Warm in my sleeping bag with lots of intense dreams, I think of them as my altitude dreams. Have to make 1 toilet run in the night, cold but so worth it - the night sky is so clear and starry. No yaks to contend with only a few snowy steps. Fall back to sleep easily for another couple of hours. Breakfast is a treat - last nights leftover birthday cake has been fried up and has taken on a kind of smoky taste, compliments the porridge nicely! Say goodbye to Santos and Minmar, the lodge owners, it has been a really personalised stay, I think to myself, yet again, how really lucky we have been to get to have have this experience.
On the road at 0821. We have a very easy start, the ground is frozen solid and it is flat. We pass a couple of other houses and local people going about their jobs for the day- collecting dung, rounding up baby calves, etc. we then start on a huge descent down innumerable steps- the problem with big downhill runs is that they are always followed by big up hills. We climb over large boulders for the
next section getting hot in the process. Strip off to the LS merino and down jacket. Side note- I am really pleased with the clothes that I have packed for this trek, perfect blend of layers- packing list to be included as last blog entry.
Take a quick drink break at the 2 hour mark- the thermoses have been invaluable. Another hour later we spot our first tea house. It is closed so we do another impromptu picnic of cheese (Dhana seems to have a never ending block of the stuff), biscuits and chocolate. He also has a kind of snack food called dura, it is beaten rice that is easy to inhale if you talk and eat at the same time, that we get stuck into. Dhana tells us we probably have 2-3 more hours before we will get to Gokyo so this is lunch.
We get down to the Dudh Kosi and walk along wet sand looking for a place to cross. High above on the other side we spot our first Trekkers of the day, they are climbing up the Machermo hill in what appears to be slow motion. W continue along the river for
a while (a nice change of scenery) before finding the 'new' bridge. It is a small wooden one adorned with the ever present prayer flags. Apparently the bridge is rebuilt every year in response to the changing river flow and water levels. We get a glimpse of Choy Alu (8000+ peak).
Having gotten across to the other side of the valley my mind wanders to the various terrains encountered by the trekker in Nepal ("50 Shades of Terrain"????). Shortly after we hit my least favourite- wet mud, the super slippery sort. This then partially gives way to sandy wet mud (marginally better) and then water logged sand. Next is pebbley, rocky stuff for a while which leads to stone steps heading back up the hill (no slip factor but hard on the breathing factor). I am sure there are 50 kinds of terrain and set about photographing them all.....
We glimpse a lake of in the distance, mirage? No, definitely an inkling of a lake. The snow begins again (and carries on all the way to Gokyo). We bump into the Chileans from three days ago and then a fairly strung out, but constant procession of other trekkers,
certainly the most people we have seen for 24 hrs. They are mostly Korean, mostly looking well dressed but unhappy- some are really struggling. Anyway, back to the lake- we have reached the first Gokyo Lake. It is very partially blue but mostly black and frozen, there are a big collection of duerali all around- a beautiful sight.
Trudge onward through the softening snow, slip factor is high. Drop into several holes and decide that more attention is required- it would really suck to twist an ankle at this point. Onward.... carefully..... Reach second lake which is almost entirely iced over except for a small section that is occupied by 2 ducks. More duerali. Wind picks up and the temperature drops, snow seems to be getting deeper and slipperier. Eventually, just before 3 pm, I reach the prayer flag entrance that marks Gokyo. Photos are taken then make my way as fast as I can to the lodge- absolutely starving!!!!!
We are staying uphill at Gokyo Resort
(Resort ????I don't think so!!!). Chitra has already arrived and dropped our bags in Room 14- great room, lake facing, sunny and warm. 2 toilets at the end of the corridor.
Gokyo Ri looms off in the distance- tomorrow's challenge.
Head back to the dining room through a haze of sulphur fumes- apparently one of the large batteries that powers the lodge is almost empty and no one knows how to fill it up. Anyway... 3:30 pm, the dining room- super warm, strip down to LS merino no vest, and inhale a bowl of vege noodle soup and Tibetan bread (I have developed a deep and enduring love for this stuff, especially dripping with honey). Manage to while away the afternoon until dinner at 6:30. Its got a weird vibe though, despite a fairly large group staying here- a lone Russian, 6 Germans, 2 English brothers and another lone English guy the dining room is almost silent. Only the Russian talks with us, he is a psychologist from Moscow called Sasha. Vege hash browns for dinner. We have a post dinner meeting- Dhana is keen for us to do the 4 hr return climb to Gokyo Ri in the morning then a 6 hour walk to Machermo. We mutiny, we want to do the climb then have a slack afternoon in the sun, walking to Dhole via Machermo the next
Who will win?
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