The route this morning is ascending up through the fields behind Maya to join the limestone walled track leading down from Tare Gomba, this will then take us back onto the Circuit towards Yak Kharka (4020m). The fields are stony and barren and it's a reasonable climb. We spot a large trekking group a distance ahead of us. We also spot several groups of blue sheep, something has spooked them and they are running en mass across the landscape (I was kind of hoping a leopard might be in pursuit- no such luck for me, good luck for the sheep!).
We walk steadily upward for 2 1/2 hours through dusty track and low scrub- the colour is not dissimilar to the bush and northern countryside of Perth during summer (ie- parched and scraggy). We catch up to the large group (trekkers not sheep) as they are leaving the top of this particular hill. Great timing, in that it means we get to enjoy the views and the prayer flags up here alone. I quickly add another rock (see previous entry) and get down to more important matters. As we have become accustomed, out comes a morning tea picnic- chocolate bars,
fruit bars and nut bars surgically dissected by Mary into 5 equal pieces and a couple of packets of Coconut Crunchies biscuits. Thrown in for good measure is the last of the nak cheese- a well balanced snack ???? Maybe not!
The views are awesome, the snowy Chulu peaks, the pines, the very narrow river and the barren plains, the wild yaks ... The sky is intense, we just soak it all in. Some moments feel a little bit surreal. Then it's time to go....time to do some hard work.
Over the top of this hill proves to be my undoing. Steep, steep, steep, steeply down with ice and snow. We go down through deep snow and fall deeper through holes already in the track. Thank god for the silver birch dotting this hill, they prove to be a lifesaver as we at various times use them to stop sliding downward to certain death (not really, but it sounds more dramatic). I still manage to fall over at least half a dozen times and by this stage have clenched my teeth so tightly, all the while looking down, that I have a headache coming on. Following the snow
we get some respite with just mud. I don't know how Santos manages with our bags strapped on his back descending this hill. He finally loses it as well earning himself a completely mud encased backside from sliding backwards into the mud- did I mention it was muddy?
We reach the old wooden bridge at the bottom and have a 5 minute breather, it has taken us about an hour and 15 mins to get down. Santos washes his pants in the icy cold water and off we go again. It takes us an hour and 40 uphill with 1 tea stop to reach Yak Kharka. It looks like a cowboy town or a railway siding yard. My head hurts. Sit immobile with sunglasses firmly fixed to my face in the dining room of the Thorung Peak Hotel. Force down some food and decide to go lie down. At this point I am conscious that I need to walk in a straight line and look like it is just a regular headache. Fully clothed I get into my sleeping bag, take a Panadeine Forte (Paracetemol plus Codeine) and some Neurofen and try to make it all go away. Dhana
reassures me it is unlikely to be AMS given our very well paced acclimatisation, I am pretty confident it is just a tension headache. Mary and Stephane are clearly worried. There is much discussion between the 3 of them, they are all sitting on the other bed and just being with me. I feel the love. Dhana brings some garlic soup.
I wake up at midnight feeling better.... phew!
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