After breakfast which came in the form of veg fried rice for substance and price over quality, we departed Dingboche for Chukkung not far from here where we planned to leave our bags for the night and make a day hike up to Chukkung Ri which promised views of some 8000 plus meter summits given good weather of course
Nirvana in Nepal Day 281: Cloudy with a Chance for More Clouds
In this early morning we finally witnessed the ice scraped mountains that eluded yesterday. Most mornings offer you this but then you get snatched of this like a sweet tooth child and his lollipop
We went for Chukkung with me keeping good pace with Anton and Ori and then as we closed in on the village the skies at long last opened up. I had no idea how long this moment would last but I tried to enjoy it for what it was
The first mountain to my right was of no great renown, nothing special; a Himalaya mountain dusted properly with snow and clenched by ice but more greater peaks were promised to me by this region. I stopped, letting both Anton and Ori further distance the two of themselves from me as I stared up at this mountain blankly but happy as ever. Hopefully this would be a sign of more to come
My knee was killing me, slowing my pace
As I close in on Chukkung some further mountains beyond this village showed themselves giving me hope that the weather would hold up for our climb up Chukkung Ri
We walked through the village and no one stood in sight and barely a sound beyond the whisp of the wind passing through between the buildings
As I further made my impression in the village I began to hear some banging which to me could have either been men working on a lodge/guesthouse hammering away at the wood or Anton as the lead desperately banging on a random door out of hopes for any guesthouse to be open. A deserted village would have greatly compromised our plans
After getting directed by one of the men working on the construction of a new lodge, we found the only place in town open in this preseason of trekking.
For a lodge in the Himalayas the place looked immaculate. Unfortunately it was going to cost us. The rooms would be 200 each even though asked for it to be free since we would be eating all of our meals here (touché to him since he had the only working kitchen in town) and daal bhat had already risen to 600, the highest benchmark for what Maciek said I should expect on the trail but then again I was veering off from where we had trekked.
We met a couple of Israelis of course who were going to attempt Island Peak tomorrow. The two of them were a good chat with entertaining energy
After stocking up on a snack of peanut butter and granola bars which I have all but killed, we said goodbye to the two other Israelis and began heading off for Chukkung Ri. <<I love peanut butter far too much but more so when I am constantly trekking whenever I get a break to rest (because my hunger is abated while I continue moving) I am always hungry with the way I quickly churn through calories>>
As we were leaving the lodge a thick monster of a cloud swept in covering all the peaks I had once been looking at and bringing down my hopes for what I might see from above
The mountains have their own climate and ecosystem and one that no one can predict with too much accuracy
Most of the day the mountains have an unmistakable gravitational pull on the clouds as if the altitude climes up their are too cold and they need the puffy white blanket to keep them warm
The climb up to the plateau or valley that leveled off before rising again to the two sisters of Chukkung Ri was a challenge when compounded by my knee problems but I mostly kept pace with Ori and Anton
Anton continued on without breaking stride with a bloodlust for reaching the top of the climb despite no mountains whatsoever being in view but Ori and I decided that climbing so high giving so much of ourselves physically with no reward was fruitless and pointless. The two of us climbed to our right to a bump mounded up from the valley to get some view without sacrificing any further.
As Anton kept climbing his figure disappearing little by little as his presence dwarfed into the path that represented the same color as he, Ori and I looked at the large blooms of clouds that would swept in quickly and off to the left in the direction of what we later discovered was the Lhotse ridge/glacier but was soon replaced by the next wave that passed through. The clouds came in wave after wave unrelentingly without ceasing its presence. Only every once in awhile would the clouds offer a gap or window into what stood behind where we could peak in at the tease of the mountains. I came here for the mountains and so far I had been repeatedly denied but this was not my choice nor did I have any say in the matter. We saw peaks, their uppermost tips, bases of the mountains where the glacial snow streamed and spread out like the roots of a tree, and the center of one Lhotse range which was a large chunk of ice and glacier that showed its width only somewhat as the window scanned from right to left. Realizing the possibility of its immensity but knowing not its true dimensions drove me mad. My curiosity, my love for nature needed an answer of some form. I couldn’t leave and continue on not knowing.
Ori and I chatted and got to the core of what I happened. It seemed like he and Anton were on a race to complete the three passes trail loop and wouldn’t spare an extra day here in Chukkung. Luckily Ori felt as I did and wanted to leave early tomorrow morning and try to reach the peak in that almighty morning window when the clouds cleared and offered an open sky that highlighted the many ghost white summits characterized by their wrinkles wrought from many glaciers falling and opening up its hidden layers of black stone rock.
After relaxing there for quite some time watching the unending show of clouds repeatedly entering the realm while hiding behind a boulder as our wind shield that also acted as the base of one of two piers for the Tibetan prayer flags.
Pulled words out of an old British man and his Sherpa before beginning our descent
We crossed paths with a solo Israeli which just blows my mind
I am surrounded by Israelis that along with the fact many people think I am Israeli I feel like I am turning into one. One Nepalese cycle rickshaw driver in Thamel, a borough of Kathmandu, refused to believe I wasn’t Israeli after telling him I was American a few times
Back at the lodge I first hunted down some water from the river. Most of it looked unclean but I found an offshoot that stayed clear and enough to be worth drinking. It was an agonizing short walk to reach and when there I lazed around guzzling the water down. Once again back at the lodge I ate daal bhat with veg curry which is a mound of rice with a lentil soup and stir fried root veggies. The food is good in its own right but the kicker is that it is an all you can eat plate. Typically two servings is enough. When you have to pay such astronomical prices out here in the mountains a truly filling meal like this is the most savory and economical way to go.
Lazed around in my room reading before the tiredness from the past couple of days as well as today caught up to me and I began napping away.
Finished off the peanut butter in a sad display when I should be saving it as a snack when I most desperately need it. Oh vell
I awoke to relax in the dining room which is all what we have turned into a chill room but is rather the place to go to keep warm since in the evenings they turn on the central heater
I chatted with the solo Israeli named Paz before Ori and Anton joined us
It was determined that Ori and I would in fact be waking up once again at 6 am for breakfast before quickly rising to Chukkung Ri in the morning
I ate a cheese two egg omelette for 400 rupees which is roughly under four dollars (yeah, expensive even for America but when your body demands you have no choice)
The four of us chatted for a long while till 9 pm which was way past our bedtimes
For being the only American and non-Israeli I appreciated them being so willing to converse in English even if they weren’t necessarily talking to me so that I could always chime in
Read for a bit but sleep swept me away quickly