Annapurna Circuit: Fueling Advice
By Jonny Morsicato + Dikshya Ban of the Coyote Collective
What do you think when you hear the word Himalayas? If you're like me, you immediately are taken to scenes from John Krakauer’s Into Thin Air - harsh wind, minimal oxygen, and frigid standing air temps. When my partner Dikshya and I started planning to do the Annapurna circuit at the beginning of Covid-19 this notion held strong and we started to plan for layers of down jackets with little recourse for warmth. We quickly found out that the circuit would actually fall mostly in the dense jungle and our attire would probably be the shortest shorts that were culturally appropriate and brief interludes of the high alpine layering. Overall, this meant one thing; LOTS OF SWEAT and the loss of a lot of important electrolytes (sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium) along the way. Naturally, we turned towards Skratch to find fuel for the journey.
A quick background on the Annapurna circuit; it follows a 160-230KM route from Besisahar to Nayapul and moves from a tropical climate at 600 meters to an arctic climate at 5400 meters. Along the way, there are numerous towns with teahouses that will rent travelers a room for 500-1500 Nepali rupees ($5-$15 USD) or free if you buy a meal there. The gear needed for the circuit is minimal since food and housing are ubiquitous, but one big issue that all travelers will have to face is the constant fight to find purified water. ACAP has done an excellent job at building purification stations, but for those of us that wanna go a bit farther everyday you must pack a filtration solution. We used a filter bottle and iodine that would leave a little chemical flavor behind - easily hidden with a packet of Sports Hydration Mix. There is also bottled water for sale nearly everywhere, but anything you buy stays where you leave it, there is no trash service in the Himalayas. Make sure to follow proper LNT protocols!
Our goal was to do the circuit in 10 days with the addition of Talicho lake, the world's highest alpine lake, this meant we would need to average 17 miles a day with 4000 vertical feet - a little more than double the recommended speed. For the 10 day trek we settled on supplementing the local food with the following Skratch products split between the two of us;
10 Wellness Hydration Drink Mixes
10 Hyper Hydration Drink Mixes
20 Sports Hydration Mixes
20 Energy bars in mixed variety
10 Matcha Green Tea Energy Chews
In general, we did our best to eat something every hour to keep up with our nutrition throughout the day. Usually, this would consist of a local snack, Kurkuri or Tibetan bread, but about once a day we would end up running out of local food and eating one of the Skratch bars — the Cherry Pistachio was our personal favorite. During the heat of the day we would also drink 1 of the Sports hydration mixes, this kept fatigue and cramping at bay. Then in the evening, we would both drink a saltier mix (Wellness Hydration or the Hyper Hydration) and an extra liter of water to increase our water retention for recovery overnight.
PRO TIP: order the large liter of boiled water and drop in your hydration mix to keep you warm in the high alpine.
Throughout the 10 days on the circuit we both were in high spirits and really only hit a wall during a long day going up and down roughly 16,000 stairs in 10 miles. This is the final stretch of the Annapurna circuit and sends you up and over a sub-peak called Poon Hill.
On day 10 we arrived in Nayapul at 5:30 PM to meet Dikshya’s parents (Kathmandu locals) and began a 6 day road trip around what felt like the rest of Nepal. We drank tea, ate Momos, Pani Puri, and as much Dal Bhat as we could fit in our stomachs. Our total trip stats landed at 176.32 Miles with 42,031 feet of elevation gain and only 1 lonely Peanut Butter & Strawberry bar left in the bottom of my backpack. I can confidently say that using Skratch throughout our journey not only helped our recovery, but kept our morale high and legs cramp-free. We left the trip with no residual injuries and both were back running and exploring on our return to Colorado. I would recommend the Annapurna circuit to anyone looking for a fun adventure and to experience the wonders of Nepal.
Feel free to contact me with any questions about the Annapurna Circuit!
About Jonny Morsicato
I’m a mountain athlete and Data Scientist from Denver Colorado with a passionate heart for helping people into the world of adventure. I live to splitboard, run, bike, climb, and explore the high alpine and hot desert. I culminate all of my interests while helping run a small media house called The Coyote Collective.
Follow Jonny’s Adventures: @jonnymorsicato
Follow The Coyote Collective: @thecoyotecollective
About Dikshya Ban
I am a fitness enthusiast based out of Denver, Colorado and enjoy fueling my body with plant-based whole foods. Running has transformed from being merely a fitness activity to a personal reverence for the outside as I was introduced to trail running.