At 14,000-plus feet the world seems cold and ominous. Sheets of snow cover frozen lakes, contrasting the soft fluffy clouds hiding the surrounding frigid, Himalayan peaks. Once in a while, bolts of sun sneak through the clouds, bathing the beauty in a warm glowing light.
As storms blow through and the days end, the bone white world becomes blindingly grey. These are the times of waiting and hydrating and unless you gradually acclimated to the elevation, hoping the body will quickly adapt. In the past, I’ve suffered only minor altitude sickness, but at Gosain Kunda (elevation 14,370 ft.), night brought stabbing migraines. Even Diamox, an over-the-counter medicine sold at Kathmandu pharmacies, did not help. Only time and lower elevation cured the sensation of an ice pick getting jabbed into my head.
The route on this part of the trek disappears into deep snow and the path follows the footsteps of the previous trekkers. In the mid afternoon we crested a pass and as we headed down into a wide spur, the clouds (like in the below photos) rushed up the mountain like an inverted avalanche.
Porters, with deep tans, shiny sunglasses, wearing ragged tennis shoes grunted up the snowy mountainside with 50 kilos of gear strapped to their heads. Far behind, their less hardy clients struggled in the thin air.
Day 3 was probably the toughest but most beautiful of the trek. The coming days will be warmer and trails less perilous with lush terraced fields carved into the hillsides.
Stay tuned for the next installment.