Mount Everest Base Camp Trek, Day 8: Machhermo – Gokyo

Other hikers look at me with pitiful eyes, when they see me go to the primitive French toilet hut in the morning. Not because of the inadequate hygiene in that cabin – we are used to that by now – but because they heard someone coughing and throw up during the night. And throwing up at this alititude means with almost 99% certainty “game over”. It’s true, people know me here as the heavily coughing young lady, but this time it wasn’t me. I was able to keep my Nepalese noodles in my stomach last night and left them this morning as usual at the toilet in the shape of diarrhea. In other words, I feel pretty good and we decide to start our journey towards Gokyo.

Yesterday evening it snowed a bit. And as a result of the freezing cold last night the freshly washed trousers of one of the other hikers that was hung up to dry, is completely frozen. With three layers of clothing we get ready for another hiking day. A grazing yak says goodbye when we leave Machhermo.

The path rises quickly. Under a blue sky we climb to one of the most beautiful viewpoints so far. We are overwhelmed and enjoy the view to the fullest.

At the highest point a white Tibetan prayer flag blows in the wind. The locals believe that by the blowing of the wind the prayers and mantras printed on the flag will rise to the gods. It is said it would bring happiness to the person who hung up the flag and to his family, friends and even enemies.

The first rescue helicopter is already awake and it seems to be on its way to Gokyo as well. We have gotten so high now that the helicopter flies below us. It is a crazy sight.

For a while the path becomes a lot smoother to walk. We flirt with the same altimeters for a long time. In the distance we see a mountain ridge that we have to cross. When we arrive at the top we sit down to rest for a moment.

The path becomes rougher. While gently climbing, it takes us to the place where the Dudh Kosi finds its origin. At the end, some rocky steps make me gasp for air. A female hiker with apparently good connections has arranged a horse for herself. The trail is probably physically too hard for her, or maybe she is injured. She doesn’t seem to have a lot of riding experience, because she is sitting on the horse somewhat clumsy. Her Nepalese companion who’s on foot has also noticed this, and he lets her get off the horse when they arrive at the rocky steps. Poor woman, the steepest part she still has to do on her own.

At the top we reach a beautiful azure lake. Our backpacks go off and we each eat two bars of chocolate. Wim suffers from migraine. It’s a condition that he usually suffers from once every two years. His migraine is always accompanied by seeing an aura. About 25% of all people who have migraines are in the same boat as Wim and also get to see that aura. Wim describes it as a kind of blind spot that shifts in front of his field of vision. Perhaps his migraine is triggered by the thin air at this altitude, as migraine occurs due to a narrowing of the blood vessels in the brain. I walk ahead and Wim tries to follow my feet with his eyes. After all, the tricky thing is that it’s exactly his focus area, which becomes blurred. My feet are just dangling beneath this focus area of his, so in this way Wim can orient himself more or less. We are surprised by how much this journey has already physically demanded of our bodies. Never before have we been ill on our countless previous trips. And now we get everything at once.

We arrive at a second lake that is even more beautiful than the first. The water is crystal clear. If it wouldn’t be so cold at this altitude, I would undoubtedly take off all my clothes and take a refreshing dive. This is nature in its purest form. What a privilege that we can see this with our own two eyes.

Not much later we arrive at a third lake. It is at this lake that Gokyo is located and we have reached our final destination for the day.

Luckily the migraine of Wim is over and we go looking for a place to sleep. The “Fitz Roy lodge” was recommended by a fellow hiker and we indeed notice that this must be one of the more luxurious lodges on the trip. Yet we leave it aside. Instead we go for the “Lake Side Lodge”. A name that is much more tropical than the accommodation actually is. The lodge is extremely primitive and is hosted by an elderly couple. The son of the house has painted colorful pictures on the ceiling. Although I prefer to keep my ceiling white at home, the bright colors blend in perfectly here. The man is clearly very talented. The windows in the rooms have slits where a yeti could easily stick his head through. Knowing that temperatures will drop well below zero again this night, this doesn’t promise any good. But the lodge is quiet and wonderfully authentic. So quiet even, that the owners are comfortably snoring next to us, while we are enjoying our tea. You couldn’t find a more relaxed atmosphere than this, even if you tried…

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