Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Friday, 23 March
Well, after eight days on the trail, little things mean a lot. When we walked into our tea house in the windswept small village of Lobuche, we were all excited by our rooms. Light walls, sky-lights, carved and painted doors, wallhangings, and carpeted hallways all made us feel like the queens we are. Renee and Jane, however, had the ultimate throne room- complete with a Khumbu walk -in closet. And yes, they did hold audience, as only they can.

The rooms were so warm that we had a difficult time ignoring our yearnings to enjoy the sunlight and crash on our beds. Instead, we decided to follow Jeff and Linden's advice- to get out and walk around. At first, we told our chief Mother Earth Goddess, Renee, that we were going to town to check out the museum...and we "got" her! We felt pretty good about fooling her for that brief nanosecond until we realized that WE were the walking museum relics...sad, but true.

We went out to explore this tiny village, and it was a challenge to choose between the barren landscape and the barren landscape for our "photo shoot" backdrop. There is lots of laughter with this group- with Renee, Sasha, and Laura making comments that often bring me to my knees. My "standard" is "going to ground," but it is so dirty here that I try to avoid dropping that far when I lose strength from laughter. That said, I came close to the ground yesterday as the girls chose to do a squat pose for the shoot. (If I can ever get a strong enough signal to post photos- that one would make the blog!) As it is, after a week on the trail, we are the most awesome squatters around.

We laugh at ourselves because we cannot make it til 8:30 each night. Renee swears that we've yet to debase ourselves by "early-birding" because we dine nightly at...6. (Phew, so glad we dodged THAT label!) Each day, we begin with the shakedown of how we've slept, and each evening we end with our individual talks with Linden- when he measures our heart rates and oxygen saturations, and reviews our daily symptoms and med choices.

Today we hiked from Pheriche to Lobuche, and the landscape became rockier and all traces of green disappeared. We started out on a low grade incline- walking up along, and in, the alluvial fan of the Khumbu glacier. The middle part of our trek involved a steeper climb, and I was instructed by Jeff to "lose the pack" once my heart rate reached 135 bpm. I had been doing well before that, but once he said that, I went into what I call "vklempt" mode- when my heart rate speeds up and my throat constricts. So lose the pack I did- but I hated doing so. I don't like not carrying my own weight, but in addition to saving my energy for the Island Peak climb ahead, it allows me to better keep with the team- and minimize "accordioning" the line. Still, it pisses me off.

The neat part of the hike today was reaching the top of the Thukla pass. We climbed for about an hour after our tea break, and then crested out at a large chorten. On the far side of the chorten, I was surprised to see a football-sized field of chorten memorials for climbers who have been lost on Everest. We saw the chorten for Scott Fischer- a guide who died in the disastrous Everest season of 1996. The spot was moving, and Linden commented on just how sobering it was to pass through there last year on his way to his own summit of Everest.

The rest of the hike was up and over rock- sometimes a bit of a scramble, but mostly ankle-snapping territory. This world is desolate- that is, if you ignore all the yak trains and herders and Trekkers. We are fortunate to be walking early in the season--- less noise in the tea houses and less dust on the trail.

As far as those little things? Happiness is: sunlit rooms, hot lemon tea, hot water bottles for our sleeping bags, indoor plumbing, toilet seats, pistachios, Sherpa bread with rosemary and honey, and "warm days" ( it's all relative...).
It's "bag time"--- love to all back home!!

Sent from my iPad

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