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Yak Attack!

April 30, 2009

I stayed in my room at Dingboche almost the entire day, content to lie in my sleeping bag and do absolutely nothing. Slowly I feel the strength return to my weary body. There has been talk of hiking to Pheriche today, which is just over the hill, so that I can meet up with the rest of the group, but by 5 PM Puri has not come to fetch me and I believe I will spend another night here. During my long afternoon of nothingness I plucked my eyebrows. It was the first time I had a close look at my face in a while & I was quite taken aback. My eyes were red and puffy, nose peeling & wind-burned, nostrils scabbed all around, lips a collage of purple peeling scales, and my hair was in a single piece. Yikes! I set out to brushing my hair, which was a big job indeed.

A little after 5 PM there was a knock on the door & I opened it to the smiling faces of Puri & our two teenage sherpa porters. "Zoom Zoom" they say, which is our signal to start moving. Aparrently we are going to Pheriche, even at this late hour. They hurriedly help me pack my things & we are off. Somewhere along the way Puri disappears and I am now in the hands of two teenage boys. Lord help me. Suddenly an adolescent yak charges toward us on the trail, bucking its horns and rearing its hind legs. I freeze in fear, but my sherpas laugh and yell obscenities in their language and kick their feet in the air. The yak is subdued & I think, "What better companions to have with you in the face of a yak attack than rambunctious teenage boys." And for the moment I feel safe. We climb the hill behind the village and our situation is suddenly reversed. Fog is closing in, darkness is fast approaching, the village is nowhere in sight, & we are obviously lost. Moreover, I fear a bout of diarrhea coming on, and this would probably be one of the worst situations you would want to find yourself in, in the company of teenage boys.

Puri arrives and the three of them argue and point. I imagine that they are saying "Where have you led us, dumbass?" "Dude, I'm trying to take her over the mountain the shortest way possible." "But now we've lost the trail, you idiot!" "So which way now?" "There!" [pointing] "No, there!" [more pointing]. Under other circumstances I might find this amusing, but at the moment I do not. Finally Puri takes my hand & we plow straight down the mountainside & up the other ridge. I sigh in relief as Pheriche comes into view & true to form, the boys deliver me to my waiting Australians, who look much worse for the wear. They recount the gruelling last two days of non-stop hiking & all agree that they wouldn't wish it on me. Unfortunately Marty, the only male Aussie in our group, is seriously ill with exhaustion, hypothermia, and possibly altitude sickness. Nat is on Diamox as well, and Kara is having bad knee problems. I am thankful for my two days of rest & reassured that I made the right decision to come down.

Everyone awakes refreshed, even Marty, who is back to his normal self, bouncing about & snapping photos. It was a long, hard hike today, though, from Pheriche to Namche Bazaar. It took us about 8 or 9 hours, with an hour rest for lunch. There were some long uphills and some long downhills & we all agreed that we didn't remember it being this hard on the way up. Maybe because it was broken into shorter segments. As we descend into a gorge, a huge brown eagle soars majestically below me and I am happy again. I also see a herd (pack?) of deer grazing on the slope above.

It is now Friday morning at Namche Bazaar and I unexpectedly found 20,000 rupees I had hidden in my pack that I didn't remeber I had! I will spend the morning shopping and this afternoon we have a half-day hike to Phakding, then tomorrow we head to Lukla. I'm almost outta here!

Tags: dingboche, himalayas, nepal, pheriche, travel, trekking

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