2nd November, 2010- Pike Peak Base Camp

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Having breakfast in Ngaur with beautiful scenic view

Ngaur – Pike peak Base camp

Trekked today up from Naur to Pike Peak Base Camp, not a long distance, but a steady uphill to 12000 feet, and each step is smaller and slower, accompanied by a deeper breath than you might imagine such a small step to require.  Now it finally feels like we’re in the mountains:  cold, wearing thermals and hats and gloves, views of enormous snowcapped peaks, and surrounded by misty clouds and not-so-tropical vegetation.  Never ever before saw so many different cloud formations moving so fast, up and down the mountainsides, from the brightest white, to the darkest gray, the sun sometimes blazing warmth and sometimes hidden away, and clouds melting into wisps right in front of your eyes.   Could just sit and watch it for ten minutes as if it’s a show, because the scene changed every few seconds.

Team heading to Pike Peak Base Camp

No wonder people feel the wonder of nature here; the space lends itself perfectly to spirituality and respect for our great outdoors.  Started the day with breakfast at a table set three feet next to a monastery, with views of a valley to the south, the tall Himalayas to the north, Deurali Pass where we crossed a couple days ago to the west, and our destination Pike Peak to the east.  An unexpected treat after breakfast:  they opened up the monastery for us, with hundreds of carvings inside, walls lined with prayer books, and an enormous prayer wheel we each took turns spinning.  I was so overcome with spirituality that not only did I pray for good weather (to take away the clouds obscuring our views and give us sunshine), but also for all the friends and family I could think of, and even family members I don’t even like all that much!   A delightful elderly deaf woman told us her life story in Nepali Sign Language, and conveyed intense warmth in her broad smile.

Slow and steady tuk-tuk up the hill with frequent stops to take photos of rhododendron forest, colorful pine cone bits, and tiny five-pointed blue flowers on the moss-lichen ground.  And yet somehow they have managed to build giant stone steps all the way, no matter the elevation or remoteness.  Well I guess it’s not so remote if we’re on the Numbur Cheese Circuit; this afternoon we visited a yak cheese factory.  Actually a “nak” cheese factory since yaks and male and naks are female.  One room with an enormous cauldron for boiling the milk, and various gadgets for pressing it down into cheese.  Only in service in June and July, so the family has a teahouse they run for additional year-round income.

Numbur Himal view through Pine tree forest

No view of Everest today because of the clouds and fog, but we’ve been praying all day for it to clear, along with burning of juniper to make the gods happy, and we might sacrifice Karma Sherpa tomorrow if the gods demand it.  Hopefully we can see Everest tomorrow so that Karma can continue onwards to his home village and family.
Kiran Pandit

Pike Peak Base Camp
Team at Pike Peak looking down