Today we started and ended on lengthy trail sections, with some road walking during the middle of the day.  Everyone was feeling stronger so we increased our walking time to 4 1/2 hours.  We finished the day at Chamje, which is located in a canyon above the roaring Marsyangdi River.  The scale of the landscape is astounding: you practically fall over backwards if you try to look at the top of the ridge, thousands of feet above you.

We are staying at a guesthouse 5 minutes walk before the town.  Like most of the guesthouses it is located right on the trail.  As usual, the owners went to strenuous efforts to convince us to stay at their place.  We resisted, telling them we wanted to look at the options in town.  However, once we had a view of town, with the rough road running through it, we decided to return to the first guesthouse.  At that point we realized the female owner of the guesthouse had followed us, and eagerly led us back.  The young guy working there, Purna, later told me that prior to the construction of the road 300 to 400 trekkers walked past their place each day, and all the guesthouses were full to bursting.  With the road, most now start further up the valley.  We are the only guests staying here tonight, and we saw only a handful of other trekkers in town.  Purna said in frustration “I tell people that trekking means walking, not taking a jeep.”
The costs of a tea house trek are odd.  When Ruth and I are travelling, accommodation generally amounts to half of our daily expenditure.  That is not the case in the Annapurna Circuit.  Our room tonight is free, with the understanding that we will eat and drink at the guesthouse.  The food is reasonably priced, although we are already noticing a steady increase as we get further up the valley.  It is beverages that are strangely expensive.  For example, we had an enormous plate of noodles with egg and vegetables for lunch.  It cost less than $5, and also less than a large bottle of beer, which was about $6.  So if a trekker is on a budget, the first thing to give up is beer and soft drinks.  I should note that the food has been delicious, and I am developing an addiction to the masala tea.

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