What I packed and how I started the circuit as a solo female backpacker.
Hiking the Annapurna circuit solo over 24 days
I never could have imagined the journey that was in store. Starting in a rickety bus from Pokhara I set out to the start of the trail head. It was late August, skies still ripe with the monsoon rain.
My bag was light. A few T shirts, one pair of pants, socks, two journals, and that’s about it. No sleeping bag, no gear, just me and my feet.
I had heard that on the trail there would be lots of tourists and I would sure to make friends. I ended up not running into another “tourist” until about three days into the trail. But every hour or so on the trail, you stumble upon another local village.
Before starting the hike, I was so nervous. I worried about hiking for so long. What if I lose the trail? What if I get really in my head? What if it’s too cold? I had never spent time along with myself in that way before.
It’s been a few years ago now, but I’d love to share the notes from my journal of that period.
The night before I left:
I hope my raincoat holds up. I hope I’m strong enough. I hope I’m warm enough. I hope the leeches stay away from me. I hope no one notices my absence. Maybe I’ll even find enlightenment. Maybe I’ll remember something new. Maybe I’ll have some revelation. Maybe I’ll be depressed and cold.
Packing List (for 3 weeks, 230km walk)
– 2 pants, 1 shorts
– 4 shirts
– base layers
– water bottle
– Battery pack
– shoes, sandals
– 3+ pairs of socks
– Journal & Pen
Woah! Studio Ghibli has the GREATEST soundtrack ever for the Annapurna. This music will remind me of this trail forever. I see no reason to stop listening to it. Right now I’m listening to “A Town with an Oceanview” by Hico the kid. It’s phenomenal to experience the beauty around me to this upbeat playful tune. Why are there so many butterflies? This isn’t real.
As I write this, I look over rice patty feilds. This is the first stop of my hike in a small village called Lampata, Nepal. There’s one restaurant. I’m having a pot of ginger tea and some noodles overlooking a lush green valley, cut deeply by a rushing river. The smell of mint is overwelming from a hillside of mint plants. The crisp air soothes my lungs as I take a deep sip of ginger tea.
I’ve been talking with one of the local people, he seems like a son that is helping to run the shop. The whole family sits inside the kitchen just out of the sun.
“I’m very surprised to see you. Are you all alone?” he says to me
“Why is it surprising?” I ask.
“It’s been two days since I saw the last visitor, and I’ve never seen a solo girl before.”
He shared with me details of his life as a rice and mint farmer. Did you know it takes two full rice plants to equal 1 bowl of rice? That’s a lot of harvesting! He told me the whole hillside of rice and mint is only for their family and their guests. The small scale farming here is pretty incredible. They also grow pumpkin, lentils, beans, corn and more.
The bus this morning dropped me at Bhulbhule. I had left at 6:07am. Good morning start.
I am here to listen
Mosquitos at my toes
Grattitude in my prose
Mountain peaks veiled by silk skies
Poles that remind me of crutches
I am here to remember
Who have I been?
to remember and to forget
Forget who you’ve become.
Remember who I am.
Forget what is impermanent
Let your mind sway
Listen to the silence
Rest and let her speak.
I didn’t make it as far as I hoped today. As I was climbing the epic staircase to the top of this hill, a lady came to meet me at a golden entrance to the hilltop town.
“Namaste. You came from Pokhara today?” She asked in gentle English.
“Yes. I did. I started the trail today, I have been walking since Bhulbhule.” I said.
“Oh! You’ve come so far. You can take rest now. No one comes so far in just one day.” She said.
“Ok. Do you have a guest house?” I asked
“Yes,” she motioned to the two red story house behind her.
“Ok, how much is your rate?” I asked.
“Free if you have dinner and breakfast.”
So I stayed. I had heard rumors that in the off season there was free stay if you have meals, but I never believed it. I was so surprised she offered this. I was the only guest in her guest house. It was lovely with views on both sides. I spent the afternoon exploring the town, truly epic views in all directions.
It was the cutest town on the peak of a mountain. With stone steps leading up to it on each side, there is no road that goes to this town, but a school and walking roads. There are two story buildings, and the front porches remind me of western movies, but if all the buildings were made of stone. Who knows what the next town is like? This one is great. I got to know Lakshmi, the owner, over the rest of the afternoon. She spoke excellent English and had lots of stories to tell. I found her genuine and sweet, I could have talked to her for ages.
I’m writing this now from the room, soon I will go and order dinner from her little restaurant. I wonder if the food will be very expensive to make up for the free room? I have faith it’ll all be okay, but a part of me is worried to accept anything “free”.
Day 1 hike (only 9 km)
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