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DAY FOUR Namche Bazar, 11,500 ft. to Thyangboche, 12,700 ft.
Well here we go, once again,
hot tea and washing water at my tent. Boy, I could get used to this. For
two weeks though . . . well, I don't know, it's going to be 14 days before
I get a shower so the trade off just may not be that great.
Today we take a quick trip back down to
Namche where the Saturday bazaar is taking place. Since we have a long
day's walk ahead of us we have to make it quick. I am fascinated by the people and their ornate dress with their wares spread out in front
of them on blankets no more than two or three feet square.
Perhaps the most "appetizing?!" area is
where they sell the fresh meat. Fresh in that the carcass is right there
before me on their carpet. You point to what you want, they cut it off,
you buy it, and the transaction is over. The same person displays the
meat, cuts the meat, handles the cash, and whenever necessary changes
the baby's diaper. Is that chicken we're having for dinner, dear?
Departing the market we head for the town
of Thyangboche (ti yang bo shay). The question is really not how many
miles it is, probably only eight or ten. The real question is, what is
the elevation loss and gain? My ears perk up when I hear this one. Here's
the dreaded answer . . . we will drop over 2,000 ft. in order to cross
the river, and then we'll walk up over 3,800 ft. to reach our objective.
Going down is not too bad for the first
half hour, then I begin to feel it. Off come layers of clothing. Finally
I cross the river and am intercepted by a sherpa who hands me a welcome
hot cup of tea. Then I eat a lunch that normally only a healthy 17-year-old
boy could successfully pack away.
A one-hour nap sure sounds good now as
I lay back on a flat rock with the river rushing below me. Kinda' sounds
like the beaches of Hawaii. I keep waiting for a pina colada.
I hear a voice. I look up. I see someone
backlit by the sun standing there holding something in his hand. My mouth
begins to water and then I hear the words no one on a high-mountain trek
in the middle of a siesta ever wants to hear. "Dave, here's your pack
. . . only 3,000 more feet to go today . . . all uphill. Are
Strapping on my pack, I start up the mountain.
I'm feeling good . . . real good. And we go up, and up, and up. We catch
a distant glimpse of Everest every now and then. Sometimes in life when
you're being challenged it's those little things that keep you going.
I pass people from other groups, all breathing
very heavily, panting, tongues hanging out. They're going too fast. There's
a chance they're not going to make it, and if they do they could suffer
from some serious altitude sickness which will force some to go back.
Now I slow myself down even more. Altitude
sickness means going down the hill to the place where you last felt good,
resting for a day, and then coming back up. More motivation. I'm not about
to climb this hill more than once this trip! I see the top, but it's a
false summit. I can see the real summit beyond.
Finally . . . the top of the hill . .
. I just stand here . . . I feel real good. In front of me stands the
Thyangboche Monastery, the largest monastery in the region and one of
the highest in the world. We take a brief tour of this very well decorated
Buddhist monastery and then depart for camp which is about a half mile
I only have one word to describe the situation
upon reaching camp . . . COLD! It is only 5:30 and my tent is covered
with frost. Like magic, a cup of hot tea appears along with some warm
washing water. These guys are great. I open my duffel and it is like I
am seeing the contents for the first time. Very quickly, and luckily I
might add, I locate a candle and my headlamp and the saga of unpacking
is once more under way.
I wake up in the middle of the night absolutely
freezing, and in this type of a sleeping bag which is rated at 30 below
zero you simply don't freeze. I was shocked to discover that the zipper
in the bag had somehow separated. Fortunately it was near the top so I
concluded that perhaps if I were to zip down about ten inches I might
reunite the two sides and resume my good night's sleep.
No such luck. The zipper at the top won't
budge, and as I try to move my body into position to attack it more firmly
the remaining zipper begins to open even further.
Long story short -- the zipper opens most
of the way to the bottom and I now end up putting on every single piece
of clothing I have and then cover myself with the sleeping bag just to
stay warm. The next morning, with the help of one of the sherpas, we repair
it and go on our way.