Back Down to Earth: Part 3 of our Himalayas Trek

On February 1, 2014 by Oren and Cassie

Standing at 13,500 feet, having gone through the most physically demanding experience of my life, I couldn’t help but thinking that I was only halfway done. Now I had to get back down. Our descent back to our starting point proved far easier and included a stop at the amazing hot springs of Jhinu.

Breakfast at Annapurna Base Camp consisted of tea and porridge with fruit (and the celebratory can of Coke I had upon reaching ABC). Cassie, Laxmi, and I ate slowly, relishing the accomplishment of our body and, more importantly, our willpower. Laxmi had bought a Nepali chocolate bar for us as a congratulatory snack, and it was absolutely delicious.

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The obligatory selfie at ABC.

We hung out at ABC for about 90 minutes, snapping pictures and laughing toward the heavens, before we started down. The sun was up, and it didn’t take much walking before we were nice and warm. As we passed the ABC sign, I yelled a primal victory scream as loud as I could and listened to it echo off the distant mountains for a long second. It felt right, and I apologize if I crushed any trekkers with an ensuing avalanche.

I had struggled to get all the way to ABC. Now I struggled to slow down. I wanted to run as fast as I could toward thicker air, warmer weather, and hot showers. On the snow trail, I fell more than a few times into a pile of snow. In the elation of the post-ABC moment, I couldn’t care less. I had made it to ABC, and I was thrilled.

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The sign leaving Annapurna Base Camp.

We had lunch at MBC on our way down, relaxing for 2 hours while our gear dried in the sun. Tulasi was waiting for us at MBC, and we laughed and hugged after coming down from the top. Then we put on our gear, turned our back to MBC, and kept descending.

On our way up, we pushed through rain, snow, and ice. Now all of that seemed to vanish. The trails were mostly clear, the sun was out, and we were moving well, flying down the mountain at a fast but easy pace. There was a bounce in our step.

Before we reached the top, we had, in a way, envied the climbers on their way down. They had conquered the challenge of ABC. They had made it to the top, celebrated, and could now breathe a bit easier as they descended. Now we were those trekkers, and groups of hikers on their way up asked us the same questions we had asked the trekkers before us. “Did you make it to the top?” “How was the view?” “How was the weather?” “Was it hard to get to ABC?”

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We passed this porter, carrying the weight of 20 chickens in a cage ON HIS NECK, while descending.

Our descent was infinitely easier, and the valleys that had been so hard to cross on the way up seemed a little less steep and a little less difficult. The reward for reaching the top is a small town called Jhinu, another one of the guest house villages that exists specifically for trekkers. Only this one is special. Jhinu has natural hot springs near it that are the perfect place to relax.

It took us 2 days of trekking from ABC to reach Jhinu. We slept in that next morning, had a lazy breakfast, and eventually made our way down to the springs. They were as amazing as I imagined them. Two different pools of wonderfully hot water sit next to the Modi Khola river. The river itself is rough at this point, and the Himalayan water rushing over the rocks makes for a symphony of natural noise that fills the valley.

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The Modi Khola river next to Jhinu hot springs.

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Cassie and I relaxing at the Jhinu hot springs. AMAZING!

The hot springs melted away five days of hiking stress. We switched between the two pools – one was slightly hotter than the other – relaxing in the warmth of the thermal waters. We spent three hours there. We could’ve spent three days.

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Having some fun at the Jhinu hot springs.

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This picture was really hard to take without getting the camera wet.

Eventually, we left Jhinu and the hot springs and kept descending. We were ahead of schedule on our way down, so we only had to hike about 3 hours a day to finish on time. We ate long, relaxing lunches and then longer, more relaxing dinners. We tried different foods from the guest house menus, all of which are almost exactly identical, no matter which town you’re in. We had western pizza that tasted surprisingly… western. We had Mexican burritos that tasted surprisingly… Nepali. It didn’t matter. The food was great and we were all having a blast as we made our way through the final few towns of our trek.

On the morning of the 8th day, we reached Birethanti, one town away from where our hike had started. We took a picture of our family one more time and caught a cab to Pokhara. Our trek was over. We had made it up and we had made it down.

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Our family before the trek…

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…and after the trek.

In our own silly way, we were conquerors. In hindsight, the hike seemed surreal. Looking back at the pictures, it’s almost hard to imagine how difficult the hike from MBC to ABC was and how we made it all the way up and back down. But we did, and it’s one of the most incredible memories of our travels so far.

-O.L.

This is Part 1 of a 3 part series about our trek in the Himalayas. Part 1: The Climb Begins can be found here and Part 2: Into Thin(ner) Air can be found here.

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