It's 3:36am, my roommate is sound asleep, and I'm up thinking. I feel like a kid with a flashlight under the covers writing this, trying not to waken him for I'm in my sleeping bag writing this covered up.
There are a few things that come to mind that I've forgotten to mention in earlier posts.
My roommate was sharing at breakfast with the group last week that one of the first nights we were at a high altitude sleeping, he was awakened by my breathing; it was a deep gasp! Fighting to breathe, then followed by this long silence of no breathing at all. Being a doctor he said he started to wake me because he was concerned, but later realized days before in one of our lectures that our leader said, " you may find your breathing at altitude changing very drastically. It is your body fighting to adjust itself to the new C02 oxygen ratio. Because there is more pressure at higher altitude, the body is trying to find a balance. Your pulmonary and cardiovascular systems are working hard even as you sleep to adjust. Also, my roommate said he remembered in the lecture that people who go through this type of breathing pattern usually do better at altitude; then he went back to sleep and me, slept on breathing like a man suffocating for oxygen none the wiser until the story was told at breakfast.
One member of our group got a"tough love" speech because they were so exhausted they asked could they stay behind at one of our rest stops; it was done privately. To be honest, we were all shot with fatigue that day and every other day since. The team leader stepped in and got this person on their feet ready to trek the four more hours to the next location. The team leader shared with me that she was not going to leave anyone behind; now that's what I call "never leaving your wingman."
We have all been sick at one point, some have coughed for days, and still are coughing, others have coughed and had headaches, some have had all of that and diarrhea, along with blisters, and exhaustion. I have had a few blisters and had to wrap my toes along with a cough that hopefully is getting better. One doctor told me that when he gets home he's going to do a stool sample on himself to see if there's anything he picked up since he hasn't been feeling too well.
I have had to force myself to eat, and then I still only eat half of what's on my plate, this can be a sign of altitude sickness, loss of appetite at high altitude. A typical day of meals for me is, porridge with scrambled eggs, and hot tea. I eat about half of that. At lunch the menu is fixed and we usually eat potatoes, momo's a kind of dumpling, and rice, along with hot tea; I eat half to a third of what's served; I'm really not hungry. After each of these meals we trek for hours up hill, so whatever we've eaten we've burned off in the first hour of climbing. By 7pm dinner is served and I usually order fried rice, maybe a side if French fries, garlic soup, and apple pie. If it taste good, I'll eat 75% of what's served.
GEB's these are the newly named "Glen Everest Bars," by the team. I got a recipe from my friend Mark on how to make your own energy bars. I altered the recipe and made a huge batch of these before I left and brought them as snacks along with the other snacks I purchased at REI. The bars have been such a success that now during our trek, people are saying, "it's time for a GEB break." I pull out a bag, we cut them open with a Leatherman knife because I sealed them with the food saver machine at home. We have eaten them every day on the climb. They've been called "Glen energizer bars, Glen Ready bars," I have to say so myself, they're pretty good and energizing. The doctors are all telling me to mass produce them and they would sponsor me as long as I supplied they with a few cases; I'll have to think about that. What better endorsement than to get a team if doctors to support your product who have tried it in the field?
Just to illustrate how tired I've been, I passed some wonderful photo opportunities that I will regret not taking because I was to exhausted to get my camera that is attached to my belt out to take the shot. I remember seeing a woman wash her long beautiful black hair outside her door as she hung her head down with her hair draped over her face as she proceeded to wash and comb her hair. The other shot I missed was two little girls about ten years old doing the dishes outside using a large silver washing bowl and getting water from a black hose that evidently was getting water from some stream nearby. I missed a shot of a young girl playing hide-go-seek with a young boy as she threw a small pebble at him and proceeded to hide right in front of me, she smiled as if she wanted me to keep her secret of where she was hiding from the little boy who was bending down to pick up his own little pebble to cast his shot when he found her. Again, this occurred while climbing up hill out of breath, all I wanted was for that damn hill to level off; it didn't, it got steeper and longer. I still recall her bright smile, glistening white teeth, and the innocence of a playful child.
I've learned about my competitive spirit on this trip, I have been challenged beyond belief, and yet I refuse to give up. Maybe because i really don't have a choice here; climb or die. There were times my stomach hurt and felt like I was going to cramp up because of the exertion and because of not enough nutritional intake, but I keep going, one foot after the other, one trekking pole after the other. My spirit had been strong, my determination has driven me. I'm learning so much about me, hoping its going to make me a better person all the way around.
It's 4:59am, I better conserve my strength for the day ahead. The picture is a "Yeti" we saw near a climbing spot, see how large this thing is, it must be 10ft tall and 350lbs. Okay, it's me, doing the Yeti dance on some hill!