2nd April 2017, Trek to Gorekshep

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Getting closer to our goal! One more night on the road in Gorak Shep, the last village before Base Camp.  I heard   Gorak Shep was the original Base camp for the early  Everest Summit attempts. We spent the night in Lobuche another small village along the  Khumbu River Valley. The river is formed as run off from the massive Khumbu Glacier.  Our days beginsas all other days begin here.  After a restless sleepfor many of us we are awakened by the hot tea team at 6:15 am. ( I' ve been unsuccessfully  trying  to change this to a more civilized time 8 am)   We each receive freshly  brewed  tea followed by the arrival at 6 30 am of our warm morning bath conveniently delivered to our room in a round plastic basin by the staff.  Bathing is a stretch, but water is a precious commodity here. Once refreshed we all meet at 7 am in the dining areas/main lobby of the tea house.  Lower down these lodges have a Bavarian type interior design; polished hardwood walls, homey decorations reflecting the owner's taste in Nepalese art. Up here where I am realizing  humans like me  should never ever go, the main dining areas are contemporary plywood. Functional but not aesthetically  pleasing to my eye.  No toilets up here, just a bowl.  A large 50 gallon drum of water sits next to the bowl. You dip a bucket into the freezing water and pour it into the bowl until all evidence of your visit disappears!  Or you can use the porcelein footprint route.  But I digress. We left Lobuche this morning around 8: 15 and trekked  across  the valley heading up and up across snowy tundra. The snow dramaticlly changes the landscape. Looking up the valley a large heard  of yaks approach through the snow neck bells clanging their approach. Behind them strung up along the valley are trekkers, Sherpas,   passing each other along narrow footpaths.. The mountains are all around us. Picture postcard perfect mpuntains. Amazing. Unless you're struggling for air like me.I walk 50 feet then stop to breathe. Actually gasp for air. They ve assigned a very patient sherpa to accompany me in case something happens. I think he's there to mark the spot of my last breathe and move my body off the trail. The group visited a very unique weather station on the way. It  was developed and currently maintained by an Italian research scientist who receives no support from the Italian Government. It's know as the Pyramid. He's constructed a structure from solar panels in a large pyramid form. Imagine trekking through the Himalayas and coming across this futuristic research building  surrounded by massive snow covered. The team monitors atmospheric pollution global warming etc. He's been running this research station for over 15years! Back on the trail the melting snow makes scrambling over rocks for some of us-ok me- challenging. Up ahead lie switchbacks and switchbacks and did I mention the switchbacks?  We are climbing with every step. Over one rocky hill down the opposite side then back up. And this is at 14 000 feet.No more trees at this level. Just rock and snow.  And dogs. I've seen more   random dogs n this trek! Rounding one bend here's a shaggy sherpa dog just sitting off to the side. No owner or shepherd in sight. He looks me over, I say hello buddy, his tail wags once and  he's checking out the next guy behind me. Some yak herders use dogs to maintain yak order on the trail. Sara Beth my hiking partner today and I had a very very close encounter with a small heard today. Usually there's a small spot in the trail to get out of their way. Today we were truly concerned. These animals are  massive, their horns so sharp and with one swipe of their heads, you're gone. One of these yaks were so close the supplies on their back grazed me.  Yikes! Ok for all of the family friends back home do not ask us if we ate yak burgers. It's illegal to kill yaks in Nepal> I did not know that until I tried to order a yak burger. They use buffalo meat from the lowlands and call it yak meat. Its the old chicken finger trick. They call it chicken but who knows what it really is.  My guides felt I shold pass . Did you know yaks dont produce milk.. Naks do. Yaks are males naks are females. I hope the guides arenot  pulling my leg .Some of the team encountered a young woman today who was in critical condition. She was disoriented, unable to catch her breath and was producing bloody  sputum.  Dr. Freer (LuLu) advised her she was in danger of dying. She refused and was determined to make here today!  Imagine being seen by one of the world's leading experts on high altitude medicine and  telling her, no problem I'll just walk it off! Thanks for the advice. To be fair, the woman was so delierious she had not idea she was dying.  They sent a horse for her and was eventually choppered out of here. We hear and see choppers all day flying up and down the valley. Some of the group are reassured by the whooshing of the blades. It lets us know that it could be possible to be choppered out to safety if something happens.   A few of our group completed and extra climb today after we arirved. T hey summited Kala Pater 18000feet! Truly amazing group of trekkers. Well BIG DAY tomorrow. We reach Base Camp.2 nights in tents. Hope my Wallmart sleeping bag hold up. 

Bill Somers