Last weekend I spent a few days in Moab, UT with a cycling meetup group to take advantage of the (typically) warm weather and sunshine for spring training. I attended the same meetup last year and it was a wonderful experience, though the weather was not as friendly this year, it was still a fun time. The first day started with high (40MPH gusts) winds, rain, sleet and cold so after 25 miles I called it and headed to the Moab Brewery for lunch and to reheat. A short hike from the campsite brought us to Corona Arch where we witnessed a brave soul swinging from the top. Dinner was at the Peace Tree Juice Bar & Cafe, if you are ever in Moab, make sure to stop in for one of their unbelievable smoothies. The following day was sunny, though brisk and windy. We climbed on our bikes from near Moab to Dead Horse Point for some breath-taking views of the canyons and returned to camp for some R&R before a scenic preview drive through Arches National Park (followed by tiramisu gelato). Monday early camp was broken (we camped at the Gold Bar campsite on Potash road) and we headed to the visitor center of Arches for our last ride of the trip, 35 miles out-and-back from the visitor center to Devil’s Garden (the end of the road).
As you may be well aware, this blog doesn’t get the focus and attention that is deserves, it has become a (still nice) collection of travel narratives with some technical posts randomly interjected. As of now, that will end. I am going to refocus this into a travel/personal blog for friends and family to keep abreast of my doings around this small blue ball we call Earth and will keep technical musings out. “Where?”, one might ask will they be able to go to find the deep technical insight (ha) and the clarity of current technical issues; the answer is my new blog Security Counterpoint, where I will diligently muse and report on happenings in the security landscape from my perspective.
After making some arrangements to trek out of the snow with some other folks, we set off through the still hard snow into a beautiful sunny day, surrounded by snowy peaks and reminded of the weather in Gokyo as almost 20 helicopter trips were needed to fly trekkers out of the 5.5 feet of snow. Once below snow line I got into the pace to make miles, from Machermo to Pangboche in a long day. To stay out of the snow, I had decided to focus on seeing some more of lower country and spent a few days touring various monasteries and seeing familiar faces.
After an overnight trip to Thame to get off the beaten path I started working my way down to Lukla and this morning flew back to Kathmandu, ending my trek, but not my trip just yet. Reunited with a hot shower and cotton clothing feels pretty nice.
I arrive in Gokyo mid morning with my temporary trekking buddy Sophie to find blue skies and thin air. Higher than I’d ever been before, my pace was reduced to a slow plod. Gokyo is situated next to the 3rd of 6 sacred lakes in a chain fed by a glacier and high in copper, leaving them a brilliant blue hue. After a bit of tea, Sophie and I headed up the ridge to see the dry glacier (covered by dirt and rock) and Gokyo from above. Solo once more as Sophie made her way down towards Namche, I caught some time with my book and writing a postcard or two.
After an uneventful evening for me (the two poor doctors had to evacuate 3 people by helicopter and keep one in a PAC bag overnight) I woke up at 4 to make an attempt at Gokyo Ri for sunrise. Seeing heavy cloud cover, I decided to hold off for the next day, and hike to the other lakes later in the morning. When I awoke, I was feeling the altitude amd decided to lay low as the snow started. And kept coming. Next morning it was mid-thigh deep and still coming down hard, I decided that today was the last time for a while I had a chance to get down, but the trail down to Machermo was treacherous, known for the avalanche that killed 13 Japanese trekkers a few years ago. If I was going to do it, there was safety in numbers, so we grouped everyone leaving into one pack and made our way down to the bridge, the start of the slide zone. From here the next kilometer was an adrenaline-enhanced blur, running from terrain trap to terrain trap. I was 10′ from a porter who was caught in a slide and pushed off a cliff into the river below, amazingly okay. The next slide buried a few trekkers and killed a yak or two but I had one thought, get myself down ASAP. (I later learned that all the humans caught in the slide were rescued safely). Once in Machermo, I headed for the rescue post to deliver some messages from the doctors in Gokyo, warm up, and help pump the PAC bag for yet another victim of altitude sickness (HAPE in this case). After a long night at the post, and getting roped (literally) into climbing onto the roof to clear the solar panels to charge the O2 concentrator, I was ready for bed.
Greetings from Machermo (13,850′)! A very short day today from Dole brings me to a beautiful high village bifurcated by a glacial stream. I had an unpleasant run in with a bee a few days ago and had balloon hand. In Machermo, there is a small medical outpost, where I was able to dose my hand in hydrocortisone and the swelling is receding! Last night I spent the night in a lodge with a group of fellow Americans and a young Dutch woman.
You can tell that we are going off the beaten track now, no power, no running water, only small farming villages. The views continue to be impressive and tomorrow I will make the trek to the famed village of Gokyo (15,800′) nestled between a holy glacial lake, Gokyo Ri and a dry glacier reaching down from Cho Oya, the 6th tallest mountain in the world.