Thursday, April 5, 2012

"Feet, Feet, Feet"

Tuesday, April 3

"Feet, Feet, Feet"

We began our day in Namche, again seeing some of the climbing royalty whom we'd met the evening before. We snagged a quick photo with Dave Hahn before loading up and heading down and out.

As we were walking down the dreaded Namche Hill, we were talking about how fortunate we had been with the weather. At that point, Jeff said, "If it rains from here to Lukla, I'd be okay with it." Within fifteen minutes , the heavens opened. Thanks, Jeff. (To his credit, he did assume full weather-god responsibility for the onslaught.) While we dodged a downpour, the thunderstorms and heavy rain did make for some speedier walking. Not to mention interesting bridge crossings, as the bridges were rain-slicked metal slats. On one bridge, I kept feeling this nudge on my right side, and when I finally lifted up my eyes, for a nanosecond, off the slippery bridge, I realized it was Corell trying to slip by me to get off the bridge. Seems our imperturbable 'Rell doesn't like thunder and lightning and metal bridges all at the same time. Fortunately, with the 3 foot fencing on both sides of the bridge, I wasn't in much danger of slipping off.

It was a day of "feet, feet, feet". Whether Jeff's, Linden's, Lucy's, Corell's or my own, feet filled my view. I did managers look around a few times, and was surprised at the loveliness of cherry blossoms, cabbage patches, stone walls, and daffodils. Even saw pLinden, he of the "get off the bridge if you see a yak coming toward you" advice, deciding to play chicken with a yak on one of those slick bridges. We watched from our safe perch at the distal end of the bridge as Linden squeezed by the yak, using a top- heavy porter ahead of him to block out the yak. Luckily, he made it over to us, but not without some commentary by our crew!

And so, in our shells, and in the pouring rain, we walked on. My blisters from the day before had rebloomed, and each heavily-weighted downhill step sent pain shooting up my legs. Nothing I hadn't dealt with before. Taping or no taping, those blasted blisters burn.

Jeff and Linden stopped as few times to say hi to their incoming friends- one of whom is photographer/ mountaineer Jake Norton- someone I'd love to talk with, but alas, not on the trail, in the rain, at ~9000 ft. Later in the morning, Jeff stopped at a small tea house to hide from the thunder and lightning. The woman running the small teahouse seemed rather startled to see us- as did the six or so young men who were already seated. We treated ourselves to tea, and listened to the thunder. After an "appropriate" rest interval, we walked back out in the rain and walked as quickly as we could to Phakding where we stopped at the "Apple Pie Teahouse" for a hot lunch and the hope of warming ourselves. The lunch was hot, but we remained chilled and wet throughout our stay- which made it almost impossible to head back out.

After lunch, we had to tackle the "Lukla Hill"- a "treat" I was hoping would give my aching and blistered feet a rest from the downhill punch and slap they'd been subjected to all morning. Once again, I surrendered my pack so that we could move faster as a team. We walked up that hill in our best "heading to the barn" mode, and we made good time. Once in Lukla, we unpacked our bags to allow some of our wet clothing to dry a bit. How ironic that each of us had chosen that day, our last on the trail, to ignore the plastic bag liners we'd been using before now to keep our clothes dry in case of rain. We sure paid for it- but thank God it was our last day.

After showers and some organization, we met for dinner in the toasty warm dining room. After our dinner, we had the excellent good fortune to witness other trekking groups celebrate the end of their trips. A lot of beer was flowing, and they were soon dancing around, lifting others up in the air so that heads nearly missed the ceiling, dropping trou, and pretty much acting like fools. It's a testament to how beat we were that it took Linden's comment, "I am not going to watch anymore of this!" to galvanize us into leaving the room. Beware of toasted trekkers- it's an ugly sight!

There wasn't much commentary on the trail today. Usually, the front 2-3 people can hold a conversation while I, usually in the rear, can barely hear above my own huffing and puffing. It has made for some solitary trail time for me- a fact that never ceases to sadden me because my best memories of the trail are the conversations I've had and the relationships I've either forged or deepened. This time around, with the physical struggle I've had, and the relative separation that resulted, my relationship ties have been pretty minimal. It's not as much a bummer for my relationships with the Richmond girls because I'll see them at home. But here we've been on the trail for almost three weeks, and it feels as if I've barely spoken with Jeff and Linden. I can sometimes hear them up front talking, but I can rarely discern what is being said. That is probably my greatest disappointment on this amazing 3+ week adventure. I can't exactly say why it matters so much to me, but it does. Perhaps it's a curse to always want deeper and stronger relationships with those I care about, but in my mind, it feeds my soul and gives my experience depth and meaning. At any rate, they are special men, and I will cry when I say goodbye.

Love to all....

Sent from my iPad

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