Day 5 (13th Nov).
Route: Chame – Lunch in Dhikur Pokhari – Lower Pisang
The steep hills seem never-ending today. At some point we have to wait for a big herd of donkeys and small horses to pass us before we can continue our uphill trek – Ganesh warns us not to come too close to them as they could accidentally (kick out and) injure us. I’m starting to feel really weak and I’m not sure if it’s because of my cold or whether the altitude is starting to have an effect on me.
At over 2500m the first onset of headaches could make their appearance. Ben and I decide to take Diamox from today onwards as our sleeping elevation will be greater than 300m and our doctor advised us to take Diamox preventatively as the risk of feeling first symptoms of High Altitude sickness could kick in tonight. We might struggle to sleep and feel nauseous or start having headaches.
Ganesh, our guide, explained yesterday that we would have to start drinking between 3-4 litres per day which is a real challenge for me as I have always been someone not to drink enough – if I manage to drink 1l per day, I had a good day. I’m glad that I need to push myself to drink more liquids and because I’m not feeling too healthy, I stick to this rule religiously.
I significantly increase my tea consumption and order between 2-3 medium pots of tea (which up to this point have been really big and equate to roughly 1.5 -2l of fluids per thermos pot) per day. Ben & I each carry 2 l and make sure we drink between 3-4 bottles each in the course of a day. After a few days I settle into a routine of drinking loads of fluids and Diamox’s diuretic side-effect seems to stay away or remain unnoticed as it would only be natural to go to the toilet that often with the amount of liquids we have been drinking.
The only annoying part about it is having to get up 1-2 times per night to go to the toilet – at this altitude and at this time of the year, a rather unwelcome task. The wood or stone cabins we stay in are not insulated at all and the toilets are generally outside. Ganesh does remind us “not to feel shy about drinking and going for many toilet breaks” as it does guarantee that we remain healthy at higher elevations.
While we are waiting for lunch, I exclude myself from the group and find a sunny spot on a bench to have a power nap. Most of us have been in shorts today, but it already feels noticeably cooler up here. The sun is really hot and after 10min I feel I’m boiling in my black fleece. Ganesh warns me that tomorrow, in Manang, will be the last chance to take naps in the afternoon. In higher altitudes would not be advised as it could increase symptoms of AMS.
Raphaelle, Ed & Holly each have a Daal Bhaat for lunch and eat with their hands after Ganesh shows them how to do it. Holly masters the art of eating by hand like a local – she has picked up on how to do it during her time in India. Ed & Raphaelle are doing very well themselves. Raphaelle mentions that during her week with the Nepali family (she stayed with before going on the trek) she was obliged to eat with her right hand, even though she is left-handed, as the left hand is reserved for dirty deeds only – such as taking off your shoes or clean up after a toilet break. Ben and I, a bit bored with Daal Bhaat, choose a Potato & Veg meal which is disappointing. The same meal which Ben had eaten a few days ago in another village tasted so much better.
We arrive in Lower Pisang and after another ‘hot-cold’ solar shower (lukewarm), Ben & I wash some clothes outside in washing area. The water is ice cold and we can barely feel our hands. The group is off to another monastery, whereas I stay behind as I feel exhausted and want to make the most of being able to rest. I order a medium pot of mint tea and retreat to my room for a nap. I need to cover my face with the sleeping bag as it is uncomfortably cold already. Our mini thermometer shows it is around 8 C which is still very mild in comparison to what lies ahead of us. When the group returns – everyone looks exhausted as the walk to the monastery was quite steep with a lot of steps – we order dinner. Tonight, it seems, dinner is very short.
Everyone wants to go to bed early. There is no enthusiasm for a round of games this evening.
Have you ever done a high altitude trek? Did you take Diamox or not? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.