Since Berkley and I parted ways during the trek due to her getting sick, I'm going to fill you in on what my portion of the trek was like. On day 6 at around 13k feet Berkley and I made a decision that I should go on and she should turn around and head back to lower elevation. Turns out that might have been a good call even if she hadn't been sick, because the next few days were challenging physically. From 13k feet we hiked up and over a pass that topped out at 15k feet then back down to around 12500 feet. It took six hours and we hiked in the clouds and rain most of the day. Along the way we encountered one of many of the Yak herders that live at high elevation during the summer months, they invited us into their house and gave us some hot yak milk tea, corn wine and dried yak cheese. The hospitality people show along the trails is amazing, it speaks to how unforgiving the landscape can be and it's a culture that has evolved out of necessity.
The air was nippy and I ended up wearing every bit of warm clothing I had. During lunch the Sherpa made a small smoking fire and burned a couple of branches of an incense bush that is supposed to clear up the skies and bring the sunshine. Needless to say it worked pretty well, as we arrived at Sasura Beni the skies cleared and I got my first good view of Dudh Kund and the three peaks towering over it Numbur, Khatang, and Karyolung.
The night was even colder than hiking in the rain and clouds. Good thing my sherpa offered to heat some water bottles to slip in my sleeping bag or it would have been a long cold restless night.
The next day we made a mad dash at 6 am to Dudh Kund, it looked close but with the elevation it took me around two and half hours. The porters, not burdened by their Doku (wicker backpacks) flew up the trail and had already walked around the lake by the time I made it up. Keep in mind that I grew up at around 9000 feet in the mountains of Colorado, and my lungs are nothing to scoff at, but these Nepalese guys made me look like a little old lady shuffling about. The Hindus believe that these three mountains are literally the god Shiva and thousands make a pilgrimage every year to worship and cleanse themselves in the lake at the base of the mountains.
After 30 minuets of photos and a cup of hot tea we headed back to camp for lunch and to start the trek to Taksindu. We dropped from 15k feet to 9500 feet in four hours, serious downhill. Just like the day before we hiked in rain and clouds, obscuring the views of mount Everest. Due to all the downhill, my old snowboarding knee injury started acting up, causing every step to shoot a pain up my leg.
After a restless night, due to the huge volumes of smoke from the wood burning fire filling my room and burning my eyes, throat, and clogging my sinuses, we set off for Phaplu. This meant more rigorous downhill that caused further pain and discomfort to my knee. As a result of favoring my good leg, I slipped on a rock covered in yak doo and went down hard on my elbow. Luckily, squirreling away every free moist towelette had finally paid off. I was able to clean the scrape trail side and continue on. We made excellent time and what should have taken 4 to 5 hours took only 3. I made it back to Phaplu and back to a well rested, but still unshowered, Berkley.
Because I made such good time and we were desperate to sleep in a real bed and have a hot shower (10 days with out bathing made for a pretty stinky duo) we jumped on a flight back to Kathmandu, with views of Everest in the distance. We got to see Everest after all, woohoo!