Note: I am writing this in the evening of March 8, but have no internet connection, so I will post it when I do.
True to form, what looked like a relatively easy day on the map, turned out to be grueling. We began at Junbesi at about 2600 meters and climbed up and around one of the north-south ridges. Net gain was only about 300-400 m, but all the little ups and downs probably doubled that. Then it was down down down to another river-crossing via a long steel suspension bridge, then up for 1 hour to a small village for lunch, then up up up to Taksindu La (la = pass), a low spot in the next north-south ridge. Then came the grueling part. A 900 m plunge. While easing my way down the steep trail, I found out that the smallest appendage on my body can cause the greatest pain. No not that one…..my right pinky toe. That little bugger started jamming on the morning downhill section. A boot lace readjustment seemed to help my toe a little, but then my left achilles heal started to get stabbing pains – not fun, a snapped tendon would end the trek on the spot and require evacuation. The pain seemed to lessen on the way down, so hopefully a couple of NSAIDs will solve it.
To make a miserable day even worse, the afternoon clouds came again and the rain began. By the time we reached the hillside village of Nuntala, it was a steady downpour. I stood in the rain while Bhakda ran from lodge to lodge looking for rooms. The one he finally chose was distinctly NOT luxurious. The room had a 2 inch-thick mattress about half the size of a standard twin, and room enough beside it to turn around. The down-the-hall toilet was standard squat. No sink, no trash can, no shower, no warm wood stove. I think the night before must have put him over budget and this is a make-up.
The highlight of the day cake just before sunset, when the clouds parted and gave us a glimpse of snow covered 6000 m peaks.
After a baby-wipe bath, and donning some warm, dry clothes, I felt much better. Down in the cold dining room, along with my usual pre-dinner hot tea, I was also offered a tasty plate of spicy buffalo meat.
Tomorrow, we finish the downhill plunge to the low point in the trek at 1500 m, so I have a 700 m downhill to negotiate with my bum feet in the morning. But my guide promises that tomorrow is any easy day; I would like to believe him….
Some scenes from the day’s hike. Flowers were every where, terraced hillsides, and cute Sherpa kids.