The Shark Lady travels on
Trip Start Sep 23, 2004
77Trip End Ongoing
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We wanted to cross Cho La, the high pass across to Gokyo, but the guide we had arranged to take us over felt that the recent snow could make the glacier crossing on the other side unsafe, as the path could be unclear and crevaces would get covered. We decided not to risk it, and followed the longer route which took us down this valley then up into the Gokyo valley
Nibbles the inflatable shark, who travels on the outside of my backpack, continued to make friends. By this stage I had learned the Nepalese word for fish- 'mata'. They don't seem to have a word for shark, but in a landlocked country this is maybe unsuprising. The porters found Nibbles very amusing, and I got greeted with shouts of 'mata!' (or 'tuna' or- slightly surreally- 'plane' or 'helicopter'). He also acquired a fan base amongst the local children, who liked to give him a squeeze, although I did need to watch out for little people with light fingers! He was also a great ice breaker- as everyone wanted to know why this mad woman was carrying a blow up shark
Our walk from Pangboche to Phortse was nothing short of spectacular. There were no other villages between the two (leading us to grow rather hungry as we didn't pack lunch), and the only people we met were a couple of porters, a small yak train and a wandering sadhu (itinerant Hindu holy man), who seemed rather out of place in this Buddhist region, with his orange robes, very long grey beard and Shiva trident. We walked on narrow paths hacked out of the sides of chasms- not a route for those with a fear or heights! The views across the valley to Tengboche, Ama Dablam and Lhotse were great. The peacefulness also brought out the wildlife; some large eagles and three Himalayan tahr browsing beside the trail. The tahr is a large species of goat, about the size of a fallow deer though more heavily built, with magnificent flowing coats and manes. Beyond Phortse and later in Kumjung we also saw Danphe- dark blue Himalayan monal pheasants with irridescent turqoise heads and wings, and orange flashes visable when they fly. I also saw a different, beautiful side to the faithful plodding yak, when two beasts full of the joys of autumn ran down a hillside, tails streaming and long fur flowing.
As we reached Phortse, the potato planting season was in full swing
The next day began with an extremely steep hill, and steps created by someone who presumably had much longer legs than me. I am taller than most of the Sherpas so goodness knows how they manage to get up. Slowly, I suppose. As we gained height again we saw some pretty waterfalls tumbling down into the valley below, and began to get views of the bigger mountains. After lunch the ascent became gentler, and we stopped at Luza, a small village half way up the valley. This was recommended by a trekking guide we had met in Kathmandu- a very nice chap called Joel who runs a trekking company with Jamie McGuiness, who has written one of the best trekking guides to the region. He turned out to be a useful person to know- as well as lots of interesting trekking tales and tips, he got us a big discount in restaurants in Kathmandu and gave us a list of the best places to stay. Chamjee, the Sherpani running the lodge, was lovely and fed us a wonderful dal bhat, with endless refills of rice, yellow dal and vegetables and a side dish of chill-pickled carrots (yummy!). Luckily for me Oli was not a real spice monster, so I was able to devour most of them! The next morning Chamjee loaded us with coconut biscuits for the onward trek, and we set off again- ever upwards!