Today was fucking brutal. There’s really no other way to accurately describe it.
We set off from Junbessi around 7:30am and walked uphill for about an hour. It wasn’t too steep though and initially I had no problems with it.
However after about 45 minutes of walking I started to feel a bit sick. I’d had some congestion since China that had lingered and remained as a cough and more recently a runny nose. I started to get that achy feeling that generally accompanies a cold – not a great way to start out a very long day of trekking. But I pushed on as I had no other choice.
After about 2 hours we came to a house and took a brief rest while overlooking the valley below.
After admiring the view for a few minutes we were ready to continue on. We turned the corner around the side of the house and BAM! The Himalayas.
They were huge and snow capped and gorgeous. And all the way to the left was Everest – the reason I was doing all of this. Ironically from where we were it wasn’t all that impressive looking in comparison to the others in front of it. But Everest is just farther away so it looks smaller.
It was still weird though to stop and think about the fact that you’re currently viewing the tallest mountain in the world – something you’ve only read about and seen on TV.
It was also slightly intimidating to look at Everest and realize, “Oh shit – I have to walk ALL THE WAY OVER THERE.”
The road now was pretty easy as we walked along the side of the mountain with the Himalayas urging us on.
Slowly the path descended towards the river below (I would come to hate rivers during this trek as it always meant a steep down to cross it and then the inevitable steep up to follow) and we lost sight of the mountains. After crossing the river we made the 45 min uphill climb to the town of Ringmu where we decided to stop for lunch.
The three of us split a liter of hard apple cider and waited for our orders…which took about an hour and a half to arrive. None of us had ordered anything crazy and others who ordered after us got their meals before we did. We finally found out upon multiple inquiries that they’d forgotten to put in our meals. Awesome.
We didn’t end up leaving Ringmu until about 2:30pm and we still had at least 3 hours to go. Plus at this point I was feeling even worse than the morning.
We walked uphill for about an hour and a half to make it over yet other pass and just when I thought the day couldn’t get worse it did as we now had 2.5 hours of steep and slippery downhill (I came to hate passes just as much as rivers for their steep uphill and subsequent steep downhill). It was so muddy and slick and loose rocks were definitely not in short supply. While I didn’t roll my ankles as much as yesterday, my knees and ankles were still thoroughly shredded from the previous day’s downhill excursions.
From the top of the pass we’d been walking with a caravan of donkeys and their handlers. We had to compete with them for the path, deal with lots of mud and donkey crap all over the rocks, loose rocks that you sometimes couldn’t see due to the mud and excrement, and the knee-jarring steepness of the downhill. Add in my already feeling sick (I even spent the entire day in my sweatshirt though it was pretty hot out in an attempt to sweat out whatever illness was plaguing me) and I was straight up miserable.
We pressed on towards Nuntala as it would make the following day’s hike a bit more manageable. We’d read that while you could see Nuntala almost the whole way down the pass that it never seemed to get any closer. They weren’t kidding.
My body hurt so bad and I felt like absolute shit. Just once when I start singing ’99 bottles of beer’ near the end of my day when I’m struggling I’d like to NOT make it all the way to the bottom of the song and about half way back up before reaching my final destination. (In case anyone was wondering…”5 empty bottles of beer on the wall. 5 empty bottles of beer! You put them back up, because you’re now drunk. 6 empty bottles of beer on the wall!” Made it up during the steep uphill to Sete…thought it worked pretty well).
It took us seemingly forever to get there and even when we did we had to walk pretty far into town to find a guest house. At this point it was about 6pm and we didn’t even care that we had to pay for the room.
I peeled off my disgusting clothes, washed myself with baby wipes, slathered Tiger Balm everywhere, popped a few Ibuprofen, and skulled the remainder of my water with a packet of Emergen-C.
I then sorely and gingerly made my way downstairs to a dinner of garlic soup, plain rice, and a cup of hot lemon which helped to warm me right up. I started feeling a bit better after a while so unless I take a turn for the worse overnight we’ll probably head out again tomorrow.
Spoiler for next time: I’m still sick but we trudge on anyway. Luckily there’s dal bhat at the end of the tunnel (click here)
For all my Everest Base Camp trek posts visit here!