Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Namche Hill

Saturday, March 17

We awoke to the golden light of early morning glancing off the nearby mountains. Our tea house, tucked away on a bend in the Dudh Kosi River, looked even more charming in the morning light.  After a quick breakfast, we started up the trail.  Today was also touted as a difficult day, because we'd end the day with the climb up the infamous Namche Hill.

The first part of the day was a lovely walk, rolling up and down along the granite stone path, through villages and past fields. We walked on beds of pine needles, and I often felt that I could be on the east coast- until a local walked by, or the porters, toting their 100+ pounds.  I was still in the rear of the pack- a position 1) I am used to; 2) where I don't slow anyone down if I stop to take a few photos; and 3)where I can have conversations and chat with the local guides who stay with me.  I have been wearing a heart rate monitor when I work out, and I brought it to Nepal so that I could essentially track my rate.  I gave my older one to Corell to wear, and we compared.  It seems that going up hill I am 30+ beats per minute higher than her- and that is problematic.  While she's barely walking, I am at max pace.  It is pretty demoralizing and I wish I could figure out why my body reacts as it does. In addition, my pulse rate necessitates my stopping to refuel every ninety minutes or so, and that is a huge drag when no one else needs to stop.  Very frustrating.

We had entered the Sagarmatha (Everest) park and stopped at a teahouse for a break just before the Namche Hill, when lo and behold, in walks Jeff!  It is just so great to see him- and he'll spend the next several days walking with us.  After the break, we crossed another bridge or two, and then tackled the huge hill into Namche Bazaar- a town which sits high above the confluence of the Dudh Kosi and another river. Over 2 1/2 hours later, we made it into Namche- just as the afternoon clouds rolled in.This hill was a bear for me- the consensus was it was similar to the Priest trail on the Appalachian trail near Wintergreen- but the altitude of ~ 11,290 ft made quite a difference. To add to the stress of the climb, I had a episode of bronchospasm (wheezing) which required an inhaler to break.  Luckily, it did, but I noticed my fingertips were slightly cyanotic.  I've never had an episode like that- only had an attack once before, and it was much milder.  While I knew what to do, it was still a bit scary because I don't know what caused it, and I certainly don't want it to happen again because I have a mountain to climb.  It was another difficult moment for me, and that begs the question about why I climb, or attempt to, when my obvious successes are few. Whether it's to push beyond my limits to see my own frailty, to find a new strength, to become a more compassionate person as I see my own struggle in others, or to see myself as a micro-organism of love in this world God created- I just can't say.  There are so many days when I cry on the trail, pushing myself so hard and yet remaining so behind, that I, too, question my sanity.  Yet I love to explore the greater questions- the who/what/why of life, and the mountains give me the opportunity to be at my most vulnerable and therefore open, I hope, to greater insight. Not to mention appreciation for the awesomeness of God's creation.  All that said, it's just so hard to not reach my goals at least some times.

While I've said many times that I am so much more about the journey than the summit, I'd still prefer to be up with the rest of the team.  I've spent a couple of days so far a bit behind the pack- which can feel a bit lonely- but I use the opportunity to learn from the Sherpa porters about their lives and their language.  I've been learning quite a lot, I think, and I still have a couple of weeks to go!

We entered Namche in the mid-afternoon, and climbed the steep terraces of the town to the Everest Base Camp Tea House.  A hot, or for me, cold, shower, a bit of down time and then dinner. Then bed.
Tomorrow is a "rest" day...which I believe simply means a "rest" from repacking our bags in the AM to leave for another teahouse on the trail.

I spent some time at one of the internet cafe in this picturesque town, and was able to check emails.  An email from John contained this poem from a friend's site, and it came at an opportune time:

Sometimes it's better not to go fast
There are beautiful sights to be seen when you're last
Shouldn't it be that you just try your best
And that's more important than beating the rest
Shouldn't it be looking back at the end
That you judge your own race by the help that you lend

And with that,
Shuba Ratri! (Good Night!)

(Photos to Follow...)

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating stuff Dana Marie. Keep the blogs coming.
    Warren Groseclose