I stood inside the ruined house, the towering Himalayas visible through the shattered roof.
It was an unbelievable setting. Scattered across the hillside was this ruined village, a testament to the difficulty of surviving in this brutal environment.
Had a devastating storm struck this place, killing half the inhabitants? Or maybe a plague had devastated the crops and livestock, leaving the villagers with no choice but to flee to better lands. Perhaps it was just a seasonal settlement, temporarily abandoned for the winter.
Whatever the reason, it got the imagination racing, making the vista even more dramatic. Crumbling walls, locked doors, a deathly silence, all crowned by the ice giants in the background.
Manang was visible from here, the Annapurna Circuit led away from it in the direction of Thorung Phedi. I needed to link up with this trail, so I descended into the valley down a desperately icy track.
After yesterday’s epic to Tilicho Lake, I was happy to go slow. This was to be the last day before I crossed the Thorung La, the highest point of the Annapurna Circuit, both literally and metaphorically.
But that was also the most dangerous part. In 2014 a blizzard had claimed the lives of countless people on the Thorung La. The heavy snow of the past few days made me nervous about tomorrow. Might the same event happen again?
I had lunch at the bottom of the valley, a lovely old lady made me noodles while I sat beside the river and listened to its fury. From here the trail climbed to Letdar, a grim little village that I was pleased to escape. After this it was just fields of yaks and scrub juniper, a bleak landscape that all colour had abandoned.
Late in the afternoon I reached Thorung Phedi. A group of lodges crouched below some towering cliffs into a claustrophobic huddle. The main lodge was full, but a group of trekkers had a spare bed in their room and let me stay with them. We spent the night around the fire in a jovial atmosphere while snow piled up outside the lodge.
Discussion turned to a Japanese trekker who had died of altitude sickness a day ago. We all went silent and I overhead the lodge owner telling another group, “tomorrow you’ll see men with yaks waiting for sick trekkers, it’s $500 for a ride across the pass!”
But it wasn’t the altitude that worried me, it was the weather. I just prayed that the snow would stop falling by the morning.
After trekking to from Shree Kharka to Thorung Phedi, I crossed the Thorung La, which you can read about here.
You can find more about my trek around the Annapurna Circuit at the links below:
- Annapurna Circuit: Besi Sahar to Bahundanda
- Annapurna Circuit: Bahundanda to Upper Pisang
- Annapurna Circuit: Upper Pisang to Manang
- Annapurna Circuit: Manang to Tilicho Base Camp
- Annapurna Circuit: Trek to Tilicho Lake
- Annapurna Circuit: Shree Kharka to Thorung Phedi
- Annapurna Circuit: Crossing the Thorung La
- Annapurna Circuit: Muktinath to Kagbeni
- Annapurna Circuit: Kagbeni to Larjung
- Annapurna Circuit: Larjung to Ghorepani
- Annapurna Base Camp: Ghorepani to Machapuchare Base Camp
- Annapurna Base Camp: ABC to Ghandruk