After the Cho La we had an easy hike day from Thagnak to Gokyo, this was appreciated as my body was finally starting to feel tired. After Gokyo we would be going up and over the Renjo La ("la" means pass), so I wanted to make sure I didn't push myself in Gokyo. We passed over the glacier that day, which wasn't so much ice as many imagine but rock, sand, gravel. It had the look of the moon: barren, dead land. This contrasted beautifully with the turquoise pools of water that were randomly dispersed. Despite the look of the glacier it is still "alive" and well with ice underneath. Each year when ice melts it causes major rock falls which then requires a new trail to be carved, just another reminder of the devotion and hard work of the people of this area.
Once we reached Gokyo we went on a short but the vast majority of the day was spent resting and rebuilding strength for the long day following. Gokyo is a beautiful town at the base of a magnificent lake with the same insanely-turquoise color that the Caribbean only dreams of. Surrounded by some amazing views that I knew would only get better as the next day we would climb to 5,340m. I was already promised that the best views on the entire trip would be on the Renjo La and I was quite excited. I was even more excited that the steepest part was on the ascent this time, the descent was only moderate (phew!).
There was something very solemn about all of this though, it would be our last great trek before we began the slow decline to end our trip. We were at day 14 of 19 and it would take us four days to get back to Namche and Lukla to leave. To spend 14 days slowly ascending up the valley and over the passes, then drop down so quickly seemed cruel, working up and up with great excitement for all the achievements then so quickly it would all be over. It quite literally felt like a manic crash from an amazing high. This is it, this will be the last time we go up. Though the trip was far from over a part of my heart was sad for I knew the end was near.
We started early this am, at 6, knowing it would take about 3 hours to climb the pass and you want to make sure you climb when the snow/ice is harder and still solid under your feet. From the top of the pass we would make out way down to the first village of Lungden, if we had time and energy we would go to Thame which was another several hours beyond. Most people stop at Lungden but Deven was confident in our speed and ambitions.
It was rough going up but it was absolutely beautiful and as previously mentioned, I'll take a difficult ascent to any descent. The views were, as promised, the best I've seen yet. Everest was clear as day, as well as all the other amazing mountains. As I write this and recall what I see I get flutters throughout my whole body, mixed with slight sadness that I am not there right now. It's amazing how after any challenging experience you only remember the joys, not the pain.
It was an interesting sensation when we began our descent because it dawned on me that this was it, tomorrow we would go to Namche and then from there we would follow our footprints back to Lukla. Not only was this our last night sleeping over 4,000m and the last day hiking over 5,000m, but in general it was our last big day. We spent so much time gaining altitude, going deeper and deeper into the mountains, working harder and harder, then we would quite suddenly drop down to Namche. Last night we were in Gokyo at 4,790m, now we were on top of the pass at 5,340m and were about to drop down to 4,380m tonight and get to 3,820m tomorrow, that's quite drastic!
Part of it felt like bittersweet victory, I had done it, yet doing it also meant that it was over. The first part of the way down the pass we were all very playful and joyful, practically skipping and running down. Then we came into the new valley, beautiful and much quieter than the Khumbu valley. I felt something switch in me- I realized the shear beauty of everything and the world, the energies, life in general and I was in total awe. The next few hours as we moved down the valley, back to the river, through the yak pastures and villages I moved in a very unhurried way, neither fast more slow, and spoke seldom in an effort to take it all in. In knowing that the end was near every step suddenly became precious. From time to time when I hike I have a day where I feel like I could walk forever (my Forrest Gump moment), it is like a high but similarly it is so meditative. That is where I was and as tired as I was, part of me wished I could walk forever and continue to absorb all the glory surrounding me. I often have this experience at the end of a trip, a desperate desire to take in all that is around me, knowing it will all be gone soon. It's a similar sensation to Christmas morning, the of excitement and sadness because after weeks of preparing for this amazing day, once it arrives you know that it will be gone soon.
So I moved slowly, deep in thought, each step with intent and gratitude. Once we reached the tea house I was entirely exhausted as we had done in 8 hours what most groups do over 2 days. Despite the exhaustion, what I felt within me was comparable to nothing I had ever felt before. The joy, gratitude, power and love was otherworldly.
Chelsea M Latham
When I was a kid my mom would occasionally refer to me as a Reverend, because I had the need to speak so passionately about just about everything. Little did she know that some day I would build a business upon sharing the wisdom that I am so passionate about. So here you go, here are some bits and bobs of thoughts strung together for your enjoyment.