Colonoscopy in the Fast Lane

Emily woke up with a cold, on top of having knee and blister issues from hiking for a week with a heavy bag, so we decided she should relax in Namche for a few days. My plan was to do a circuit through Tengboche, Dingboche, Chhukung, and Lobuche before returning to Tengboche to meet her on the 16th. I headed out early in the afternoon, hiking by several stupas on the trail out of Namche. Many people were taking pictures of them but I was much more interested in the Himalayan tahrs (analogous to bighorn sheep or mountain goats in Canada) that I was lucky enough to see on two different occasions that day. Both times they were in small groups with one individual alert, standing on a large rock and looking around, while the others were heads-down eating vegetation on the hillsides. Emily later pointed out that these groups seemed to be females, while the solitary ones we saw in subsequent days appeared to be the longer haired males.

The path was fairly easy most of the way until the very steep, tiring ascent to Tengboche along a dusty switchbacking trail all the way to the top of a high ridge, where the village was located. Partway along, I was dismayed to catch up to a very slow moving yak train. I was able to easily pass a half dozen of the beasts, but got stuck behind the ornery leader at a narrowing in the trail. Spent a few long minutes there behind the beast, inhaling the noxious gas it emitted from intermittent bouts of flatulence, before attempting to pass it. I failed on several attempts because just as I would start getting alongside it, it would shoot me a sideways glance and sidestep towards me. Finally at a wider part of the trail I was able to maneuver around it, but narrowly missed a colonoscopy from the bovid’s horn as it thrust its head in my direction as I passed. A couple of minutes later I passed a rather disgruntled looking Brit who told me all the guesthouses in Tengboche were full and that he and his guide were going all the way back down the hill to the small village at the bottom to find a room for the night. I decided to press on and look for rooms myself and if there were none, that I would simply crawl under a tree with my sleeping bag and have an impromptu night of camping.

After finally reaching Tengboche in the thick, cold, early evening fog I asked around at a number of guesthouses that were indeed full, but ended up getting the last room in a little place around the backside of the village. The room was little more than a broom closet with a bed, sandwiched in between the kitchen and the communal bathroom. I was a bit puzzled at the lack of a light switch in the room and when I inquired about the absence, it turned out the light was on the same circuit as those in the kitchen and that it would not be turned off until all the cooking and cleaning was done sometime after everyone in the place had eaten. Luckily I was tired, and a few local beers at altitude make one a little drowsy quite quickly so it wasn’t too much of an imposition to get to sleep at a reasonable hour.


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