|The never-ending journey towards lunch|
Today was the first out of four consecutive days of hard trekking. I actually cried when I reached our lunch place at Langtang Lirung. I was physically spent and emotionally drained. And when some of our porters came to help us with our bags, I gladly gave my pack without any protest. I kept my head down throughout lunch but a few caught me wiping my tears away. When I saw the look of pity on their faces, the tears flowed more freely.
We had another fours hours of trekking after lunch so I had to pull myself together and recentre. I reminded myself why I signed up for this and repeated this phrase like a mantra:
“It's supposed to be hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it.”Alhamdulillah, I felt much better in the second leg of that day's journey. But many in the group started feeling worse. Due to the gains in elevation, many had started developing mild symptoms of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) such as headaches, nausea, vomiting and lethargy. For the first time, we had to trek in the dark. Though we could see our guest house before the sun had set, it was the typical "dekat-di-mata-jauh-di-kaki" situation.
When we finally arrived at our guest house, we were served garlic soup by our guides. It is said to be a good remedy for AMS. That night's dinner was the quietest meal we had ever had. No one was in the mood for socialising or cracking jokes.
We had been monitoring our oxygen levels and heart rates since Thulo Syabru. Not surprisingly, that night, everyone's readings were not good. Our oxygen levels had dipped to 80% to 86%. In comparison, just a day earlier, everyone's oxygen levels were 90% and above.
Day 7 (Dec 18, 2016): Gosaikunda to Ghopte (3430 m)
Although we had achieved what we had set out to do, reaching Gosaikunda was not the end of our journey. Today we were going to ascend to the highest point of the trek: The Lauribina Pass at 4610 m. The uphill ascent was slow and laborious. Everyone was in celebratory mood once we reached it. It was all downhill from here, or so we thought.
Imagine our bewilderment when we were still going up and down while supposedly descending to lower altitude. At one point, when I saw another steep hill, I let out out an anguished cry that was meant to convey: "You have got to be kidding me!"
That night, we trekked for two hours in the dark. To prevent anyone from getting lost, we trekked in a single file, with the slowest amongst us in front. Again, our porters came back to help us with our packs. We were so glad to see them because it meant that the guest house wasn't that far away.
The guest house at Ghopte was our simplest and most austere lodging. The area was one of the worst hit in the 2015 earthquake, so most of the dwellings there were still in the midst of reconstruction. The guest house had a dirt floor and plastic sheets for windows. It had no running tap in the toilet; just two buckets with some water which quickly ran out (thank God for wet wipes).
There were not enough rooms for everyone so we had to share. I shared mine with Suraya and Wany, and with two 60L bags, three daypacks, sleeping bags and blankets, we were left with very little room to maneuver.
All the inconveniences taught us 1) to be grateful for all the luxuries we have at home and 2) how very little we need in order to survive and be happy.