5th January 2019
A gentle sense of achievement flushes the veins, as in the bright air we start to descend: there will be scalding soup at Gokyo, and in gradually waning afternoon light, views will open up besides frozen brooks. Colder air, wisps of mist condensing, calm silence; only busy ducks will forage in the waters of a still unfrozen first Gokyo Lake, as the icy fluid sluices away underground, gravity-led, to the surging river below.
There’s a memory of Scottish winter afternoons, light fading at 4.00 pm, walking in the gloaming, cheeks glowing in cooling air, anticipating pleasure in the warmth that returns once inside. Now mist wells up in thickening waves and all perspective is lost as we negotiate a narrow staircase in the descent. Then the rays of the sun illuminate the peaks above the mist just before it drops below the mountain chain for the day.
In the lodge at Machhermo, the lady of the house has a baby that she fondles constantly, showing the importance of touch, and she uses sound and chants to captivate, soothe and reassure the swaddled entity.
Another difficult night as it is still hard to sleep, and the ten hour period from 8.00 pm to 6.00 am is rather like being in a cell, and the sleeping bag can feel like a straight-jacket. In the morning it is impressive to see the yaks who live outside in the cold of night stirring gently in the morning air, breathing.
A beautiful walk down, with a glorious perspective, and the knowledge that we came up this way, so patiently.
Once again in the forest: rhododendron, pine, juniper, birch.
Pheriche is a working village perched on flatter land whose edges are eroding. We arrive after a steep climb up from the river, to thickening clouds and the chance of snow the next day. Potatoes are huddled under earth mounds awaiting the spring planting. Nothing is open, but finally we find Thamserku View that will take us. You realise that if you are going to build a house here, you might as well build extra accommodation for trekkers. Now we are the only guests, grateful again for the stove.