Day 7: Annapurna base Camp to Bamboo
New year's day was planned to start with watching the sunrise above the mountains. It was not to be! The weather had changed drastically over night and not just in the Annapurna Conservation Area. We later found out that much of the Nepali Himalayas had been affected by heavy snowfall. The drop in temperature was also felt within the Kathmandu valley. We left ABC at 8:15am and cautiously made our way down through the light snow. Visibility was good enough for trekking, but the mountains remained mostly hidden by snow cloud. The icy trail was more of a concern!
We eventually made it back to Deurali for a much needed hot coffee and then another short break at Hinku Cave at 12:40pm. It wasn't long before there was another chance to demonstrate my skill at resting, at 1:20pm we had made it to the Himalay lodges where we were below the snowline. It was now rain that dampened our spirits. After reaching Dovan at 3:00pm, we decided to make the most of the remaining daylight and made a final push, arriving at the Bamboo lodges at 4:00pm. We were tired, wet and glad to call it a day.
Day 8: Bamboo to Jhinu
We didn't plan on walking far today, but an early start was important if we were to have some freetime to enjoy the natural hot springs at Jhinu. We left Bamboo just after 8:00am and reached Sinuwa after a 90 minute walk. The next river crossing marked our return to civilization, permanent settlements and a steep climb back up to Chomrong. It was extremely hard work for me to carry myself up the never ending stone steps and my pace was definitely slowing. Hiromi had gone on ahead and was waiting with a cold drink in the centre of Chomrong village. After a relaxing lunch in the lodge where we spent the night on day 3, at 12:45pm we embarked on the final leg of today's route.
It was all downhill to the settlement of Jhinu (1780m), although just a 30 minute descent down a traversing path. There are several lodges in Jhinu and from here it is just a 20 minute walk down through the forests to the river where you'll find a hot spring for which Jhinu is famous. Stone and concrete have been used to create the artificial pools that collect the spring water. It is much more developed than in 1999, now with an attendant and modest entrance fee. A long soak in the hot water was just what the doctor had ordered. We didn't want to walk back up to the lodges in the dark, so we stayed just as long as was neccessary. The hot spring was definitely the highlight of day 8 and a nice end to a week of trekking. Tomorrow we would be back in Pokhara.
Day 9: Jhinu to Pokhara
We left our guesthouse, which was still under construction, quite early and stopped at another lodge for breakfast. The other lodges were much busier and it was a good opportunity to meet with a friend we had first met at ABC. At 8:15am we left Jhinu and headed for New Bridge (1440), our pace was quite good as we had mostly dispensed with the severe ups and downs. New Bridge was just an hour away. For the rest of the morning we would be following the Modhi river out of the conservation area. Kyumi (1350m) was to be our first rest stop at 10:30pm for 30 minutes of not having to wear our backpacks and of course liquid refreshment.
The brief descent to Jhinu
Relaxing at Jhinu's hot spring
As on day 1, Kliu was the setting for lunch at 12:45pm. We felt well and truly out of the wilds here as it was fairly populated and home to the occasional vehicle. The remaining section of walking was through the gentle slopes of farms, woodlands and villages. It was the path we had used on day 1. At 3:00pm we had made it back to Nayapul and all that was left to do was check out of the conservation area at the check point and head up to the main road to catch a taxi back to Pokhara. We arrived at Dam Side's Penguin Guesthouse at around 5pm, we had completed our trek and rewarded ourselves a couple of day's R&R in and around Lakeside with friends.