour we quickly gained elevation and our breathing became noticeably harder in the thin air. After hours of laborious hiking, we were finally within sight of colorful prayer flags flying in the wind at the pass.
As we took the final steps to the top we pumped our fists in the air and celebrated with the other trekkers around us. We tied on our own set of prayer flags and took a victory photo at the “congratulations” sign before heading down the other side. It was a small, yet rewarding, feat for our first time trekking in the Himalayan Mountains.
Not only did we check off an item on our bucket list by seeing the world’s tallest mountains, but we also set a personal record as we reached the highest point we’ve ever been on the mountain pass. The pass was so difficult for us that we couldn’t imagine going another 10,000 feet to the top of a peak like Manaslu or Dhaulagiri. We’ll just have to leave those big mountains to the professional mountaineers.
To read more adventures of Britnee and Mark’s one-year journey around the world, visit oneworldoneyear.com.
Britnee Johnston treks the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal last October.