Everest Blog: Morning Day Three Of Trek - The Beaten Path
Morning of Day Three of Trek
*Picture quality is poor due to limited data usage. Will replace once we have internet.*
Today we are to trek to the Namche Bazaar. All uphill. Tim left a note for us, it read, “walk slow to go high”. There are no cars or bikes because of poverty but also because of the trails; they are only rocky pathways that go forever up. I take two steps up, stop for breath, two steps up, stop for breath. Supplies are carried on the backs of the Nepali men, everything from layered 8 foot slabs of wood, to tables and chairs stacked into staggering heights.
The women carry large woven baskets filled with grocery goods. A head harness that they slip onto their foreheads is anchored to the basket and/or supplies. They have to lean over at 45-degree angles, some even walk with their backs horizontal with the aid of a walking stick, as they balance the massive weight on their backs. Yaks (naks are the females) are the other way to transport items. We’re told to walk on the inside of the trail when the yaks pass us, as they have no perspective on the width of the load they carry. They’ve been known to knock the odd tourist off the trail. Finally we stop for rest and in the opening of the trees we see Everest and Lhotse. The trekkers huddle together to get early pictures of these majestic mountains.
As we get higher into the upper villages, we pass devastation after devastation from the earthquake. One house has a huge boulder the size of a living room sitting in the middle of the house.
At this point, I pass an elderly woman who looks at me and bursts out crying. She howls, “My home! My home! Gone! My home! My babies gone!” I pat her leg and say, “I’m so sorry!” She motions to my camera to take a picture of her home. I film the home with cracks crawling like vines through it. She’s in the foreground and every time she looks at my camera, she breaks down in tears. She takes me by the hand and pulls me into the house; it looks like a storage room for vegetables, that’s it. Suddenly Besee appears at the door, he’s come back for me. He says she’s drunk and does this all to time to the passing tourists. This isn’t even her home. He pulls me out of the house and four teenage girls are sitting on a rock wall laughing hysterically at me. Another Nepali man tilts his hand towards his mouth as if drinking from a bottle and motions to the woman saying, “Too much wine.” I’ve noticed that the Nepali people don’t beg, none have appeared on the trail asking for money. They are proud, kind people, willing to give you their last dime, which very few even have now. I should have known.
As we come around the corner, a yak slips and falls down the embankment onto our path and just misses a porter leaning his load against the wall of the path in front of me. The owner of the yak runs down the trail and starts to beat the crap out of the yak with a stick… as if the yak meant to do that. The other porters laugh. We plod on and meet a man smaller than me, about 4’9”, carrying a 6 foot tall refrigerator on his back with two microwaves on top.
I have to take a picture; it looks impossible what he’s doing. Our goal is to beat the man carrying the refrigerator to Namche Bazaar. We don’t.
We have to stop at checkpoints. Besee has to show our pictures with our permits and every time they ask the same question, are we carrying cameras? For some reason they don’t care about cell phones. There’s a sign above the checkpoint asking for information on a US man who is missing. He went trekking last year in the Himalayans Mountains on his own and they think he fell down a crevasse.
We keep climbing the trail and pass a group of people standing around a man with his feet propped up. He was trekking down the path and slid off the trail, fell down the embankment and hit his head. We keep going and later we see a Nepali man race down the trail all the way from Namche Bazaar with oxygen. Then later another man races down with a medical kit. This is the only way they can help injured people on the trail. Then later still, eight men race past us up the mountain path towards Namche Bazaar carrying a stretcher that the man is strapped into. He bounces about on the stretcher as the men navigate the trail in a jog. Maybe not the best for a head injury, but this is the best they can do with their version of an ambulance. Finally we make it to Namche Bazaar and I see the men with the injured tourist and I ask Besee if I can stay here to see how the helicopter lands.
We wait two hours. Same old story: hurry up and wait. I learn a lot sitting and watching the people of the Bazaar. I see where the locals dump their garbage. A woman carries a big white canvas bag and empties it into the valley. She does this four times. On the archaic helicopter-landing pad, several yaks and naks lay on the dirt ground while 4 to 7-year-old kids run between them trying to fly their kites. When the kites dip and boing the yaks on the head, the yaks just lay there as if to say, “Whatever!” Finally the helicopter arrives and the kids scatter and the yaks and naks jump up and race away in a gallop. A dust storm fills the air making the helicopter disappear as it lands.
The concussed man has his arms draped over a Nepali man on each side of him and they walk him to the helicopter. The helicopter starts up again creating a new dust storm and then flies into the air. It will cost the man $1,000 to ride out via helicopter, the cost of evacuation.