We awoke today in the heart of the Valley and surrounded by the gorgeous and vast Himalaya mountains. While we were spoiled from our little tea house with warm beds, for the rest of the trek we were not going to encounter such luxury. Our goal was to make it all the way into the town of Pheriche, which is at 4,210 meters.
By now, most of us are feeling the effects of altitude. Some of the girls are actually having a tough cough and one of the advantages of making to Pheriche is that they have a well known altitude aid post. 10 years ago, I passed through it to check my oxygen level as I had gone really fast, only to find out that due to my Peruvian origins, I might have a tiny advantage as my sinuses are a little large.
A short time after starting our trek, we came across a beautiful nunnery. Compared to the monastery on Penboche, the nunnery had been affected terribly by the last earthquake this past May. It was nearly destroyed. There were some workers already trying to do rehabilitation work and we managed to meet one of the nuns. She didn’t speak Nepali, only Tibetean, and our guides were barely able to communicate with her. She told us that the rest of the nuns had left for a convention in Pangboche and wouldn’t be back for several days. We all donated a little money and got her blessings.
As we continued our journey, the road wound around a beautiful river. The backdrop of Amadablam and the other mountains were stunning. Along the way we kept encountering ice and some drops of snow, which made the girls very happy and too playful. Lots of pictures were taken. It was sad to see one of the main bridges destroyed by the earthquake, and it pushed our route further until we could cross one of the standing rivers and begin our climb into Pengboche. That final incline was tough thanks to the ice, and the route hadn’t been clearly defined, so we were constantly improvising. At the top of one of the main climbs, the scenery was quite stunning and looking back at what we left behind made the effort less painful.
As we passed through some towns, it was adorable to see the little ones coming to greet us. This little girl was too cute with her big high fives.
When we made it to our lunch spot, almost everyone had to lay down as the altitude was hitting us. We had soup ready for us and lots of lemon and black tea hit the spot. We rested for about an hour, taking advantage of the beautiful scenery and sun.
Once we were on our way again, we came across a plain stretch (no more hilly rocks for a change). In the middle of this vast area, we spotted two nuns making their way towards us. The group that was ahead stopped them and we all managed to catch up to them. There were so sweet and spoke a little Nepali. We told them we were a special group of women walking towards Base Camp Everest and ask for their blessings. They gave each of us a special blessing and then many of us gave them a special offering plus sweets. It’s really funny how giving sweet treats to passing nuns and monks is more of the norm as they walk for hours and these foods keep their energy going. Lisa took several photos with us and the nuns. They were so gracious and to me this was so very special. I had only dreamt of a moment like this – to have nuns bless each of us on this journey.
We proceeded our long trek and ultimately were able to spot Pheriche. It was a short descent to this beautiful picturesque town and then to our hotel. Everyone was in good spirits and we made great time – about 6 hours total trekking. As we settled in, one of the key priorities was to head over the altitude aid post and make sure we could get a check on all the girls. As we approached the clinic we saw a memorial for all the Everest casualties, something that was quite somber to acknowledge.
As we got to the clinic it was sweet to see that the cost for checking foreigners was $65 USD vs the check for Nepali nationals which was only 50 Rupees (50 cents). All the girls wanted to see the tall American, Dr. Dan from Florida, and it was really cute to see how they all wanted to be first. This whole episode will be one of the more memorable and funny experiences that I witness. Unfortunately, the girls don’t get a chance to see doctors very often and their immune systems haven’t been at their best, though through this whole trek my oximeter has given me a good idea on how their health was tracking.
One by one, each girl sat down and they were way too excited to share all their issues. None of them spared any detail and every appointment was quite long as they were too comfortable talking about the last several months of their health concerns. Three of the girls had developed a cough and we found out it was the famous “Khumbu Cough.” The dry air conditions in the area cause you to develop a lingering cough that you can only get rid of once you leave the area. Dan checked every one of the girls and gave us the green light to continue. We got decongestants for some of the girls and throat lozenges for others. It was just really sweet to see the enthusiasm of each of the girls. After the mandatory picture we headed back for dinner and rest.
The following day was supposed to be a rest day. Many of us had looked forward to it, however as I checked on the weather, we saw that there was a risk of rain for Monday (our Base Camp day). Given that everyone was doing great, we agreed to skip the rest day and try for a base camp push on Sunday instead of Monday.
Tomorrow would be the largest altitude gain close to 2100 ft/700 meters, so we all hydrated and agreed to an early start, as we’ll have to take the day quite slowly. My treat for the night, a quick walk outside to encounter another shooting star. Good night.