Day 3: Trek from Low Camp to High Camp
In the morning, after another breakfast of eggs, bread, and porridge. we set off on our journey, and surprise! Sesame tags along! You may remember him from Part 1 of our journey. He follows us along the trail for sometime before running off the trail and into the woods.
We hike for the better part of the day. In the late afternoon, we come to a clearing where we meet a flock of goats sunbathing on rocks.
As we climb higher, we come across some grazing yaks. I approach one and think about petting him. Now, I don’t know much about yaks, but I did pet cows often as a child. That gives me the confidence to approach him, & I decide to mix in some of my best dog/cat etiquette. I let the yak sniff my hand before I stroke him on the nose. When I take my hand away, the yak wants to sniff some more, so I oblige, and he starts to lick my hand.
Just when I’m thinking: wow, this yak loves me! I have a furry Himalayan friend who I’ll always remember–the yak lowers it’s head, as if to ram its horns into me and I get the fuck out of there.
We arrive at high camp. The photos below are the view we have from outside of our room in the teahouse.
I start to feel the effects of the altitude when I walk up a small hill on the way back from the bathroom and feel out of breath. At a store near the teahouse, Bart and I buy sweatshirts that say “I <3 Mardi Trek.”
We spend the evening huddled under comforters and keeping warm by the fire in the dining area. This camp is much colder than the previous two. We’re at 11,745 feet (3580 m) now!
During the night, I steal away to the space in front of the mountains, and look up at the stars, which are beautifully visible from way up here.
Day 4: High Camp to Mardi Himal Basecamp
Finally, it’s time for our push to the summit. In this case, our summit is Mardi Himal Basecamp. We eat breakfast at 6 AM and our on the trail by 6:30.
The first part of the hike is very, very steep. Another portion brings us to a knife-edge spine, looking down 10,000 feet on either side. I don’t feel scared, but maybe that’s because I’m starting to feel loopy from the altitude and the exhaustion.
At the summit, there is a beautiful shrine, and a striking marker adorned with Nepalese prayer flags. There is also a tea house there. According to our guide, the people who run the tea house live there year-round. They give us french fries, noodles, burritos, and mango juice. I manage to stomach the juice, but little else. The altitude seams to take away my appetite.
The trek back down is just as hard as the trek up, maybe even more so, since I’m so tired at that point. At 6:45 PM, we are back in bed.
Day 5: Trek from High Camp to Sidhing
The way up to Basecamp takes us 4 days, but we go almost the whole way down in 1. At 4:30, we arrive at the last teahouse. It has 4 rooms and a small, cozy dining room. The family that owns the teahouse has two little girls, ages 2 & 12, and a boy cousin is hanging out, he’s 11.
The 2-year-old girl runs around laughing and clapping, and the older kids, who study English in school, delight in writing down a list of English words and their corresponding Nepali word. We draw together.
From this teahouse, you can see the layers of green gardens terraced into the hillside. Along the way, I spot a donkey who is contently carrying propane tanks up the mountain.
Day 6: Jeep ride from Sidhing back to Pokhara
The next day, we pile into a jeep. 2 in the front by the driver, 4 in the backseat, 2 in the trunk, and 2 on the roof. We travel down the side of the mountain, picking up passengers along the way. The new passengers climb on top.
The views on the way down are beautiful, but this trip was terrifying. We drive on a narrow road on the side of steep drop-offs. The driver doesn’t speak much English, but at the most frightening parts of the road he remarks “no problem,” and takes several cell phone calls during the journey.
Near the bottom of the hill, we arrive at a beautfiul waterfall, and we all get the chance to jump in. I roll up my yoga pants and wade around. The water is chilly, but clean and beautiful.
And before climbing into a cab to head back to Pokhara, you’ll never guess who we bumped into 🙂