I awoke again a couple of hours before dawn, this time because my legs and feet were freezing. I am beginning to get suspicious of my so-called "North Face" sleeping bag. How was I able to get it for so cheap? On closer inspection of the sleeping bag label, I noticed that it was made with "foft" down and that it was "Gore Dry." A -15C sleeping bag should be able to keep me nice and warm at temperatures above freezing and this "North Fake" bag was already letting me down. I put on some extra layers and curled up tight for my pre-dawn Alan Watts lecture on the iPod. I ate a delicious veggie omelet for breakfast and packed up my duffel bag for the porter to carry. Our porter is named Narang and he is only about 19 years old. He ropes my duffel bag to my brother's and then straps the entire 70 pound load to his head. He doesn't speak any English but he always has a big smile on his face. His load is actually pretty light compared to most of Sherpas we see walking uphill with 150 lbs + strapped to their foreheads. I showed Narang how my duffel bag has straps that come out so that you can wear it on your shoulders like a backpack. He got the straps out and tied everything to his head anyway. I guess they just prefer it that way.
Narang with Pumari Peak in the background.
We hiked up out of Namche and then began our six hour walk which took us steeply up and down again and again. Just when I thought we had gained maximum elevation for the day we descended steeply all the way down to the river bank where we had lunch. Everyone in our crew ordered hot lemon tea but I was feeling a bit groggy and had a bit of a headache, so I ordered milky coffee. This proved to be a very bad decision with disastrous consequences. I will spare you the details of my next misadventure but let's just say that I will never order a milky coffee with lunch again. Ever. It was all uphill from there with storm clouds rolling in and pretty soon we were hiking in a snow storm. Temperatures dropped and we had to keep moving to stay warm. My mild headache was getting worse with every foot of elevation we gained. After hours of ascending through the snow, we came to the famous Tengboche monastery at about 1:30pm. At this point we could have waited around until 3pm to witness the monks chanting but the group, wet and cold, unanimously decided to keep pushing through to Deboche so that we could take shelter from the snow in the lodge. We arrived at the lodge in Deboche-elevation 12,500ft- and I went straight up to the room so that I could change into dry clothes and get into my sleeping bag to warm up. I fought off the urge to take a nap because I didn't want to have another bad night of sleep. It snowed for the rest of the evening and we huddled around the wood stove in the middle of the dining room to keep warm. After dinner, I went up into our tiny, freezing room to read about Bear Grylls' summit attempt on Everest. I was asleep by 8pm.
We hiked all the way down to the river and back up the other side of the canyon.
Nick Hughes is a massage therapist, yoga instructor and co-owner of Well Being.