Most people come to Ghorepani to experience the landscape spotted from Poon Hill and we weren't an exception. At 4:45am Steve and myself headed to the top, joining a snake of head torches. Over a hundred people gathered around an observation tower and we all were rewarded by seeing an unforgettable stage in front of us in form of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges. For the first time I spotted Annapurna I (8,091m), which actually doesn't dominate the horizon. After all picture taking we returned to have breakfast. This was in fact the end of my Annapurna circuit trek. Glad it finished with Poon Hill - an icing on the cake. From now on as opposed to going down to Pokhara I change course and head to Annapurna Sanctuary with the Base Camp as its highlight. Having said good bye to Steve, who's next destination was Pokhara, I slowly set off for Tadapani.
Shortly I reached a hill overlooking mountains we had seen early morning. Luckily the way was mostly downhill, so another set of muscles than yesterday was employed. Trail leading through a forest was often flooded by a creek. I got to Tadapani (2,630m) pretty early, around noon. For lunch I joined two hiking geeks, Jaro from Slovakia and Matthew from Hong Kong, overlooking Annapurna South (7,219m). I decided to merge two scheduled days into one and carried on with them. 700m steep descent to a valley was knee-killing and subsequent ascent exhausting, passing few marihuana plants along the way. At 3:30pm we finally reached Chhomrong (2,170m), a little town on a slope facing Annapurna South and Machhapuchhre (6,997m). We stayed in the same hotel as American missionaries from Hawaii donating medicines, glasses and spreading the word of Jesus.
I woke the guys early in the morning by packing my stuff as it was going to be a long day and in order to keep up with them I wanted to have a head start for they are faster walkers. As usual, the view was clear and Hiun Chuli (6,434m) showed its beauty. I left before 7am, comfortably shaded by surrounding mountains. The very beginning was quite demanding, steeply descending and ascending again through a valley. We were again merging 2 days in one. Our destination was Deurali, a good starting point for next day's hike to Annapurna Base Camp (ABC). Although a long walk (5h 40mins net walking time), it wasn't that tough, steep passages were short enough for one to catch his breath during easier bits. Jaro with Matthew left at 8am, so actually didn't catch up with me all the way, thus we met again in Deurali (3,200m). Trail was often very narrow, overtaking multiple member groups was a bit tricky. There wasn't much to see on the way, most of the time forest was the only scenery. Machhapuchhre reappeared from time to time though. We were lucky to get the last room in the lodge. The higher you climb the more difficult in gets to find vacancy. My glisters slowly disappear since haven't been wearing boots for several days now. Before dinner we tried rakshi – local wine.