Gokyo to Dhole (4200m)
Kitchen is still running on a skeleton staff, Mary and I offer to help they think we're a bit crazy, but I actually wouldn't mind- I haven't done a single domestic task for a couple of weeks now. We eat our interesting porridge at 7 having been ready for about an hour. Warren's tea smells like garlic- and yep it tastes like garlic- we think the powdered milk has been made with powdered garlic. I actually really enjoy these kind of situations- it all adds to the experience, it's also nice to sit and look out the window. Unfortunately for the Danes, and any other trekker today planning on climbing Gokyo Ri, the cloud is already coming in and descending- the views from up there today are not going to be too special. We have really been sooooooo lucky! There has been a fresh snowfall overnight and it's all looking sparkley, white and gorgeous. Make some minor repairs to my crampons - tools used include Callum's (my oldest son) Swiss army knife, a fork and a regular knife. Hopefully the lodge's utensils did get a wash- if not- I'm sorry if anyone got sick...
out into the winter wonderland just after 0730, it is the most lovely walk through the very crunchy snow. It is really easy, there is not a breath of wind. There has only been about a 2cm snowfall but everything is frozen solid. There's also that muffling kind of effect that snow creates- very magical. Walk solidly to the 2nd lake in 50 minutes- a sharp contrast to the walk in of 2 days ago. We are at the 3rd lake by 0920. The lakes are still almost completely frozen with only very small patches of visible water. The only wildlife we see are some snow cocks. I had been hopeful of a squirrel at least- we had seen one the afternoon we arrived but that was its one and only appearance. Continue on and the cloud is really coming down, the valley ahead is black and foreboding. At 1030 the snow starts falling, lightly for the most part. We walk toward Machermo and hit the trail that takes us all the way up to the top of the hill and its prayer falgs. 406 steps in total. Warren overtakes us at this point- his mitten fix to his shoe
The prayer flags are under snow
has been a FAIL. My duct tape fix is barely hanging in.
We reach Machermo at 1115, it is a nice little oasis in the snow desert. Greeted by a dog who takes us to his/her lodge. The lodge is pretty unique- it has a large forecourt with flags on a central flag pole, maypole style. Each of the rooms have a tibetan curtain with appliquéd room numbers. There are 2 bathrooms- one with a toilet seat over wooden boards and the other a standard squat. The dining room is typical of the region with lots of carpeted seats running around the room and a central wood stove (a very cold wood stove at this time of the day). Order a lemon tea and some sherpa stew- bloody freezing (the room, not the soup), the thermometer measures 4 degrees C inside. The sherpa stew warms us up a degree or two. The snow continues outside but is definitely getting heavier. As we leave at 12 MD the snow is constant and heavy. It is covering everything and has taken on a a Christmas card look. We can now barely see the trail we took a few days ago the
cloud is so low. It is quiet and powdery. That is until Sasha powers on up behind us. Actually we hear his porter before we hear Sasha- he is a good friend of Chitras and is madly calling out for Chitra to slow down.
Turns out Sasha is heading for a 1 teahouse stop for the night. The teahouse is in Lapharma- an old Russian fort/enclave?? Is Sasha spinning us a tale??? I still don't know. Sasha's porter and Chitra are off and running, talking non stop all the way. At any rate we stop here for a cuppa and share a pack of the ubiquitous Nepali coconut biscuits. Sasha implores us to stay the night and share some vodka with him, bit of dancing.....etc. Dhana is not impressed, he has other plans for us. Back out in the snow we go for the final half an hour of walking for the day. It is Dhole for us- not negotiable.
We ultimately end up in Lower Dhole at The Himalayan Lodge
, having passed through the completely closed upper section. Our room is downstairs to the main lodge and next to the toilet- last available room in town. The
stuffed yak head on the wall next to the room stares at us. Hmmm, wonder how the room will be? The room is actually pretty big- it has 3 beds and a nice view across the valley from the window. There are extra quilts on the beds. Unroll the sleeping bag in preparation for the night, put more clothes on and head up stairs through the snow to the dining room. It is full- 2 Americans, 2 Dutch Canadians, 2 Australians, all of their the porters and guides and now us. It is very cold. The conversation(s) is very loud. I wish we had stayed with the Russian. The food is really crap (HOW can you screw up vege fried noodles? HOW?). The various competing conversations try to outdo each other. I wish we had stayed with the Russian......
Go to bed very early, it is -15 degrees.
Despite Dhole the day has been beautiful.
Surprisingly, sleep like a log.
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