Annapurna Circuit Days 15 and 16: Marpha to Kalopani and REST
Day 15 April 6, 2018: Marpha (2650m) to Kalopani (2430m), distance: 12.5 miles, duration: 5h 45m, elevation gain: -220m, ascended: 1446 feet, descended: 1774 feet, food: $36.90, lodging: $5.00 at See You Lodge, total distance to date: 118 miles
Day 16 April 7, 2018: REST Day in Kalopani (2430m), distance: 0 miles, food: $38.20, lodging: $5.00 at See You Lodge, total distance to date: 118 miles
The western side of the Pass has been a dry, desert-like terrain, with the snow-capped peaks of Nilgiri and Dauligiri peeping above brown hills and then disappearing behind swift-moving clouds. Today, the landscape morphed again to a verdant green, with spring blossoms adding a pop of color. We returned to the eastern side of the Kali Gandaki River, following the re-built NATT trail along the contours of the valley. There is no wind south of Marpha and no roads on this side of the river. Today's hike felt more like a stroll through an old European forest than the lower Himalayas. The soft, springy trail was mostly flat, passing through tidy villages. There was one significant uphill-downhill segment just outside of Sauru, providing expansive views of the river valley.Gorgeous, tall pine trees swayed in the wind. The rush of the river accompanied the chatter of birds and frogs. Today made me so thankful that we decided to hike the western region.
Just south of Kokkhethani, with its single slate-paved walkway, we crossed back over the river to Kalopani just as raindrops began to fall. We enjoyed quite an evening thunderstorm from the comfort of our cozy bed. We decided to spend two days in Kalopani. The sinus infection I had carried with me since Muktinath had only gotten worse, so I started a round of antibiotics (kindly provided by Caffrey's sister in advance of our trip - thank you!!). We wanted to give it a day to kick in. It ended up raining all day during our rest day, so it was the perfect day to recover.
When the clouds finally cleared, we were astonished to see Annapurna I. Turns out that Kalopani is one of the rare places on the Annapurna Circuit with a view of the tallest of the Annapurna peaks. If we had continued onward yesterday, we would have missed this golden gift!