After 7 days of consistent 6-8 hour trekking days, we had our first "rest" day yesterday. What does a rest day entail? To start, a 3-hour walk straight up the side of a mountain to acclimatize from 4400 meters to 4900 meters. That's our "rest." Thankfully, the afternoon was completely free and this group couldn't remember the last time we had this big a chunk of time to read. The books were finished, passed, and read again around a roaring dung fire. Actually, the poop fire wasn't so roaring and required near constant attention as we foreigners were attempting to micromanage the dung process with Sherpas who have literally been doing this for hundreds of years. Alas, our afternoon could be adequately described as lukewarm, though we weren't complaining with actual FREE time on offer.
We awoke today and greeted a temperature of -2 degrees in our rooms. Once again, it was the early-morning shuffle as we packed our bags, geared up, and ate yet another serving of yellow carbohydrates. A word on food. We are over the high-altitude base-camp diet. As I write, Jazz is attempting to stuff down NINE boiled potatoes. Yes, NINE. This is her entire dinner. Our whole menu of eating options consists entirely of cooking the same flour into a seemingly infinite numb of different forms. Pancakes, Tibetan bread, Nepali bread, etc. While we still have five more days of trekking, after reaching base camp tomorrow our menu will open up slightly. My goodness that was a boring paragraph but hey, that's literally the biggest issue on our minds. That and trekking uphill for hours on end.
Once bundled up, we hit the road just as snow flurries began to fall from the ominous clouds above. Our morning walk was a little up, a little down, and a whole lot of undulating. This is the developing world's catch-all term for "whatever the heck lies ahead." Using it means they are never inaccurate in describing our walk. We arrived at lunch just as the snow began to stick, diving inside for a delicious meal of yellow food accompanied by yellow tea (lemon and ginger).
By the time we left lunch there were 5 centimeters of snow on the ground and the intensity was increasing. We dove in head first, knowing full well that this was all part of the challenge! The first hour was directly uphill as we scaled the side of a mountain, rising to 4953 meters before trailing straight ahead. At this stage, the snowfall was in full swing and we were trudging through 15 centimeters. Our trail made its way into the root of a valley. I swiped the snow aside to discover we were actually trekking on the fringes of a frozen river! What a surreal feeling it was to be nearly 5000 meters high with peaks towering even higher above in every direction, trudging through snow on top of a river that had turned to solid ice!
We arrived tired but energized. From here it is only six hours of trekking until we reach Everest Base Camp! It's early to bed tonight and early to rises tomorrow but not after devouring what the Sherpas call a "Mars Roll." What, exactly, is a Mars Roll? Well, it's a king size Mars bar wrapped in pastry and deep fried until it forms a delicious caramel chocolate croissant. Good for you? No. Absolutely delicious? Yes!
The team are feeling strong, determined, and absolutely driven. Some are on their way in memory of or in support of someone who has faced cancer. Others are here to prove naysayers wrong. Regardless, we're going to get to Base Camp as a solid team: The Inspired Adventures Cure Cancer Team Everest. Ain't no stoppin' us now!