Acclimatizing Days

Feature Image today is a take on our beloved (before the Kaepernick bullshit) Nike brand here in Nepal.  We call it “Fashion” shoes which just happen to have a similar swoosh.  Of course you can find everywhere “The North Fake” brand (also known in the west as The North Face) and others.  No brand police would bother to come up to Namche and bust those vendors.

The scenery is starting to change, not better or worse, but definitely we now know we’re in the Himalayas.  Snow capped mountain peaks everywhere.  Yesterday was our acclamation day in Namche Bazaar, a purpose built village just for people transiting off to the different routes throughout the countless huge peaks where people explore and some even summit, including Everest.  The town is built into really a cliff at about 11,300 feet up and it curves naturally along that escarpment with tea houses — aka hostels, restaurants, shops selling gear for the trek since it’s the last real town moving forward.

Did I mention its freezing?  Well, it is and of course nobody has heat for the patrons anywhere.  You can only walk around with a winter feather puff jacket and probably 3 layers — always, even in your room. Last night the dining room had issues with the 1800’s wood fed fireplace stove thing in the middle of the sitting room.  I’m not describing it appropriately, but its a steel belly which is in the middle of the room which is fed by wood to heat the room — nix that, it was not working.  Smoke blew everywhere they tried to put wood in so we played the game — ate in the freezing cold room.

While on the topic of cold; try taking a shower when the room temperature is in the 10’s or 20’s F.  It’s the art of just-do-it.  Paula goes first and I hear her moaning and groaning and every sound as if she was delivering a baby.  I’m fucking frightened to do my time.  The day before I just skipped showering because it was that cold but two days is a bit messy and disgusting.  Let’s get things straight, as a hiker, Paula will kick my ass — and probably 95% of those out here, but showering, her tolerance is lets say, bottom 25%.  So after she finished bitching, the man (sorry for the gender speak for those super sensitive annoying people) got into the shower and honestly, it was not too bad — not great, but doable.  That said, I did not shave — fuck that — water on your face and exposed outside the heated shower — not worth it.  I’m so debating on keeping a beard to save on wash time in the future days — don’t know, we’ll see.  Grooming will only get worse.  At least we got a heated blanket.  Moving forward, it’s our 0 degree Fahrenheit rated sleeping bags to keep warm.

Early this morning we had breakfast with Prickass and we went on a 3 hour walk up and down a pretty vertical hill which outlined the town.  The top of the hill was an old airport/heliport landing strip — but the idea is to keep moving during our days off and go up the extra 1,000 feet and down the same to get used to breathing the thinner air.  We stopped at a museum built in honor of Tenzing Norway, the Sherpa hero of the Nepal people who was partner of Edmond Hillary during his assent to Everest Summit.  The museum was old inside but interesting — super interesting on how they used to summit back then in the early years.

Anyway, while on our acclimatizing day, Paula and I walked the town because a local market was supposed to be going since it was Saturday — drats, it was over by the time we got there and the local actors were taking everything down or were gone.  We made the best of it and just wandered around and it took us about an hour to do all of the 4 or 5 levels carved into the mountain filled with shops.  We needed to eat some lunch and found a place that looked ok and there were some Norwegian looking young adults inside the super small, but very clean restaurant.  They were watching on a TV in the upper corner the movie, Into Thin Air, an epic book and made into a movie about an Everest expedition that went very wrong and too many people died. I’ve read half the book before and coincidentally downloaded it for this trip.  Paula and I missed the first hour of the movie but we sat down and watched the rest with our new room mates.  We did order a pizza made with local Yak Cheese and it was delicious — only issue is that because of the thin air we were in and possibly a bad oven, it took about an hour to get our pizza ready and we were both starving and suffering from altitude sickness.  We ended up finishing the movie, got up and left for our Lodge, if you can call it that — I call it a building with dark hallways with ugly wood paneling, basic infrastructure and yes, no heat.  But they did have some weak wifi which was sort of helpful although not enough to send blog posts — so fuck it, good for basic necessities but I did not use it since it kept going in and out.  I tried to send a small image to myself via email — just 4mb and it never went through — same as the day before, so whatever.  From here on in, stable Internet was a prize.

The rest of the day was really a bore but we did repack again for the hundredth time.  It so difficult to fit everything you need into our limited bags and to be honest, we’re wearing the same clothes two or more days at a time.  I ended up putting more shit into the bag which is carried by our boys so I could carry less on my own back.

This next morning we met up for breakfast to go on our very short trek to our next destination.  We’re told because it was to acclimatize, but I think that is bullshit — not exactly sure why we only had a 3 hour hike which was up and down, mostly flat but beautiful, ending up at the same altitude as yesterday.  The drop down was eye popping.  The path was mostly 6 or 7 feet wide so no issues, but when you look down to the bottom of the valley, you’re talking three or more thousand feet — straight down.  Paula is not so happy about this short day — she wants to buzz ahead for the next 2.5 hours which is basically vertical and I really don’t blame her since today is too short a hike.  I’m shitting my pants thinking about the vertical hike tomorrow – but no issues its part of the deal.  If you accent too fast, you will get sick, so I am happy to do it right and not pay the price of misery later on.   I’m good to settle in today of which were surrounded by a bowl of snow capped Himalayan mountains — all fucking high.  Only issue at this time now is that clouds have settled in so no chance for shooting pictures — I suspect that I’ll have more than ample time for that.

We did meet a Czech guy during a stop for a tea break and he was amazing to spend a few minutes with.  I asked him where he was from, he told me that he was Czech.  I of course asked if he was a hockey player — that’s my way to break the ice.  He said no, a mountain biker and works for a Czech company that does business with India in the chemical business and he knew that he could get 8 day break to travel before having to go back to Mumbai, India and then home.  He was also a trekker and built like a solid tall and strong truck — I’m thinking a Kenworth or better still a MAC truck, but I do know the dude would take me down with just a fake of a punch.  Anyway, we chatted and he said that he was a guide for a few months in Colorado and loved the rockies and had done extensive trekking in Europe.  His childhood dream was to see Everest so he bolted to Nepal from his business in India and decided to go as far as he could go in order to make it back to India.  He ended up a town ahead of us because he does not need to acclimatize and saw Everest was there.  This giant dude said that he actually shed a tear when he saw the peak.  But he had to turn around well short of base camp.  Very nice guy.  He will be back again next time to get to camp.

We’re now at our final destination for the day, in Tasjomga.  Same deal, no heat, no lights, dark hallways, wood plank floors, only power outlet is in the dining room so I will plug in my charger and gear there — but that is only good after 6pm so it will be a fight to get access against the others guests — I plan on winning, other luxuries include hot water after 2pm because electricity comes from solar panels.  This is a luxury tea house.

A final parting thought was my dump in the freezing dirty toilet.  It actually takes courage to drop the drawers and sit on the can to take a nice relaxing dump.  Finally I got the needed exuberance to make it happen. It happened and nothing more to report — it wasn’t pleasant.  Tomorrow we move one step forward.

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