Dingboche (4360m) to Lobuche (4930m)
Bad start, Mary is feeling really dreadful today, decision made to stay a bit longer and see how she feels after breakfast. This girl is such a trooper, she never gives up. After some Panadol (wonder drug) and Psuedafed and a LLD (little lie down) she appears saying she's feeling a lot better. The breakfast porridge arrives- it has a distinctly weird smell to it, I gag down about 1/3 of it before throwing in the towel- better than throwing it up! Mary has already finished hers- she must be feeling better! Apparently as a gesture of kindness and to give us extra strength for our big day the cook decided we needed a "treat"- porridge with yak (nak, actually) butter! Nak butter is an acquired taste- I dont think I will ever acquire it somehow...
Anyway, we end up heading off at 0810. The first part of the trek was over fairly level, dry moraine - easy walking. Amazing amounts of snow. After about 25 mins Pheriche comes into view. We cross paths with a group of Russians (not our 2 Russians unfortunately). Take a break at 2 little houses in Phulaji Kala,
they are worthy of being in a fairytale, very picturesque, very closed. Whip out our trusty thermoses and increasingly crumbly biscuits. Don't share with the Russians because they don't say hello. Awesome views down through the valley- including Cholatse and Taboche I think. We then travel mostly on grassy terrain, up a slight incline then down again to the village of Dugla at the bottom. We head into a teahouse for lunch, it has the traditional Tibetan style curtain over the front door. We are greeted by a big group, the biggest number of people in one spot for several days. They are a friendly bunch of Americans on a Christian mission. We chat over steaming bowls of vege noodle soup. Stop for 45 mins before bracing ourselves for the pointy end of the day- the afternoon is apparently pretty challenging. I am pleased with our progress this morning, we are all travelling well at this stage, I wouldn't have predicted it this morning.
The afternoon holds a 400m ascent and a never ending series of switchbacks. Heading up the hill after lunch it is still quite grassy. The sky is cloudy - still intensely blue but there are
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a lot of really interesting white cloud formations moving in fast. It is also noticeably colder today as the sun is blocked frequently by these striking clouds. I think it is my favourite day so far in terms of big mountain views. At the top of the hill we are greeted by prayer flags and a mani wall, through the pass are many, many chortens, a lunar landscape of duerali stone towers and man, many memorials to deceased climbers. It is a sobering walk through the area reading all of the messages at these monuments. It is also a very beautiful place, I sit in the sun and contemplate- soaking it all in. I think this is the high point for me today. The Christians arrive and depart and we stay a little longer...
The next section of the walk is essentially ice and snow paths but it is very manageable, it is seriously beautiful. We get tangled up in the Christian group- some are ahead, some behind. A lot of snow writing paves the way. We have a fairly flat path for a while with only a few easy inclines. We cross over the river, treading carefully on
the ice. Dhana points out where the Chola Pass begins and the track to Gokyo becomes visible- it's pretty exciting to think that we will be heading over it in a few days!! Finally reach our home for the night around 3pm- National Park View Lodge.
I feel like we've put in a good days work- although it's only been about 7.5km of actual walking (so I think at this stage!!!- little do we know what awaits!).
So...National Park View Lodge - well, let me set the scene... It is our most basic lodge to date except for the western style toilets (nicely decorated in crap). The lodge is basically a long skinny corridor made out of plywood and the room partitions are about 2mm thick with lots of gaps. The floors are plywood. No blankets. There is a double bed (Mary gets it because it's on the RHS of the room. Our system of who gets what is straight forward- I take the left bed, she takes the right) and a single. There is a little window. The view from the little window is priceless! Utterly incredible. The Christians are also staying here, there are packs
running the length of the corridor and it feels really noisy and really crowded (we have been so spoiled trekking in the off season, I can't imagine how it is in peak season). Although there are about 4 toilets only 1 is "working"- the water barrel in it is basically half full of ice slurry but noone seems to be using it- winner of the grossest toilet to date! Mary and I had been given a good tip last year on how to deal with disgusting crappy toilets- smear some tiger balm on the inside of your buff and pull it up before you go into the loo- it does help- believe me. Although don't be tempted to pull the buff over your eyes to reduce the visual assault of other people's crap- #1. You cant see what you're doing and #2.The tiger balm kills your eyes!!!!
After we drop our bags and pull out the sleeping bags Dhana tells us we have an afternoon hike on the agenda! No big deal! It is a beautiful climb although it is bloody freezing on the way down. The cloud is hanging over the lodge as we get back. We race
inside anticipating a warm fire but there is a tight circle around it. We worm our way in. We listen to some Christian music, have a chat and observe grace with them before dinner. Early night but before going to bed I head outside- the cloud has cleared- it is amazing- and..... the stars are back to front and upside down, hahahaha. Later, in bed.... the night is punctuated with snores. An abberant phone alarm goes off around 0100 (I wonder if this is like a 7am wakeup in the USA), and continues tunefully, relentlessly for about 15 mins. When the guy next door rolls over I feel like I'm in bed with him. Our noisiest night so far.
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