Wednesday, November 16, 2011

3,200 meters: Poonhill Day 5

Donkeys were plopping down the mountainside all night, the bells on their necks clanging and ringing. I would have been grumpy if it wasn’t so damn magical.

I woke up at 4:30 in the morning and threw on every knit wear, pair of underwear and scarf I owned. My arms stuck out from my fleece-engorged body like some North Face obsessive homeless person. And in one hour hiked from 2,860 meters to 3,210 meters at 5 am in the frosty morning. It was a cruel climb, one that bit at your lungs and hung there. Not to mention I was sleep deprived and a bit altitude sick. Rosalyn and I fell to the back of the pack stopping and feeling nauseous. The only thing keeping us going was the time pressure of getting up the mountain to see the sunrise.

The question that kept running in my head was “Should I stop to look at the view on the way up and possibly miss the grand finale or should I keep my head down keeping on keeping on and catch the brilliant sunrise but miss all the beauty on the way up?”

Luckily my legs were fast enough and eyes slow enough to catch both and Rosalyn and I summated Poon Hill at 3,210 meters just in time to see the sunrise. The three of us pressed together and watched the sun creep in on the snow capped mountains. I felt like Heidi. We drank tea and breathed and stayed up there for 2 hours just drinking and breathing. I don’t believe in a God. But those mountains made me worship.

We wound slowly down to the mountain’s base, ate breakfast and prepared for our day’s trek. We went mainly through jungles where the threat

of seeing a leopard was the most exotic and sexy thing I could think about. “Could one beeee in there?” I would say pointing to each and every cave. I was more annoying than Dora the Explorer. I never did see a leopard. Guess that means I’ll have to go back to Nepal. Shucks.

I think if my eyes’ rods and cones could capture and store images, and then we could sell those eyes, my eyes would be invaluable for all the looking and seeing I do in such beautiful places.

The journey got longer when we discovered the jump shot. Directions: Stand in front of large canyon or mountain and jump into the air while someone is taking your picture. The more arm/leg flailing the better. I’m sure Paul loved our group.

We turned a corner and there was a ginormous bull. GINORMOUS. With horns, deep scowl and deadly eyes. We screamed and jumped into a bush (probably where there were things more dangerous to worry about) and I shakily took a photo.

We ended the day at Tadapani 2,630 meters. It was my last day with the group, tomorrow I’d be trekking alone. The girls and I cracked open a bottle of Jack Daniels I had gotten at duty free and each took a nip in declaration of our time together. (We didn’t want to overdo it because apparently drinking at a high altitude is a terrible idea.)

The girls on this trek were amazing and we vowed to meet in another lifetime/our next adventure.



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