As we move away from Upper Banana, we enjoyed the side view of the village.
Its houses dappled with snow, as if challenging the original village below, along the opposite bank of the Marsyangdi.
Further along that forested stretch of the Annapurna Circuit, we skirt a meander of the river that expels us from the broad valley of Banana and delivers to a new alpine-looking canyon filled with pine trees.
We walked it from end to end. Until we found a new wall hands and, in its extension, the Italo-Hispanic couple we had met the day before: Edoardo Berto and Sara Perez.
We complain about the excessive weight we carried. In her quick way, Sara warns us that, in that case, we would suffer twice as much. “Have you seen the punishment that is coming? Josh and Fevsi are up there.”
a punishing slope
Not on the map, not on the terrain. The truth is that the slope that led to Ghyaru had passed us by unnoticed, far more frightening than the one that had led us to Upper Banana in the late afternoon before.
Edo and Sara leave us to an already deserved snack. Shortly after, on his heels, we came upon a suspension bridge over an uneven tributary of the Marsyangdi. On the other side, the trail confronts us with a zigzag that seems to go on endlessly up the slope of the mountain.
At that moment, it still occurs to us to go back, to the alternative and much flatter trail that started from the already distant Lower Pisang. Until we glimpse the bodies of the other buddies, farther up the top.
Its relative imminence encourages us to face the slope, according to a plan we agreed on: we would regain our breath and our posture, even if it were just twenty seconds at the end of each zig or zag.
So said, so done. Forty-five minutes later, we returned to the company of Edo and Sara, both still dazzled by the scenery that lay ahead.
We salute them and share with them the unbelievable sight. Never, in the days we were already hiking, did the Annapurnas Mountains seem so close and so intimate as there. It was, in fact, the reason why Edo, Sara, Fevsi and Josh had decided to settle in the first of the guesthouses of the village.
We join them in delicious multilingual play. We celebrated the achievement and the six of us had lunch on a wooden terrace overlooking the surreal panorama we had so deserved.
By then Josh had discovered that he had forgotten his allow of the circuit in Chame and that, as frustrating as it sounded, she would have to go back two or three journeys to retrieve it, starting the following morning.
In solidarity with the German but also because of the view, the four companions decided to spend the night in that same inn. We, we needed to proceed.
In agreement, even though we were upset, around three in the afternoon, we bought some mini-chocolates as a reserve and ran off to the next village on the map.
"It's about two hours. Two, but flat!” This is how the Nepalese owner of Ghyaru's inn describes the path, displeased at seeing the sources of profit she already counted on leave.
The path (even so) much smoother to Ngawal
We soon learned that, despite being wilder and more monumental than most of the stretch between Upper Banana and Ghyaru, the trail had, neither near nor far, such a profile.
It included a series of climbs and descents often stolen from the slopes and which loomed large precipices over the river carved into the gorge. Marsyangdi – it couldn't have been another – was escorting us again.
During all the time, we came across only a European cyclist who was driving a mountain bike and a native of the Nepal who introduced himself as a guide or porter, whichever suited us best. Both went in the opposite direction.
The fact that the sun has stopped giving out on large sections of the route and that we suspect that the reinforced wind was bringing clouds that were previously trapped by the mountains, makes us speed up our pace.
With the destination in sight, the easy and vain promises of the raiser at the door, convince us to stay in the second of guesthouses we found.
Seven and a half hours after departure from Upper Banana, five of a hard walk, we enter Ngawal, the village that would welcome us in the night that, like us, has almost fallen.