Mount Everest Base Camp Trek, Day 5: Phortse Tenga – Dole

By the time we get up, a whole religious ritual must have already taken place in the dining room, because there is a piercing scent of incense. The little daughter of the house who taught us a few Nepali words yesterday, welcomes us to the rhythm of her homemade cymbals from two empty tuna cans. She’s the cutest little girl with round purple-red cheeks and a ponytail that is well hidden under a bright orange beanie.

When we are preparing to leave, the owner of the lodge is singing Hindu prayers. As is customary here, we fold our hands together, we bow our heads and we say goodbye. At the small washbasin outside we quickly brush our teeth. Before the trail takes us further uphill, I take a picture of the solitary lodge, which is hidden between the mountains and has the complete supremacy over the beautiful view.

The path immediately rises steeply through a colorful rhododendron forest. It is freezing cold, but the sun is shining brightly in a clear blue sky. We are once again amazed by the beautiful mountains, which modest in their own grandeur, stand stirlessly in the never ending landscape. Apart from the chirping of a few birds, everything is completely silent. A river flows through the valley. But we are too high to hear the rustling.

The landscape embraces me. The pink-red bushes and the white-gray mountains surround me like a warm coat. As if they want to give me a mental boost, because my health has ended up in a downward spiral. I don’t like to admit it, but the coughing causes almost unbearable pain, deep into my lungs. I feel that I’m not able to breath sufficient oxygen, which makes my energy level worryingly low. On pure willpower, I climb higher, step by step.

Past a waterfall we climb over a bare and sandy mountain ridge to a beautiful viewpoint. We decide to take a slightly longer break.

I feel strengthened and after the pleasant break I manage to climb to Dole in one go.

In the village we are immediately welcomed by a friendly lady. She suggests that we stay overnight in her lodge. She offers us two chairs outside where we can catch our breath after the climb. She serves us tea. Unnoticed, I close my eyes under my sunglasses… The apparent temperature here is a lot lower than we have been used to in the past few days. The sun which shines on my nose and cheeks – the only non-covered body parts – feels wonderful. I doze off for a moment… Pure bliss!

The lady of the lodge has heard my heavy cough and gives all kinds of tips to take care of me. When the fog rises, Wim suggests that I take an afternoon nap. He is right. My lungs aren’t doing that well, and some extra sleep will certainly do no harm.

When Wim wakes me up for dinner a few hours later, I still feel pretty miserable. I don’t have any appetite, but I try to eat a little something because I know I need the energy. Because my head is exploding as well, we fear that the great altitude sickness monster has gotten to me.

Tomorrow we will arrive in Machermo. We have read that a “rescue post” has been set up there, which is primarily intended to help sick or hurt sherpas. But passing hikers with symptoms of altitude sickness can go there as well. We agree that I let myself be examined tomorrow, because it is obvious that I cannot go any further without medication – or at least medical advice. With a head full of worries, we crawl into bed. Hopefully we will get some good news tomorrow …

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