Monday, November 17, 2014

Himalayas DAY ELEVEN

 OK wow OK wow OK wow!!  Where do I start??  What a day!!  So maybe with 3:30am breakfast and 4am start time.  I forgot my headlamp in Kathmandu so a very nice, unknown person looked back, saw me with a penlight and left a high-powered flashlight on a rock, passing the word back along a line of 15 or so people for me to take it.  So kind and thoughtful!  Not sure how to return it since I'm not sure who it belongs I told my guide to keep it.

I pushed my body harder today than I think I ever have before, even when I've done marathons or triathlons.  About a half hour into our ascent (we climbed 1000m to go through the pass from base camp then descended 1700m to Muktinath).  I began to feel nervous and like my breakfast didn't agree with me (such slow digestion in high altitude) which drove me crazy and by the time we had been hiking for 1 1/2 hours I couldn't go more than 2 steps without stopping or I knew I'd puke.  I finally told my guide who was like, "Don't we have medicine for that?  Why didn't you say something sooner?"  

I then spent the next hour asking God to bless my co-worker (back home) who insisted on calling in a script for zofran the day before I left...I had almost instantaneous relief.  At one point I wasn't sure I could finish the trek through the pass, I just felt so sick...climbing upwards when my body felt like the earth was pulling it down by 10x its normal gravitational force and when one step left me breathing hard...add nausea to that and I wasn't doing so well.

Reaching the pass was such a great feeling, like I had won a race of some sort!  I was so happy - everyone who came through when I did was shouting congrats - it was an awesome feeling.

The descent brought me to what felt like a new country, a total change in scenery but beautiful in its own way.  I just showered (hot!) and now am shivering while my hair dries.  I'll write more later.


Ok, I feel better.  What a headache I had after my shower!  I took a nap.  And discovered the owner of the flashlight (Russian guys) so I guess my guide is losing his new light.

Anyway - today was amazing (did I mention that??!!?)...even with mountain sickness I felt like I was in a movie - one of the ones like IMAX Everest: walking in the dark under the most stars I've ever seen, watching little headlights slowly moving forward through the dark, trekking through snow on narrow paths beside precipitate drops, crossing the sweeping slopes of the pass (biggest in the world), and waiting for the sun to rise...taking each step, one at a time, willing myself up steep inclines and icy paths, across bridges and rocky knolls - barely able to think at times, just going forward.  

After the zofran my trek improved immensely: I enjoyed the view, people around me and cool words written in the snow with walking sticks: "Good job!"  "Good jorney!" "Keep going!" "30 minutes!" plus all the words in languages I couldn't read.  But even before, while I was was pretty special.

Thankfully the sky was clear, not a cloud visible.  Some porters pointed out where the recent blizzard took the lives of fellow hikers.  I offered my rosary last night for them and today prayed as we passed.

There's a solidarity on the trail.  Last night at dinner I sat with a Tibetan from Nepal who now lives in Canada, so talkative, and a group of friendly Polish people.  It's so easy to strike up a conversation on the trail and especially today (as we passed each other after the pass) to exchange congratulations.

Now that the pass has been crossed I feel ready to head for home.  I'm still looking forward to tomorrow's hike into Jomsom and the flight to Pokhara, but its not pressing to get there.  I rather think the best of this trip has occurred but who knows what God has in store!

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