Today was a mandatory rest day. Everyone felt a little exhausted from the long journey the day before. I emotionally felt quite drained, though the blessings from the Ani’s and Lama Geshe were a gift, staying with an open and vulnerable heart can make it tricky in altitude. This journey thus far has been the gift in many way and it also has been quite challenging. Keeping the trip as a small journey, with only our young participants from SF and Nepal has been extremely special to witness. I feel we are becoming a little unit, a close tight new family that not even the language barriers can stop.
As this is my second to last day of being with the whole team, it was best for me to stay and organize myself and all the items that would be coming with me to Everest. We still have 2 days ahead which will be extremely challenging due to the altitude increase and though I keep praying and staying positive that all of us will make it, safety is number one and Asha, Shailee and I will have to individually assess everyone’s well-being with altitude and see how far they can continue.
Shailee and Asha took the rest of the team for a high altitude walk, just a short one for their readiness to our next stop Lobuche tomorrow.
One of the biggest advantages of Pheriche is the location of the Himalayan Rescue Association center (RHA). Given Pheriche’s altitude, it has been a great barometer to gauge people and their impact with altitude. The next RHA location is Base Camp Everest, but this is a good spot to get medical treatment for any ailing issues.
Dr. Jackie has decided to tag along with us until Gorak Shep and that to me has been an indescribable miracle and gift that she has unexpectedly joined our journey. She is currently doing her residency on ER medicine though has a lot of interest in a Wilderness specialty. She and her Brazilian friend started trekking with us since Namche and unfortunately he got badly hit with Altitude last night. Unfortunately when we left our lunch place in Pangboche yesterday, he decided to keep up the pace with his porter which was detrimental to his health. Dr. Jackie diagnosed him with Cerebral Edema and he had to stay overnight at the Pheriche RHA and this morning he was sent back to Lukla. Humbling to witness the impact of Mother Nature and altitude.
Given Dr. Jackie’s generosity with us, (being our full time physician) the least we could do was to participate in the altitude survey that she was engaged. This study is trying to track down the impact of memory relating it with Altitude. There are 3 locations for this survey, Namche, Pheriche and Gorak Shep. Once we reach Gorak Shep, Dr. Jackie will stay there for 1 week testing the rest of the participants who have opted for this study. At Pheriche, we met Dr. Isabelle, the Puerto Rican physician from the RHA, in charge of this Harvard study. She was there with her partner. It was cool to hang out with them a little more and continue our conversations in Spanish.
As the team returned back from their trek, we decided to take it easy and engage in a very intimate session for all of us to get to know each other and our stories. The 2 days ahead are really hard and with my imminent separation, today felt as the perfect timing. We all gathered around one of the larger rooms, cozied up with blankets, ginger tea (awesome for altitude) and what I thought would be a 1hr session, became a gorgeous 4hr sisterhood bonding of embracing our stories, our visions, our lives. I had hoped that something as this would happen along the trek, though was taken aback on how special and impactful it become for all of us. I have always felt that opening up in such a magical place with Nature as a backdrop can create miracles, and as we started our conversations with cloudy skies, it was marvelous to witness the mountains opening up so beautifully to us. A true magical day to remember.
By the time we were completed, it was dinner time. Everyone felt in great spirits, we had Dr. Isabelle and her partner joined us as well and at the end we completed the 2nd part of the altitude study. With such a tough day ahead, heading to bed early was key. Tomorrow our start time would be 8am!
Treat of the day: The beautiful bonding session of all of us!