Day 4 – Stiff, muscles tightened, I awoke with the pain of an intense workout at the gym. This was a natural gym at its best. My body took a thrashing after yesterdays forced hike trying to get ahead of schedule. Sore and aching, I stretched it out as best I could with my very brief knowledge of yoga, but the show must go on. I loaded up on breakfast, muesli and boiled eggs. Nothing but protein and carbs, hoping to keep me going for the day.
As I packed my things, it began to drizzle but I didn’t want to set out any later. I had a goal I wanted to meet for the day, staying ahead of schedule. Instead of breaking into a heavy downpour, luckily it only left the ground damp and ceased after a half an hour. With or without the rain I was soaked through due to the steep ascents. Always trying to keep my eyes out for wild berries, anything recognizable so I can inquire in the next town about them, I found some wild strawberries alongside the trail. The one benefit I think to hire a guide opposed to taking it on yourself for me would be learning more about foraging for edibles in the Himalayas.
With my body still adjusting to the intense physical demands of trekking the mountains, I felt there was times I lost touch with what I was even doing. Almost falling forward to force the next foot in front of the other, feeling each step in the soles of my feet. I clambered into Dhukur Pokhari with the thought of continuing on, but for once my better judgement beat my stubbornness. I needed a break and didn’t want to chance travelling in the dark, not to mention my pace had dramatically slowed since the last village. Other than my feet my body couldn’t fully feel the pain it was in until I took my pack off and tried to rest. My left shoulder had the worst of it, my back was sore and my legs felt like jelly trying to walk up stairs. I felt slightly nauseas from the combination of hunger, dehydration, physical exhaustion and thousand or so meter rise in altitude. Almost a full day ahead of the recommended checkpoint, I collapsed happily into bed.
Day 5 – It was a beautiful morning, no trace of rain. The clouds almost non-existent for the first time letting the sun break on through warming the bones and drying the clothes I had hanging off my pack like a clothes line. Miraculously my shoulder almost forgot the pain it was in, leaving only my feet to remind me of the torture I’d put them through. The aroma of pine and spruce permeated the air as the climate changed as I rose in elevation. From subtropical slowly transforming into an alpine region with a large farming presence with fields of buckwheat, millet and beans. As I worked my way towards Manang I noticed juniper bushes in abundance. Unfortunately most were unripe but managed to find a handful to chew on. Stopping for tea in a small village I was introduced to sea buckthorn juice made from a berry that grows wild in the region, which had a flavour similar to carrot and orange together.
I reached my goal by three o’clock sunburnt and ready to call it an early day. I checked into the Tilicho Hotel and met the first trekkers I had seen in three days. I didn’t really know if I would run into many others and as nice as it was to trek peacefully at my own pace, it was a breath of fresh air to meet some new people. One more dal baht (I lived off this) with a dal made from buckwheat opposed to lentils and a sunset over the mountains, it was time to crash. An early morning would come quick.