Bowery Mural

The best of times, the worst of times

Friday, 29 May 2009

I'd laid awake most of the night going over and over in my head of what lay ahead. At the same time i was continuously coughing and trying not to wake Emma up. I hid under my sleeping bag hood and just cried and cried and then made the decision that I wasn't going to go to Gorak Shep (or Base Camp). I was heartbroken - simple. But strangely I felt a real calm come across me and then i dozed off to sleep. I think I got 3 hours sleep and as soon as I heard the porters up and about the camp I dragged myself out of the sleeping bag, grabbed my toilet roll and boots and headed out of the tent.

It was a wonderful clear morning except for the stiff breeze blowing. Blue sky above, giant mountains almost 360 degrees around and the gentle chiming of yak bells in the distance - what a way to wake up! I headed for the loo (which by the way I was now an expert at the drop squat toilet manoeuvre!). Daljit was just getting up and we had a wee chat. I told her i wasn't going to attempt it and she gave me a big hug which i needed. That set me off again. She said if it felt like the right thing to do then it was. She's quite a wise woman. Very spiritual. Slowly people were appearing from their tents. The next was Peter. I broke the news to him and again he provided a much needed hug and told me i was brave to make that decision.

We headed into the lodge for a wash and a seat out of the wind that had gotten up. I tried to have a wash with a few wipes, had a cup of tea and decided to break the news to the rest of the group. I tried to be strong but I'm a blubbering wreck once i get going. They were all really great and some tried to persuade me to go but i felt rotten. Breakfast was a strange affair. Nothing wanted to go down but I knew I would need it for the tough day ahead. I think I ate a piece of toast and some egg, then of course another cup of tea.

We got our stuff together and set off up the ridge that we'd climbed the previous day. I kept thinking that this was as far as I'd go and the dream was ending any time now. Damn this stupid cough!!! The climb up and up seemed to go on for ever when in reality it was only about 105m up. We stopped at 2 monuments and the view was totally amazing. We could see up the valley, down the valley, over to Island Peak and Makalu, the only thing missing was a view of Everest. I think I was pretty quiet by now. If anyone spoke to me i think i just nodded. A few snapshots were taken and then it was time... Time for Team X-treme to head off on an epic 2 day journey. One by one they said their goodbyes to the group and I was last. Big hugs all around and then the were off. Luckily I had my sunglasses on but i don't think that could hide my tears and my utter disappointment that they were leaving and I wasn't. We watched them go off into the distance until they were like little ants. So I was now with Carol, Daljit, Peter, the Doc and Mingma. We would head down to Upper Pangboche today, it was to be a long road.

We set off a few minutes later and I was still sniffing and coughing and trying to wipe he snot from my nose. 'It'll be ok' were Mingma's words - very kind. The wind was up now but the sun was out and it was actually a very lovely day in the upper Khumbu valley. We headed to Pherice and what a place. The view above Pherice was fab. It's situated on what looks like a dry riverbed again with stunning mountains all around. The back of Ama Dablam can be seen. It the home of the Himalayan Rescue Association and a very nice lodge that we had a good break in. In fact, this was the location of the only 10 out of 10 loo we found on the trail. After a very long tea break we headed down to Upper Pangboche where we were greated at the amazing Gumba Lodge with hot lemon, chips and french toast for lunch and a very warm and cosy lodge to sleep in a night.

It was very welcome luxury to sleep in the lodge since this was the night when my fever came to a head. I laid down on the benches an listened to the conversations about the nexts days activities. Peter was heading to Ama Dablam base camp with the Doc, I was too sick so couldn't even go there!, Carol would come wiht me and Daljit was switching between Peter and Carol and I. This went on for a while and she eventually decided to go with Peter. Mingma would get up early and set off at 5.30am with her.

And so it was time for bed (it was way past 8pm after all!). I settled into my cosy sleeping bag on the benches and Mingma and a couple of others settled down too. My ribs were now killing me from the constant cough that followed each breath. Why won't it stop?! And... then it started.... it was a faint rumble at first and got louder. Someone was snoring!!!!! It was so funny. Mingma shouted across that his bench bed was shaking and I was killing myself laughing. So funny. 'It's nice to see you with a smile on your face again's said Mingma. What a nice guy! And with that i fell asleep...

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