Pheriche Travel Blog› entry 106 of 115 › view all entries
I take the long way round to Pheriche village, missing the turning that would have sliced a third from my journey. I end up having to make my way along the high East side of the valley, then scramble my way down a steep sandy path, scattered with loose rocks.
I try to ignore the spectacular mountain scenery, resplendent under the clear blue skies with which we have been blessed almost every day of the trek so far. I dread to think what descending in bad weather would be like. I’m concentrating on putting one foot in front of another, ensuring that I don’t stumble and injure myself. Even a twisted ankle up here could be a serious problem now I’m walking alone.
The scattering of stone built lodges that make up wind-blasted Pheriche huddle in the bottom of the rocky valley. Flanked on both sides by magnificent snow clad peaks, the landscape is harsh, bare; I’m still well above the tree line altitude of 4,000 Metres. Thankfully, the mid-morning sun provides enough warmth to sit out in the yard of one of the lodges to attempt to eat.
A tiny old Nepalese lady with a face like a withered apple and a ready smile comes to ask what I’d like. I go for vegetable soup, thinking that some starchy potato and veg would be good energy fare. The soup arrives within five minutes; it’s water thin, obviously a Cup-a-Soup. Not quite what I’m expecting but, smiling regardless, I thank her.
I force the powdery Cup-a-Soup down, along with another Mars Bar.
‘You want to see baby cow?’ She asks suddenly, gifting me with that broad, genuine smile that comes naturally to the Nepalese. Despite my tiredness, I do indeed want to see the baby cow so she leads me through the dim lodge to the back yard. Here, there is a small roofed enclosure. The ‘baby cow’ is in fact a large-eyed baby yak, reclining in some straw. The old lady feeds it some of the potatoes whilst I look on, proclaiming how cute it is.
Whilst we have been away, the scruffy yak has ventured into the yard in search of the holy potato grail. As we emerge from the lodge, it spots us, panics, and legs it, hooves clattering as it scrambles from the yard. The old lady is off like a shot; scooping up some stones from the floor she chases the yak’s fast retreating form. I look on laughing, surprised by her speed, as she yells, flinging stones around the yak’s feet to hurry it along.
The old lady returns, unconcerned by my mirth, offering me the same wide smile as before. ‘Greedy cow,’ is all she offers in way of explanation, before describing the route that will lead me down to Pangboche.
So, tank semi-filled with Cup-a-Soup and chocolate, I set off once more, slightly sad to be leaving the old lady’s company. The Nepalese have an uncanny knack of making you smile, even when you’re hurting inside.