Today has been a bit different from yesterday. We started breakfast at a leisurely 7:30 AM, and then took a walk. Weather was cool and cloudy, so our views were very limited as we hiked into the clouds. Namche is carved into a steep horseshoe-shaped valley, and the trail out of town is a series of steep steps make of rock and mud.
After 90 minutes we made it to the Everest View Hotel. This is an odd place… built some years ago as a “luxury” hotel that caters to folks who fly in by helicopter, then breathe oxygen-rich air in their rooms while admiring “breathtaking” views of the mountain. Well, we did not need the oxygen and did not get a good view. But, great company and a nice way to stretch our legs and get the lungs working.
Enjoyable coming down in a light snowstorm, with huge wet flakes that reminded me of the Cascades back home. Wet snow has continued to fall all day, turning the streets into rivers of mud, slush, and yak dung. Not a good look! No matter, we are enjoying good times with fun conversation and warm lodgings and plenty of good food and drink.
Namche is a trading center for the region, and has lots of amenities. I was amazed today to see how much mountaineering gear is available in town. Almost all of it is counterfeit, but built well enough to get me through the trek with the few things I have decided that I need (an extra pair of trekking socks, an extra long sleeve zip top, a few tiny items). Most of today was spent relaxing in the hotel or bakery… and nursing our upper respiratory tract infections.
Cough and sore throat are common up here, and sadly it is happening to many of us. I felt pretty good this morning, perfect in fact, but by this afternoon I could not deny that I had developed a sore throat. No surprise given our hike in the wet snow up to about 12,500 feet. Much of this is simply irritation of the airway due to drying of the mucus membranes, which hurts like the dickens, but there are always viruses right there, ready to take advantage of this reduced immune system. Dealing with this happens in a variety of ways, including reinforcement of diligent hand hygiene to prevent spread in the group (and our team is already excellent about this), keeping warm & hydrated, and hydrating the airways as best we can. I do this by sleeping with a buff (a flexible bandana) over my mouth and nose to retain warmth and moisture with each inhalation. I also sleep with a xylimelt parked in my cheek to provide some artificial oral lubrication. Otherwise, the mouth’s mucus membranes can dry out, which is both uncomfortable and allows some pathogens a toehold on their way down the upper airway. I also have a portable nebulizer that delivers a fine mist of purified water with each breath. Hot tea, etc, are also soothing, just like any cold. If this develops into a cough I have other options too, but hope this will not be necessary.
In bed now, warm and comfortable, falling asleep listening to slabs of heavy wet snow slam to the ground like bombs dropping from the eaves above. Tomorrow will be a rest day here in Namche, which suits me fine, based on my minor illness and the unfavorable weather forecast. Looking forward to getting my kit finalized, finishing some laundry, resting and joking with my friends… and finding a way to post this blog (connectivity has been poor, probably because so many people are stuck in town, trying to surf the net).