My body clock was pretty funky after all the travel; I woke up well before sunrise. This turned out to be fortunate, as peeking out of the window revealed the moon setting over an amazing scene that had been covered by clouds yesterday. The snow line had come down pretty far, maybe 200 meters above town, so the trees were dusted with snow, and the air was really crisp and clear. I took about a million pictures of the moonset and sunrise.
For the first time on the trip, we had some relaxation time in the morning to hang around the town. We played some soccer with the porters, and one of them started dribbling the ball like a basketball, which got me interested. We rigged up one of their luggage baskets on the second floor of the tea house to give us something to shoot at, and I hopped on a unicycle for a little uni basketball demo.
My knee swelled up after the previous day’s ride, and I was still having problems with it. Patellar tendinitis, most likely. During my training I’d had an injury that required three stitches, and while it was healed, I think that doing all the training I did when it wasn’t 100% threw the knee out of whack. It would be a problem for the whole trip; I dealt with it by taking lots of ibuprofen, and dialing back the riding a bit.
Today’s ride was supposed to be easier, with a smoother road like we’d seen in the second half yesterday. And the road was indeed smoother, but we were also higher; we started today at almost 2700 meters, and we’d finish above 3200. I felt it; there were a number of climbs that I normally would make easily that I just didn’t have the oxygen for. Everyone was walking a lot.
Upside: We got to look at the increasingly spectacular scenery. On our right side was this incredible granite bowl called Paungda Danda (Gateway to Heaven), 1500 meters tall and twice that wide, and on the left was Annapurna II, peaking at 7937 meters (over 26000′).
We got the opportunity to cross a number of bridges on the way; the transitions from one side of the river to the other were always notable, and covered with prayer flags to catch the wind coming up and down the gorge.
For the second day in a row, someone lost a camera they’d left behind. Michelle had gone off to use the bushes, left her camera on a rock and forgot about it. She went back 20 minutes later and it was gone. Our guides told us that Nepalis won’t steal off your person, but they’re poor and they may take opportunities to grab something if it’s sitting around. Concepts of ownership are looser.
I was struggling with what I thought were leg cramps late in the day, and I crawled into bed when I got into town, where I was unable to get comfortable. After tossing and turning for an hour or so, I realized the problem was actually sciatica; getting bounced around in the jeeps and on the uni, and sleeping on pallets had annoyed my back. Large doses of ibuprofen started to address the issue. The tea house had a “gas geyser” (hot shower), which was only a trickle but still welcome. That plus a hot meal sent us off to bed.
[flickr_tags tags=”unipal, day2″ tags_mode=”all”]