November 15, 2013
Allow me to begin by vowing to never ride a horse in the Himalayas again. Yes, I’m aware it sounds completely exciting and adventurous at first, but the moment you get on the back of a horse like the one I had the displeasure of riding today you will find yourself questioning the idea.
I woke up, gave Mingma the money for the horse ($150US), and watched the rest of the team hike off after breakfast. Shortly afterwards, an older gentleman pulled a horse up to a short stone wall. The horse didn’t look happy. Mingma directed me onto the wall and I swung my leg over. It wasn’t too comfortable but at least I wasn’t walking on my knee. The horse neighed as her bell (all the animals wear bells to warn trekkers they are coming) rang when we “took off”. Mingma told me Cami would follow me and carry my pack for me. If there was anything I needed, I was to tell him. I was also instructed on how to properly hold the saddle. When we went up, I was to hold the front of the saddle (a simple English one) and lean forward. Going down meant I needed to hold onto the back of the saddle and lean back.
After five feet, we started to descend. It wasn’t long before I passed the group on the trail. They all laughed and waved. I thought it was fun too until the stupid horse slipped a little while walking on the edge of the trail. My heart dropped and I think it may have stopped for a minute. Alain took a couple of photos as we passed.
The trail went up and then went down. I held on for dear life the entire time (I didn’t want to fall off the horse) so I have no pictures of the actual trail. My fellow trekkers, though, took some pictures along the way while they were together so I do have those pictures to share of the route. When coming to a steep part, going up or down, the horse often stopped. I felt the same way—I wish we could just stop and be done with the ride, but I rented the horse for the entire day and I was going to get my money’s worth.
Cami asked me if I wanted him to take a picture of me on the horse. I declined and told him I really didn’t want to remember this. We arrived at our lunch spot about an hour before the others. I sat outside in the lodge’s courtyard and sipped on tea as I waited. I was also able to pull out my book and read for a bit. I’m not sure if I mentioned the book I’m reading, but it’s called “Touching My Father’s Soul” by Jamling Tenzing Norgay. His father was the Sherpa that summited Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary. He was asked by David Breashears to come along when he filmed the IMAX film Everest. The book discusses the season on Everest (one of the worst on record). Amy recommended the book to me. She told me to bring it with me on this hike. I know why now. Norgay talks about some of the places we have been so it is an enjoyable read.
I finally heard the group coming up the trail. I was so glad to hear and see them! We were ushered upstairs to the lodge’s gathering room. As we ate, we could hear the horse’s loud neighs, or protests as I like to think of them. Then Amy was able to persuade Eisha to sing a song. She sang Adele’s “Someone Like You”. I had no idea she could sing like that but it was absolutely beautiful. Her voice rivaled that of Adele’s.
Soon it was time to say goodbye to the group, but first I had to get on the horse. I was shown to another stone wall but the horse refused to get close enough for me to swing my leg. The old man didn’t really understand but Mingma tried to turn the horse around and come back to the wall closer. It refused. Alain tried pushing the horse to the wall and I was able to eventually get on. When the horse was let go, she neighed and side stepped and sort of bucked up. Luckily I didn’t have that much longer left on the beast.
Along the way, we passed some trekkers. I told them walking was the way to go, not horse riding. We crossed a suspension bridge. I’ve heard people talk about how nerve racking it could be but imagine going across one on a horse! If I fell off the horse I’d be a goner for sure. The horse, again, stopped and would have to be pulled. I often found myself hyperventilating because the horse just loved walking on the edge. Cami would ask me if I was okay and I’d nod my head. I finally asked him if he could ask the old man to guide the horse away from the edge. Cami asked him but the horse didn’t really care for the request. We passed our yaks on the way. That wasn’t fun. The man kept trying to pass the yaks on the narrow path but a yak would get in the way. Eventually, he was able to get around but not before scaring the crap out of me yet again.
I could tell we were getting closer to Namche because I recognized the Sherpa Museum as we passed it. I sighed with relief as I saw us near the lodge…until Cami turned one way the old man kept walking. He said he was going around the monastery—it was an easier route for the horse (at this point though, it didn’t matter). Then he still kept going pass the lodge and Cami told him he needed to turn the horse around. Well, common sense would suggest one turn the horse around on a wide area, but nope. Not here! The horse was turned around on the stairs. The narrow stairs. I closed my eyes as the man turned the horse around. Finally, I could get off the horse. My knee was killing me but I was happy to be off that beast.
I was able to take a shower after getting to my room. I needed it and I know from our previous stay that their showers were pretty good compared to the other lodges. The water was hot and wonderful. I was able to borrow some shampoo from Tanya (bless her) and wash my hair. It was wonderful. Tiffany was also taken to the clinic by Amy because of her cough. You could tell she wasn’t up to par at lunch today. She was given some medicine and should start feeling better in a few days.
At dinner, I told Amy to look into a helicopter for the remainder of the way. I’m upset about the whole thing. I wanted to finish this trek on my own but I don’t want to hurt my knee any worse. I called dad and told him. I didn’t want to call mom or dad before now because I didn’t want to worry them anymore than I needed to. Dad told me I should be proud of the progress I’ve made and I should be proud I reached my goal of getting to EBC. I felt better after talking to him. It will be my first helicopter ride, but I’m sure it’ll be fine. Helicopters are pretty common up here from what I’ve seen. I’ll fly from here to Lukla and spend the night tomorrow night while the team hikes to Monjo and stay there. They’ll meet me in Lukla the following day. I’m not sure what I’ll do on my own in Lukla, but it should be okay. Perhaps I’ll get some souvenir shopping done!