What is with these vivid dreams? I sleep well but the dreams are intense- altitude effect? Anyway, after breakfast the plan is to go for a little bit of a walk (... 6hrs later we arrive back in Manang after the little walk). We head out past the cats perched in the sunshine, past the bakeries and shops and down a lane way, down a hill and across the icy paths behind New Manang towards Old Manang. We make our way up the hill and over the bridge, passing the ice blue Gangapurna glacial lake- seriously one of the most stunning things I have seen. There is a large frozen patch skewed off to the side with starfish shaped cracks just beginning to emerge (OK- you need to use your imagination- it is those skinny stafish that I imagine!- for those of you with no imagination I have provided an illustration of said skinny starfish.). https://encrypted-tbn1.google.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTvS3NZuJ-9hNAe-gDATMgVk_20rnAsZeyx5SASY0LCAfXEc1aC
Ok, back to the trail, we are heading for Chongkar Viewpoint (4000m). We hit the snow after a short hike uphill, at times we are knee deep in snow, slippery snow ie- with ice. Actually it is thigh high in some of the
spots that I sink into (still knee deep for most non-short people!). It takes some concentration when you are not used snow/ice. The view point is quite beautiful- prayer flags, stone memorials, and only a couple of other trekkers (remember the homesick girl from Denmark? she was there and smiling). The panorama was so incredible- the dusty arid landscape of the village and the snow covered peaks and pine trees- it was actually pretty overwhelming. Dhana pointed out the peaks of The Annapurnas, Gangapurna and Tilicho. We heard and saw a small avalanche and spent some time taking photos, including a few "Oh, what a feeling" shots (Australians know this as the Toyota advert poses).
We then head up the hill a bit further and find a warm non-windy spot to have lunch and "The Meeting"- Dhana wants to discuss the plan for the next few days and seems to want to do so privately. So, maps and itineraries out we (Dhana) refashions the route. We were going to spend 3 nights in Manang, we are now going to spend 2 (loss of ensuite!) and take our time for the next few days acclimatising before going over Thorung La
a day earlier. Written down it all makes sense, sounds like a solid plan, OK we say. Secret Meeting out of the way we get down to lunch - Nak cheese, bread rolls and Snickers bars- it was wonderful! Mary was reclining on the pine needles in the sun, I was taking MORE photos, it was truly peaceful. A memorable picnic.
After lunch we ascend to the high yak camp at 4200m, it is somewhat treacherous. Lots of ice and snow. Mary and I take several slides up and down and sideways but it is so worth it for the views. Lots more photos and Dhana and I build our own stone memorial. I add one of my own rocks - can't remember if I mentioned it in earlier blog posts- I had brought 15 rocks from from the Kokoda Track in Kings Park (Perth)- one to represent each training "lap" in our final pre-departure training session. I would leave a Perth one and pick up a local one at places that felt significant to me. Needless to say, only 10 days in and I only have a couple left but seem to have picked up about 20.
It is getting chilly and we have to be back in Manang for the 3pm altitude lecture by the HRA so we start the descent. More wipe outs, but we get there and head down to the Gangapurna lake. The starfish cracks are opening up a bit further. A few birds on the lake and a few soaring in the sky. We then encounter the mud and I find myself sliding down the side of a hill with the mud. No big deal- another brilliant use for a trekking pole- anchor yourself to the hill to avoid sliding all the way down, and wait to get pulled up by your trusty guide.
We squelch back into Manang via a tea shop and get to the 3pm lecture with really, really cold feet. An ED doctor from Boston presents the lecture which basically outlines the signs and symptoms of AMS and how to trek sensibly whilst reducing the likelihood of AMS HACE or HAPE. There is plenty of opportunity to chat after the talk and he gives our acclimatisation schedule the nod. There are also a couple of other physicians on the team- American and British, 2 nurses and the
local health staff. We got our pulse oximetry checked - 93-94% with a heart rate of 71-80, we are ecstatic. A couple of the Israelis are in the mid 80% range.
Utterly freezing now we head back to the hotel (with ensuite), have another cold wash and make a beeline for the sun room with wood stove (shame the wood stove was not yet lit). We lash out for dinner tonight and have a large flask of tea, momos and fried rice. Another big Yahtzee night with Dani, Michael (The Bavarians), Kushang Sherpa, Stephane and Dhana. Dhana instructs Kushang Sherpa on the finer points of Yahtzee strategy, Stephane "encourages" me on which box to tick with my throws- I don't think so Stephane!- it was really good fun. We all say goodnight and agree to meet The Bavarians in 2 nights.
What will I dream of tonight?
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