The thing about cold weather is that your snot freezes! When you blow your nose, because the anot has crystalised inside your nose, it tears the blood vessels. This either causes your nose to bleed like you have been punched by Mike Tyson (like Brett’s); or the next time you blow your nose you blow out blood clots the size of marbles and think your brain is falling out (like me).
One of my favourite and frequent hot drinks in Nepal is hot lemon. It is two teaspoons of lemon drink powder stirred in boiling water but it tastes just like a lemondae icy pole. It is fantastic!
The temperature registers again today at 4*C inside our room but it is the first day we have not had sunshine so outside it is much colder. It takes me so long to warm up today and my breathing is strained; it is fortunate the first leg of today is relatively flat terrain across the yak grazing plains. The gully vreeks have frozen over and we hop scotch across icy rocks to pass over. We encounter half a dozen yaks sleeping near the path and the bull, which is a caramel colour, is absolutely massive! They don’t seem to mind us within a few feet of them to take their photos so we do and move on.
On our descent into the next valley of Thukla, we see Cho La Lake between the next few mountains. It is crystal blue and I am sure freezing (some crazy Japanese man jumped in naked a few years ago to make a record – stupid). We cross a fast flowing semi frozen river on an ‘I am going to die any second’ wooden bridge and we rest for 10mins o the other side. I decide not to rest too long and let my muscles freeze so I begin the mammoth task of climbing a 2km, rocky as all hell, 30-degree incline, mother of a mountain side. There is only one way over – this way. I slot in behiond a pack of porters again and head on up. The only thing my body can process at this point other than moving my feet and breathing is: ‘clever hobbits to climb so high’! Over and over and over and over… your mind thinks of some crazy things when under duress.
I wait at the top for 30mins for Tendi and Brett. While I wait I chat with a funny young porter who jokes about why I would want to take his picture because he is dirty and indicates he is much lower class than me by sleeping on the floor. I merely answer because he is interesting, he is different to me and he is a person. He translates to his friends, they laugh and they pack up and say goodbye.
Brett and Tendi arrives. Brett has been sick again but due to over exersion. The top of the hill is a welcome stop for everyone. It is covered with memorial stones for those who have died on the mountains. It is also covered in prayer flags and cairns which sit around a large empty space like a field. After we rug up some more (it is much colder now) and Brett has been sick one more time, we move on to the track beside a creek which leads all the way into Lobuche. The village could not have come sooner. I have developed a painful headache and slight vertigo. At 4680m it is slight altitude sickness. I am wearing five layers of clothing and about six kgs of pack which also doesn’t help the weight on my shoulders and neck.
Lucky left before us this morning and I am pleased to see him when he steps in front of me. He has been waiting for us for an hour and he has already checked our pack into a double room at a lodge, Above the Clouds, Lobuche. His real name (I find) is Lachinram, so calling him Lucky is not so far from the truth. Even Tendi is calling him Lucky now. He is happy to see us and I him. That gaping smile just makes me laugh and he has such a funny laugh we are all in histerics.
There are a dozen or so tourists at the lodge we are staying at (even a family with a 10 year old, 13 year old and 15 year old kids). We are all in the dining room penning a journal or reading a book. It is nice to have European company, as much as I like the porters, they over-ran us last night at the lodge and they all smell funky! I mean REALLY bad.
Tomorrow is our last leg before we visit EBC. All things working out well will mean we can stay at Gorak Shep two nights and make day trips. If we don’t manage well with altitude we will come down the next day. It is a pretty arid and desolate place up here but there are always smiles and yaks, people and ponies to keep us amused as we sit in the shadow of a few very large large snow covered mountains, feeling very small.