Today is joker day: We leave our luggage in the lodge, enjoy a late breakfast and combine sightseeing with a bit of a hiking tour around Manang.
Before getting lost in mountain names, here comes the orientational glossary: Annapurna II is the most beautiful mountain in my world that we half-rounded these days. Annapurna III really gets me later that day when… Well, we will see. Gangapurna is the one with the impressing glacier spilled down in the shimmering lake at its feet. This being set, we can start the walk through a brown-grey mountainous landscape.
Half way to our first destination, we see holes in the stony walls across the river. Most legends are anchored in truth and thus I believe that we do see the temporary home of an ascetic Buddhist that once meditated here for years. The monastery in Braga still is fond of this guy who became a monk throughout meditation, giving shelter to deer and other animals.
Compared to the past days, the first part of today’s tour is a walk in the park (only less green, that is). Our first stop is an accumulation of stupas and prayer flags located in the centre of a 300° river turn, facing the lake emerging from the Gangapurna glacier.
We stroll around like happy children on their playground, knowing that there is no extensive challenge today. It is easy to love life with the bright sun and colourful flags all around.
As for acclimatisation, there still is some way uphill for us. But what are 300m when being used to 1.000? Hence, I hop on light-hearted and full of energy until our group reaches a platform that overlooks the lake and the valley of Marsyangdi.
The place is enchanting with a small hut of untreated stones, surrounded by seven-thousand-something-peaks and (of course) full of prayer flags and mane stones.
It takes some time, but then it slowly dawns on me: We crossed the river and climbed up some mound. The mound is part of a severe mountain. Looking straight south, there is more of it. No valley, no ravine in between, it goes all up and up until…. Unsure, I ask Khaddy and our guide assures me: Yes, this is indeed a lower platform (around 3.800m) of the Annapurna III. If I continue my walk straight south, the next turning point will be on 7.555m!
It takes a while until this information settles into something real, something seizable in my head. It helps to look down on the lake. And over to Manang with its rural houses. And to my companions around. Then take a deep breath and get the focus on the Annapurna III behind me – now it looks less huge, right?
Eventually we turn around and head for Manang for lunch. How can a day with a bit of a promenade offer so many aspects (Himalaya impressions, cultural aspects, religion, food, …)?!
…to be continued…