The next day we set out for Tengboche. It was going to be a mostly uphill climb so we knew we had our day cut out for us. Well, 15 minutes into trekking up the mountain to get out of Namche, I felt a pain I had never felt in my life. I started using my trekking sticks (dude…I dunno the official name for them) from the get-go but it seemed that that was a big mistake. My hands were frozen, my finger joints felt like I had extreme arthiritis…this was the first time I would break. The pain was so excruciating that I started to cry. Nick took my hands into his and tried to warm them, we got to a sunny patch and I tried to warm my hands in the sunlight. Eventually the pain went away but just the thought of the pain made me very weary the rest of the trip of using my trekking sticks to early…maybe gripping sticks while my hands hadn’t thawed yet had caused the pain? Anywho—although the day started off a bit sticky, we ended up being the first of the trekkers to make it to Tengboche. Along the way it was steep uphill and kinda dusty. We had to peel layers off over the first few hours even while crossing frozen waterfalls and icy patches. The ice started to make us weary since Nick has sensitive knee joints. Due to his old soccer injuries he’s had a number of surgeries and any slip can cause pain or even worse, damage. Along this trek we got the first glimpse of Mt. Everest, that was definitely fuel to keep going. We were able to see the windswept tip of Everest and we were lucky it was such a clear day. We got to Tengboche in time around 2pm since everyday around that time it starts to snow in all directions. We dropped our stuff in our plywood room and decided to take a look at the big monastery there. The Tengboche monastery is very important to the Buddhists in the Sagarmatha area. After a little sight-seeing we got back to the lodge and spent the rest of the evening around the oven chatting with other trekkers that we met along the way! One thing is that the higher you trek, the more expensive the food gets as well as everything else. The room is cheap but they know they’ll get you on the food and even water ends up costing Nepali Rs. 200. But just because the food is expensive doesn’t mean that it gets better, to me everything just tasted stale! Very rarely was the food really any good. It’s almost exploitation…cell phone battery recharge was anywhere from Rs. 200-500 per hour, chai was Rs. 100, a mug of warm water to wash your face, brush teeth etc was Rs. 100-200. Good thing we had changed some cash! We were already starting to crave good home-cooked food.
Although the costs were increasing, the views were getting more and more amazing! The next day we were to start for Pheriche. Most people were going to Dingboche according to their guides and we wondered why Bhim wanted us to go to Pheriche. We soon learned that Dingboche was 200 meteres higher and 2 hours farther than Pheriche. I think most people went there to acclimatize. The first two hours led us through a snow covered forest. It was a beautiful sight to be surrounded by pretty pine trees sprinkled with snow but we were more concerned with the ice on the trail the entire way until we hit the suspension bridge. This day was the most taxing on Nick as he had to go very slow to ensure his knee’s safety. Each day would bring higher elevations, taller peaks, deeper gorges, less vegetation and more ice (and more yaks along the way!). An hour from Pheriche we started to tire but noticed that in all 4 directions clouds started to form really low and the wind picked up. Suddenly snow started to fall and the wind pushed us from behind giving us more encouragement to move on. We got to Pheriche but it literally felt like a ghost town! Bhim led us to the lodge and inside the dining hall we ordered veggie momos and noticed a random picture of the Golden Temple. It turned out the owner’s mother had taken a trip to Amritsar and had brought the picture back. Nick had tired greatly so we retired to our room only to find that there was very little electricity. Our room had no light but Nick was so tired and felt pain in his knee so I helped him into bed and gave him some medication. It was a long tough night but somehow we got through. The people who owned the lodge were very nice though. They gave us food in the room and always kept the oven warm. When we awoke in the morning, white powder covered everything in sight. We figured that since we had made it this far, that we could definitely make it the rest of the way.