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Long-Distance Walks with Mark Moxon

Annapurna Circuit: Days 1-13: Thorung Phedi

The donkeys of Annapurna
The donkeys of Annapurna

During the early stages of the Circuit, I was less concerned with getting AMS and more worried about an old friend. On the fourth day into the trek I felt a familiar stirring in my stomach and soon had the eggy-belch blues, and I realised that the giardia I'd first picked up in Puri had come back. Again.

A path winding past a tree
The winding path near the start of the Circuit

On the Track

Two boys, one with a bandaged toe
Fixing a hole where the rain - and mud - gets in

The sights along the way are uniquely Nepalese. Lines of grey donkeys wend their way along the thin footpaths, each decorated with garish bridles and low-toned bells, swiftly followed by wiry men wielding split sticks and yelling, 'Ho!' A little boy points cow eyes up at us as he points to his badly cut toe, which we dutifully clean and bandage, suggesting to him in English that he really should wear some shoes while it heals, a piece of medical advice that disappears into the language barrier.

A little girl in Manang
A friendly little local says hello in Manang
Two girls and two chocolate bars
My trekking companions Anne and Clare posing with Snickers and Mars bars, which are so valuable on the trail that they're worth photographing
A collapsed house
It's a hard life in the Himalayas
Manang
Beautiful Manang, where trekkers pause to acclimatise to the altitude
Braga
The village of Braga
A boy from Braga
A camera-friendly child of Braga
Nepalese prayer flags
Nepalese prayer flags

Over the Top

The Annapurna Range
A last glimpse of the Annapurna Range before the ascent to the pass

For crossing the pass I teamed up with Bob and Sheldon; the Canadian girls had forged on a day ahead, but we wanted to take our time acclimatising and stayed longer at lower altitudes. Jakob had already fallen by the wayside, but apart from that we'd managed to make a good team, and as such we'd been bouncing the paranoia off each other like a prism magnifying sunlight. By the time the altitude reached the point of AMS, I was riding high on a wave of hypochondria.

View of mountains on the way to Thorung La
The wilderness on top of the world on the way to Thorung La
Walkers in the snow
Trudging through the snow on the long, slow path to the pass
The pass at Thorung La
The pass at Thorung La, the highest point of the Circuit at 5416m

1 Two of whose jokes must be saved for posterity, because it's rare that I come across jokes so devoid of any humour that they couldn't even raise a smile on a terminally stoned sadhu. Try out the following corker:

One day I was sitting in a shopping centre, and a fly came buzzing up to me, so I caught this fly and put it into a paper bag that I had. Then I walked around the shopping centre and went to a supermarket, where I joined the queue. When I got to the till the lady asked me, 'What is this?'

'It's my fly,' I replied!

Seriously, you were supposed to laugh! How about this blockbuster, then:

When I was young the teacher asked the class, 'Now children, what do you want for Christmas?' When it came to my turn, I said, 'An elephant!'

The Taste Police have been informed.