This was our 7th fastpack around the Annapurna circuit and we thought of all our friends who walked together on this journey before. On this trip our nationalities included USA, UK and Nepal. First couple of days was marked with rain (delayed monsoon), wind and leeches but was compensated by views of waterfalls, hills and terrace fields. 

View of Chulus, on the way to Thorung La (5416 m)

As our effort to include local cultural experience on our trip, a local shaman in Bulbule carried a puja (a ritual) to ward off obstacles on our journey.

After two long days on the trail we were pampered with hot springs in Chame and elusive views of Mt. Manaslu. We made our way towards Manang stopping at an apple orchard for everything that was apples (apples, apple juice, apple doughnut). As part of our acclimatization we spent second night in Manang exploring side trails, visiting local bakery, enjoying a rare sunshine⛅. 

Team GI Joe enjoying a break at an apple orchard in Bhratang

Hiking to Shree Kharka (on the way to Tilicho lake) this year we explored Tilicho valley overlooking Tilicho Peak and the great barrier. For next couple of days the towering views of Annapurnas, Manaslu, Gangapurna and Tilicho gave us company.

Tilicho valley
The great barrier (left) and Tilicho peak (right)

As we moved up higher, members of our team had GI issues which is common in popular high altitude trekking routes in Nepal. No points for guessing how we got our team name now! As with all of our trips – we contract with Dr. Pranav Koirala as our remote high altitude expedition doctor and also Michael Fagin as our weather forecaster. Messaging back and forth via our satellite devices cleared all members for crossing the pass. The first group left at 5am and second at 6am and crossed Thorung La (5416 m). Since the group was divided into sub groups it was impossible to have all-in group picture at the pass. In Muktinath, town we stay after the pass, some members ducked under 108 holy taps in Muktinath temple to clear their sins and earned beer from HAL as part of the bet. 

Happy faces! L to R; Cora, Simon, Lisa, Irene, Paul and Chokki.

After exploring ~228km of trails, leeches, mountains, two giant river valleys (Marsyandi and Kali Gandaki), interacting with people and trying local delicacies (thakali, apples, walnuts , peanuts 🥜, popcorn🍿, tree tomatoes!, ..) for 12.5 days, team GI Joe successfully completed the Annapurna circuit. We continued post trip celebration in Pokhara along with Cora’s birthday!

Happy birthday Cora!

More pictures below..

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