Where We Be
Annapurna Sanctuary, Nepal (Days 23-26)
The next two days were, objectively, some of the
hardest hiking days of the trek -- or would have
been if we hadn't been in such good hiking shape
by then. After three weeks of continuous trekking,
even steep uphill stretches didn't phase us much,
and we were able to power up the endless stairs
without stopping too much. The first day was a mix
of steep ups and downs, but the second day was
almost all uphill for 830 m (2,700 ft).

On the third day we reached the top -- Annapurna
Base Camp (ABC). We found ourselves in a vast
amphitheater surrounded on all sides by some of
the tallest mountains in the world. Here we were,
standing at nearly 14,000 feet, nearly as high as the
highest mountains in Colorado, and yet all around
us rose mountains another 14,000 feet above us!

But it wasn't until the morning of the fourth day,
which dawned cold and clear, that we got the full
impact of ABC. The afternoon before had been
misty and snowy, but now it was crystal clear and
the peaks covered with white. We got up pre-dawn
(brrr!) and watched the sun rise on the mountains.
What a sight! The tops of the peaks were tinged
with gold, and it was a picture-taking bonanza as
the sun moved slowly down the mountain faces.
We descended endless stairs to lower Chomrong and the river valley -- knowing full well we would have to do all of this again in reverse on the way back
Next day involved a lot of steep uphill climbing. We crossed this high-running river just before the Himalaya Hotel.
The final push! This is Machupuchare Base Camp perched  on high, where we stopped for tea before pushing to the top
From the majestic to the tiny: delicate flowers flourish trailside
Our first view of Annapurna Base Camp (see the small buildings at the base of the peaks?)
Made it! Snow was just starting to fall as we arrived at ABC (4,130 m / 13,629 ft)
We slept one night at ABC -- very cold but worth it for the views next morning!
ABC also serves as a base camp for die-hard climbers attempting to summit nearby peaks
By late afternoon we were socked in, making for some mystical prayer flag photos
Prayer flags up close
Here comes the sun!
There's really no way to capture with a photo the feeling of being surrounded on all sides by high mountains -- this is the best I can do!
A last look over our shoulders at ABC before heading towards that chocolate cake in Chomrong!
This small tarn offered big reflections
After 3 hours of soaking up the views, we started the hike back down towards warmer weather
Warming up with some masala tea on a very chilly morning
Looking in a less-photographed direction -- still pretty dramatic!
A glorious morning at ABC -- all the hard work of getting here was totally worth it!
We witnessed this landslide across the valley -- the biggest we've ever seen
We stayed at Buddha Guest House in the tiny town of Bamboo. Here the proprietor plays a billiards-like game with her son.
The weather turned cold and overcast as we neared Deorali, where we stopped for the night near this waterfall
We made friends in Deorali while looking for shaggy deer on the hillside (note we're wearing warm clothes again!)
It was already cloudy by mid-morning as we neared ABC
We enjoyed watching the porters play an energetic, spike-filled game of volleyball that continued even once the snow and sleet came
Next morning dawned clear and cold
Grateful for a perfectly timed crystal-clear morning
We saw this rescue helicopter fly over ABC and on down the valley
It's always so hard to tell if Robin's happy!