Dispatches from the Himalayas!
Today the Mera Peak team arrived in the village of Kote. Wet, but happy to find refuge in the new teahouses here. On Day 1 we had great views of the peaks towering above the village of Lukla. Since then, we’ve been getting a good Northwest-like soaking, with no views, muddy trails and temperatures in the 40s.
Yesterday, the 15th, Nepali time, we trekked over 15,000+ foot paths and descended to some teahouses where we gathered our wits after six hours of hiking in the rain. Lapkha Sherpa, the comedian of the group, provided jokes for 17 drenched porters as they huddled around the fire, trying to forget the day. The porters are as amazing as ever, taking the heavy loads, mud, and hard work all in stride. Today as the rocky trail plunged down to the river at the bottom of Hinku Valley, through stands of bamboo, pine and thirty-foot rhododendrons, these porters would glide by us on the slippery rocks like it was just another day at work. But they, like us, were anxious to get to Kote and get out of the rain.
For dinner tonight, we had vegetable rolls with a cauliflower white sauce. We had hamburger patties with a bit of shredded radish and cabbage as well as fresh greens. Our cook is awesome!
Tomorrow we move up higher into the valley. We’re hoping the weather gets better. Everybody says hi to family and friends!
On the approach, we started late today — it seems Jeff, Mark and Doug stayed up late playing cards with some porters and lost their shorts. But, the day has great promise as we walk up the Hinku Valley. The swirling mist slowly pulling back to reveal some blue sky, an incredible relief here from valley floor to the peaks. Walking up the river bed, its boulders covered with a luxuriant layer of moss, we eventually left the temperate forest and entered the alpine zone where, during the summer months, the yaks are brought up to graze on the grasses found here in the Makalu-Barun National Park.
A blue sky eventually gave way to the usual mist and rain. The only hint that we were surrounded by towering peaks was the occasional avalanche that broke loose from the new snow. On our way to settlement of Tangnag, we visited a small monastery built beneath a massive overhanging boulder. After a blessing from the Lama, it wasn’t long before he and Lapkha were cracking up. It seems even the revered holy man isn’t immune to Lapkha’s infectious humor. With the ensuing downpour, we dove into the warmth of a teahouse for the night at Tangnag. Today we wake to clear skies and a welcome rest day for Michael and I, to fight a cold, while the rest go for an acclimatization hike.
In two days, we arrive in base camp, and will set up a high camp at over 19,000 feet before hopefully summiting Mera on October 22, Nepali time.
A message to our families:
Doug says, “I’m thinking about you, and don’t piss off mom.”
Jeff says, “Little guy says hi from the Himalayas.”
Mark S. says, “Miss you, Alison and Andrew, finish your homework.”
~ MM President Mark Gunlogson