Altra ambassador West shares some of his Himilamyan trail hunting adventures enroute to Europe -
Suffice to say, it was a long New Zealand summer waiting for a dodgy hamstring to sort itself. After trying every specialist, doctor, technique and kitchen sink, the conclusion that I was simply mad, seemed like most people’s frustrated conclusion. Time, the only cure for crazy. I therefore spent most of the daylight hours riding bikes, pretending to hunt, read, farm, and for a long while even this roller coaster, evaded a cure.
With summer been and gone, time eventually started to work. Finally I was less ham-strung but now seriously underdone for CCC prep, and desperate for mountains, cue a good idea. $430 flight to Kathmandu. Bumpy bus to Besi Sahar, and nothing but 20 days of trekking and trail chasing in the Himalaya, effective fitness building perhaps.
Taking in the view high above the mountain town of Manang.
Four days fat packing up the valley, the transition from banana trees and rice paddies to 7000m+ peaks is immense. Welcome to Manang, a Nepali Chamonix of sorts. Mules replacing Ferrari’s, yak the fromage of choice and more rice and dal than you can shake a baguette at. Dropping the fat packs, and hitting the trails, this place is one of those you don’t really want to yell about. You want to keep it low key, hide it away, down play.. yes, it is that good.
There are endless climbs along all sorts of trails, with scrambles and alpine meadows, forest switchbacks and undulating traverses, as you may expect from such a mountain range. The unique monastery’s and religious sights, intricate villages, yaks, goats, “blue sheep”, and friendly locals is what gets the goods. The Nepali people refuse not to be happy, are always keen to feed and house you, and more often than not laugh at your jokes, a win for me.
View of Mt Gungapurna and glacier from Manang village
Regardless of the ever talked about “road ruining the Annapurna circuit”, or the rubbish and imported goods around each corner, it’s hard to point fingers at people so hungry for growth and so stoked to develop and improve. It has made my summer injury woes seem less significant, and the chase for trails and enjoying the moment more. Easy when some of the best tracks in the world are minutes away. Grab your shoes, book a flight, catch a bus, walk a few days and adventure these trails for yourself.