So, after a very poor night of sleep (altitude/lack of oxygen is not conducive to a restful night) I was up with the sparrow's fart as usual and outside nicotine loading for the day. I was scheduled to go up Kal Patthar but when my guide got up I told him, "Look mate, I didn't ask to go up Kal Patthar and I don't want it. What I want is to go back to the land of hot baths and cold martinis.".
And so we headed back.
And back and back and back. I turned into a machine. Eleven or twelve hours a day, it didn't matter - I was getting the hell out of there. I was tired of being tired. Tired of yak shit everywhere. Tired of awful food and worse toilets.
I was thrilled to see the sign for the Italian Weather Observatory because it meant I was near Lobuche and a nice hot cup of tea. Near meaning another hour of hiking - these things are relative right?
And then it was on to Pheriche. So you see, what takes 3 days to do going up takes one going down. For one thing, you don't have to do an acclimatisation day every third day and for another you're so much stronger fromhiking for days and as you gradually descend the increased oxygen helps as well. But it's still a long day.
As I approached the dreaded Pumori Lodge in Pheriche, I was surprised to see 4 stray dogs mooching about. I could have sworn I'd seen those same dogs in Namche and, sure enough, there was a group from Loughborough University who had just arrived and the dogs had followed them. They were busy washing clothes in the stream so I just went into the lodge to collapse and order a hot shower.
AS they came in to drape their clothes on the backs of chairs by the fire (which had been lit. I guess the truculent staff felt that having more than one guest justified a bit of heat), I was told that my shower was ready and handed my stack of clean clothes. The poor kids boggled - they'd had no idea it was possible to have ones laundry done. I explained that I'd ordered the shower and clean clothes on my way up and that, as far as I'm concerned, 80p per item of clean clothing was money well spent.
And with that I had a long, hot (if meagre) shower and re-emerged rosy and scrubbed and smelling sweet. Success!
It was lovely to have people to talk to and I stayed up late (10pm!) playing cards and talking shit and sharing out hot chocolate.