We woke up to a beautiful day – sunny and crisp, decked with brilliant blue skies and edged by the sparkling white snow covered mountains. I dragged myself out of bed and realised that my headache was still bad and I felt like death warmed up. I took a disprin, ate my umpteenth omelette of the trip and gingerly sipped on my tea. Oh boy, today was going to be tough!
We gathered outside of the lodge and I quietly joined the back of our group as we tackled the steep steps that lead us out of Namche. I soon fell behind, not being able to force my body to go any faster and cursing every laboured breath that came out from my buff that covered my face. At the top of the hill, I had to ask another group which way I should go… I don’t think anyone realised I wasn’t with them! Luckily, a few of my team had stopped to take off jackets a bit further up the path. I took a deep breath, calmed myself down and joined them as we made our way onwards. I listened idly to Gerald and Nico discussing some business issues, this distracted me and soon I was ticking along and enjoying the view and the sunshine. After a while, we came to a corner and a lot of commotion. Several hikers had stopped and there was much excitement and photo taking. Around the corner, we were treated to our first view of Mount Everest. In the distance, between other peaks, the unmistakable peak peeped out, with its’ plume of fine snow blowing off of the summit. We took LOTS of pictures. We started to excitedly babble about our climbers expedition… other trekkers were told in no uncertain terms that we had four heroes with us who all would be standing on that very peak. We felt proud to have the important task of accompanying these super South Africans to the bottom of their dream.
We saw a few bearded vultures soaring on thermals across the valley. This along with the majesty of the mountains was a treat and I really enjoyed this part of the day.
From here on, I started to deteriorate. I was feeling weak. My mind was playing tricks on me. I felt useless. Why did I decide to do this? What was wrong with me? Why wasn’t I riding my bicycle somewhere?? The weather started to get colder and the sun disappeared. We left the beautifully manicured path and the track became gnarly. Yaks seemed to be everywhere. I had managed to fall to the back again. Oh boy, I am really not good at this walking thing. I had three Sherpas behind me, Tenzing, Pudding and Tikka (excuse the spelling!). They respectfully kept to my pace and sensed my distress. I didn’t feel that they were pressurizing or judging me however, I did wonder if they thought I would make it!!
We came to a suspension bridge and Tenzing had to stop a yak train from getting onto the bridge from the other side. It could have been a very scary game of chicken as the bridge sways precariously in the wind and the heavy yaks would have made it worse. Shortly after we had safely crossed, we found the rest of the team at a pretty restaurant next to the river. I sank down into a plastic chair absolutely exhausted. All I wanted to do was sleep. I managed a short nap and then had some garlic soup for lunch. i simply could not face another omelette and there was nothing else without carbs on the menu.
After a quick trip to the stand up style toilet we set off to climb the hill that would lead us from Phunki Tenga to Tengboche. It was a narrow, gnarly trail, winding it’s way steeply up the hill. The path switch backed on itself regularly and wound it’s way in between trees over rocks and loose ground. Every step was hard work. I was beginning to hate this trek. What happens if I turn around to Tenzing and refuse point blank to go on? How would I get back? Would they carry me? I was thoroughly miserable. Then, just as I was zoning out into feeling numb, it started to rain. I got my Euro Disney poncho out of my bag and put it on over my head and bag. It ripped. Oh boy. Then it started to snow… The scenery reminded me of Sabie, similar to the MTB race I did there in the rain… which happened to be my worst MTB race ever. I trudged on and eventually after 600m of vertical ascent, we got to the top of the hill. We walked to the famous Tenbouche Monastry – no way was I going in. I stopped, changed out of my ripped poncho and marched after Gerald who was heading down the slope. We got to the Rhododendron forest, it was snowing harder now, there were lots of Yaks. There was lots of mud. Well it could have been Yak poo and mud and Yak urine… it was slimy and slippery. Gerald perfected a Tarzan like swing through the bare branches… he disappeared into the distance (traitor) leaving me to teeter along the muddy path. Finally, I reached Pemba at the bottom of the slope who was grinning… grrrrr … and showing us into Rivendell Lodge.
I can honestly say that I was as exhausted as I had ever been in my life. I was cold, wet, miserable and not very heartened to see my stark room with ice on the inside of the window! The ice cold shower I had was probably the last straw. I got dressed, made my way to the dining room and sat quietly in th ecorner listening to everyone chatting. The end of a very bad day. Oh yes. I had Omelette for dinner….