After a full day of doing nothing in Shomare, we were up early and thankfully, I was feeling much, much better. I felt like my old self again, ready for the day’s walk. The plan for the day was to make it to Periche, the next nearest village. If that works out okay, we would head on to the next one, Thukla. Ang Dawa was dangling the idea of reaching Lobuche to us which was after Thukla, half in jest and half seriously, I think. If we could reach that far, it meant we would be back on track and on schedule. However, after the past few days, Allan and I had said that we would go as far as we can go. If that meant not reaching EBC, then we would be okay. As long as we were both doing well and enjoying the trek, we would be happy.
So after breakfast, we set off for Periche. We were having a good trek that morning, I even managed to take some photos. In 2 or 3 hours, we reached Periche where we had an early lunch at the Himalayan Lodge. After having stayed in a much smaller, simpler lodge in Shomare, the Himalayan Lodge felt almost alien and out of place. It was, we felt, too big and too fancy. Granted, if it were in a bigger city, it wouldn’t be. But up there in the mountains, it felt like a big hotel chain masquerading as a lodge. It was spacious and clean as expected from such a place, but somehow, it felt like it was lacking “heart”. Anyway, we were just there for lunch so no big deal. Except that the food was a bit mediocre — according to Allan. I think all I had was a sandwich, so I had no complaints there.
At noon, we were back on the trail. Having reached our initial goal, we were now aiming for Thukla which Ang Dawa estimates to be 2 hours away. In my head I had it at 3 hours. I know Ang Dawa gives us this estimates while taking into consideration how slow we were…but I think he also excludes how many breaks we take.
Our trek took us through a different landscape this time. Gone were the green trees, river and occasional waterfall. By this time we had broken past the 4000 masl barrier, so naturally things were bound to change. What used to be trees are now low shrubs and what used to be distant snow-capped mountains were not so distant anymore. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before.
Unfortunately for us, the altitude gain and change in landscape also meant a change in climate. There was quite a wind while we walked that afternoon, which meant we had to bundle up. Eventually the wind got to us, particularly to Allan who also was still struggling with a cold, and it sapped our strength. As with previous treks, the combination of fatigue and not having a visual of Thukla brought back a bit of the frustration. We like knowing where we were and how far off we were, it seemed.
We did finally arrive at Thukla at around 4pm. By this time it had gotten colder and we were thankful to be able to go indoors. Unfortunately, our lodge’s yak dung-burning stove (yes, you read that right. its harder to find wood to burn at this altitude so they use alternatives) was somehow not sufficient. A lot of the guests and guides were seated close to the stove hoping for warmth. We settled for our layers and my blanket and we sat around the dining room with the rest of the trekkers who were there for the night. It was too cold to be in the room so we browsed through our Everest book and tried to guess where each group was from. It was amusing trying to see if we could recognize the accents, and we often talked about where we think a group was from. It would have been nice to chat with them, and I’m sure they would be friendly, but with bigger groups, they tend to keep to their circles.
Come dinner time, Allan and I had our now-usual Dal Bhaat for dinner. I ordered it mainly because it was better than trying to decide what to get, while Allan orders it all the time since they always offer refills. It was good to have my appetite back, not wanting to eat was such an unfamiliar sensation.
It was another cold evening and we burrowed into our sleeping bags again to keep warm. Our sleeping bags were rated for -15C so we were kept warm, but somehow I didn’t sleep very well that night. Looking back, it may have had something to do with what was just outside the lodge — a very significant uphill. This would be the first leg of our journey the following day and I have seen porters and trekkers from earlier make their up until they were tiny specks in the distance. At 4500 masl, that uphill would be a real challenge.