The trek from Namche to Tengboche was about 6 hours long. Although long it was one of our less tiring walks. The views were spectacular as we headed into Tengboche. We walked up a gradual trail that wound through a valley with a rushing blue river between and walked over suspension bridges decorated with prayer flags. As we approached Tengboche big peaks poked their way through white misty clouds that seemed to surround the town settled at 12,664 feet. Tengboche is a rural town with little going on but a monastery, there was little power, no internet, and nothing for entertainment but the outdoors. The next day we were set to have a rest day where we would take “rest day measurements” and have the rest of the afternoon to ourselves.
On the morning of our rest day I awoke at 4:00 am and headed up to the ridge in Tengboche. I wanted to see the sun rise over the Himalayas and capture a few shots. As I walked out of the lodge the air was thin and cold. It was still dark and there were several stars glistening and hanging over head. I headed up the ridge with no flashlight. It was surprising easy to see as the trail was covered in white sand. The path was clear and I made my way high onto the mountain until a found the perfect hangout for photos. I could tell the air was thinner but still I pressed forward until I found the perfect spot to capture the sunrise. I climbed onto a large boulder and sat anticipating sun rays to make their way through the mountains. I watched as golden beams of light slowly found their way around onto the peaks highlighting their snowy caps and sharp edges. I found powerful and small all at the same time as I watch the night turn into morning from the edge of the Himalayas alone.
After descending I returned to breakfast, toast and porridge, and met up with the group for our “rest day measures.” These measurements are used to monitor our hematocrit, hemoglobin, and oxygen saturation. If you weren’t feeling well, there was no hiding it, the numbers would reveal your true state. Everyone seemed to be doing pretty well here and there wasn’t much cause for concern at this part in the journey. All of my numbers were good and my oxygen saturation was high, I was feeling strong.
After taking our daily measure Ulco, one of the gentlemen traveling with our group, surprised James and I, with a spur of the moment helicopter ride over the valley. We flew over EBC and I was able to capture stills and GoPro footage while James (who was in a different helicopter) was able to capture footage. The views were unreal, I quickly forgot my fear of flying and was filled with enthusiasm as we flew over snow-capped mountain crests getting seemingly close to the tops of the ridges. It was almost as if I could reach my hand out of the window and touch the top of the rocky peaks. I later learned from Gord and Olav (two of the researchers doing the EEG recordings on the monks) that we were incredibly close to stalling out a few times which is why we were flying through the low passes. I was incredibly grateful to learn about this AFTER the fact.
Later in the evening with no power and no internet source there was a peak close by that I wanted to climb. Two of the research subjects, Shelby and Kayla, were up for the challenge and we made our way to the summit of a small peak. We finished the peak and came back down in roughly 50 minutes, an impressive defeat. We celebrated at the top of the summit and made our way back down to join the rest of the group for dinner. The next day we would be off to Pheriche so we need to rest up for our 5 hour hike.