Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Second Day Heading Down.

There is a daily routine even when you are constantly moving. The blue light of dawn means wake-up and immediately put on five layers of to conserve every molecule of heat that you had stored under the blankets. The thoughts of fear always filled my body at dawn. My right knee always hurt more than the left knee with the lacerations. The doctor at the Kunde Hospital was quite surprised that my leg did not break above the knee as that bone took the majority of the brunt fall. So waking up meant getting dressed, having tea and pancakes then start climbing another day. Climbing up or down didn’t make any difference on my knees, just pain and gratitude. The alternate would have been to have been carried or airlifted out by helicopter.

That wasn’t an option in my mind, “You got yourself there and if at all possible you will get yourself out.” And as the final bite of sugar pancake was consumed and one last trip to the outhouse was experienced we would start out. That morning it was decided that Paige could just ‘go’, and off she went. It would be the first day that we would be separated by more that a few moments at a time. As she rounded a trail peak she turned around once again to wave good-bye. I marched on with my ‘right arm’ with Pumpkin carrying both backpacks and slugged along at a turtles pace.

I knew that during this leg of the journey had been a waterfall with a cottage in a modest glen. That image kept me going as on the climb up the hill I had already been wounded and could not stop to ”take a photo moment.” After about three hours and two changes of clothing we stumbled upon my wonderland cottage. We took the time to rest and explore the view. Lhukpa agreed to be my filming crew as I filmed a four-minute video from my new home. All who watched were invited in for tea and the offer of a warm fire was open to all.

Meanwhile, trekking were both coming and go up or down the mountain. Of course it was easy to tell that people who were passing you were going up the mountain and people who were passing you were going down the mountain. Everything passed me; people, dogs, porters, climbers, and the beasts of burden. It was a daily game of tag. The French passed me but as they stopped to tea, I passed them. Thirty minutes later they would pass me again as I paused for a coke.

The day would proceed like that until I saw Paige again sitting out in the sun with a soda open and ready for her mom. The duffle bags were put into our rooms and the porters hung around with us and Lhukpa was in charge. We moved to the sunny side of the street to watch the hardened trekkers who would make that climb in one day. There were only two other climbers staying at our lodge that evening and conversation was inevitable. The evening passed like a firecracker. One of the men was interested in the fact that we were from California as in January he would be beginning his teachings at USC as a professor of Quantum Physics. Yikes, Eureka, Brilliant Blessings, a person to talk to about science. Oops, my science mind was gone. I promised him that with two Mexican cocktails, a sunny day at sea level, I actually understood Maxwell’s Equations. The night around the potbelly stove that night was about anything but climbing – bravo. Paige stepped up to the discussion and the other male from Torino, Italy had fun with the discussion of Formula 1 car racing and martial arts. Full darkness and cold sent us all to our private quarters and the night.

The next morning I found the traveling physicist and said, “Give me your name.” I handed him my email address and he wrote down his name, Paolo Zanardi. Boy did I have a treat to bring back to my husband and to my brother. My brother, James Norman Johnson, is a newly retired physicist from Los Alamos and my husband taught me everything I knew about mathematics, I mean everything.

Today was going to be a good day of descending on foot, as it was our final day. The end of this day would be rougher than expected and I’ll fill in the details in my next message.
Janice Held


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2:53 PM  

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