Sadly, our prayers for a good night's sleep remained unanswered.
Zev was up most of the night with stomach cramps, trips to the toilet, and nausea, and when he was up, I was awake.
I did feel much better in the morning - my nausea had subsided, but I was still incredibly tired and low on energy. For the first time in days, I was actually hungry for breakfast. I managed to eat scrambled eggs with toast and tea, and Zev miserably downed some porridge and a hot lemon.
Back in our room, we talked about spending another night in Pheriche to see if we could get some more rest and energy, but Zev said he was feeling better, just tired, so we agreed to carry on to Thukla.
The hike from Pheriche was short, only 3.9kms, with a 400m ascent. We were confident that we'd make the trek in no time, and could spend the afternoon resting in Thukla instead.
We checked out (10,500r including charging two of Zev's camera batteries), and headed out the door at 1025am.
Getting out of the valley
The trail for the day looks delightfully flat. From our accommodation, we turned left and headed north along the floor of the valley. We could see the turn towards Thuka not too far ahead of us, and were both feeling pretty optimistic about the day's hike. Now that he was up and walking, Zev was feeling much better. It was shaping up to be a good day!
Within 10 minutes, we were singing a different song. A howling, biting headwind started ripping down the trail, making every step a battle. Even though the path was pretty flat, it felt like we were walking in jelly, struggling to get any momentum.
It took us over an hour to reach the end of the valley, stopping twice to shelter behind stone walls from the ferocious wind. We think we spotted a Himalayan Marmot at one of our stops, but were both a little delirious, so can't really say for sure.
As we sat collapsed on the ground, struggling to regain any motivation to continue, we looked around. This was without doubt one of the most picturesque areas we'd been in so far, but it was becoming harder and harder to convince ourselves to keep going, knowing that we had about another 10 days of hiking left to go. We carried on, before we could talk ourselves out of it.
The climb into Thukla
At the end of the valley, the path turned right, and we caught sight of our climb. It didn't look too bad, but it was over uneven rocks, and every step felt like a marathon.
Although the climb shouldn't have taken us long, after 45 minutes, we came a across a group coming down. One woman turned to us and said, "Wait til you see what's still ahead of you - this is nothing! And it's freezing up there!". I could have cried. I was completely exhausted, already freezing, and just wanted to be there already. This was the first day where I was really struggling to find any silver lining in the situation.
We quizzed the next woman we passed. "How far??" "Oh, about 2, 2.5 hours?". The look on our faces must have alarmed her. "Wait, where are you going?". She realised her error as we told her our destination - Thukla. "Oh! I thought you meant over the pass to Lobuche, sorry! In that case, aout 15-20 minutes. It's just over this ridge."
Relieved, we dragged ourselves over the hill, and finally caught sight of tiny Thukla across the river.
We climbed down to the river crossing, and spent an arduous 5 minutes trying to find a safe place to cross without falling in. Of course, I fell in. It did not improve my already fractious mood.
As we climbed the path into Thukla, I looked up the hill, and was horrified to see a shack built over the stream. This was the toilet - a shack with a hole cut in the floor, right over the stream that I just fell in to. Fantastic. I could only hope that it was no longer being used, as it looked a little worse for wear.
Thukla consists of two teahouses, and... That's it. We chose to stay at Kala Pattar Guesthouse, and checked ourselves in at 1pm. It had taken us 2.5 hours to walk 3.9kms, and we both felt like we'd just completed a round of American Ninja Warrior.
We settled in to our room, which was basic, but nice, and rested for an hour, unable to even face lunch we were so exhausted. We spent some time chatting about what we were going to do from here. Unless something changed dramatically with our health over the next few days, it seemed unlikely that we were going to want to, or indeed be able to, complete the Gokyo Lakes section of the trek. We both agreed that we were happy to play things by ear, and that if we reassessed after Everest Base Camp (still 2-3 days away) and were still both feeling lousy, we'd just hike back out the way we came and cut things a little short. I think this both made us feel a bit more at ease, and took some of the pressure and stress off.
Kala Pattar Guesthouse
Eventually, feeling a little better now that we were out of the wind (although still freezing cold in the draughty and dark teahouse), we headed down for lunch. Forcing down another veg curry and rice, ramen, hot lemon, milk tea and an apple juice, we tried to recapture some of the energy that had been missing for days. It didn't seem to be working.
We spent the rest of the afternoon tucked up in our sleeping bags in our rooms, desperately trying to say warm as the icy wind whistled through the drafty windows.
Finally admitting defeat, we went down to the common room in the hopes that they'd lit the fire and we could warm ourselves up. They had, but again, you had to be positioned 10cm away from it to feel any of the warmth, and we were a little alarmed to see them regularly stoking the flames with plastic...
Eventually, we forced down dinner (sherpa stew, garlic soup, and a coke), battling with our lack of appetites, and then spent some time chatting to some young Indian guys who were also in the common room. Finally, with a great deal of anxiety about what the night was going to bring, we headed up to bed, desperate for sleep...
Lots of love,
S & Z
Time: 2.5 hours walking painfully slowly...
Elevation gain: 400m
THUKLA ACCOMMODATION INFORMATION:
Lodge: Kala Pattar Guesthouse