Cold morning in Dhole and no fire in the common room so we ate as fast as possible and made for Phortse Tenga at a pretty fast clip. Then we made what was an hour and fourteen minute climb up to Mong La, with the extra weight in the packs it was a challenging climb. However, back at lower elevation and over two weeks in the Himalayas it wasn’t so bad. We stopped at Mong La for a quick cup of tea, a short rest and to take in the view which from there is truly spectacular.
The picture is of my friend Nives at Mong La the first time we came through. Mong La improbably sits on the top of a peak like a Himalayan rest area. Reaching the top there are several little lodges and our two stops there were magical.
Our tea stop was brief and we were on the march again, our goal was back to the Moonlight Lodge in Namche and back to internet connections, hot showers, sit on toilets and great apple pie in the bakeries. However my back was starting to bothering with the extra weight, we came down off of the hill from Mong La and stopped at a lodge and our guide Lhakpa really wanted to move on through and get to Namche but Philippe and I were tired and as tempting as Namche and all it held was, a grumbling stomach won out. So we stopped to sit in the sun and have a snack and it is time to truly introduce you to my friend Phillipe, or as he became to known as, Tatanka. Philippe is from France and speaks excellent English although he doesn’t believe that so much, he’s a big and powerful man and happened to have a Tatonka bag. I don’t know what that means in German but it quickly got co-opted to the Lakota Sioux word for Bison. The following two pictures show exactly how well my friend took to his new name:
Philippe Is a very social man who speaks several languages, when we sat down another Frenchman joined us at the table and the French began to fly. Then several Germans sat at the next table and the German began to fly. It was fabulous sitting there in the middle of several conversations going on at once in English, French and German staring out across the Khumbu Valley with the high peaks in the distance. It was one of few truly cosmopolitan and amazing moments of my life, and then the Frenchman’s meal came, fried eggs on top of French Fries. At that moment it seemed to be the greatest culinary invention in the history of mankind and we order it immediately, much to the dismay of Lhakpa who now realized he’d lost the battle to keep us moving. Fried eggs, French Fries and a coke, it was delicious and different and in that moment has to have been one of the best meals I’d ever eaten. One of those meals that eaten anywhere else, at any other time, would barely be palatable was a veritable feast in the Himalayas.
Eventually Lhakpa did get us moving and when he finally did he demonstrated his desire to get us quickly Namche with a blistering pace. It was a downhill run but my back began to hurt again, but it was time to tough it out, I did and the payoff was spotting two blood pheasants on the way into Namche, awesome. Finally we were back at what seemed like home, Namche, The Moonlight Lodge and a reunion with our friend Tom who had gone down early because he was ill and the cold beer that the reunion promised.