Woke up feeling a bit better around 6:30 am and wanted to rest for some time. All other trekkers left the lodge and I sat with my guide to check on my health and decide if want to go further or rest here for some time. Around 8:30 was feeling much better and as Dole is a small place with most of the lodges closed, we thought will start walking slowly as it was only 4 hours walk to Machermo. So after more coffee, hot water and Diamox was feeling much better and excited. Took some more pictures and started the steep climb up the first hill. It took everything out of me just to climb this small hill and after that the path was similar to yesterday’s, covered with trees and patches of slippery ice. From here on I fell on my bum 3 times while trying to cross the iced patched path.
Each time I had tried to balance myself, put a leg forward, my back leg used to slip on the ice and I was landing on my bum with a big thud. My guide could not help laughing, but he was also feeling bad. I tried not to pull him down along with me as he was carrying my bag, but after 3 hard landings I was running out of air.
After climbing, skidding, falling getting up and walking again for another 30 min, I was feeling completely exhausted and breathing was becoming more difficulty. Slowly started getting a terrible headache and vision was getting a bit blurry. My guide asked to stop and took a close look at me, lucky for me, he was trained to check for symptoms of AMS and he declared that I was in no shape to go further and that we need to loose altitude fast.
I agreed and just when I got up to turn around, felt the whole world around me spinning and spinning fast. I was about to collapse when my guide held me, took my small backpack off me, started rubbing my back and forcing some hot water down my throat. As soon as my condition stabilized and I was able to stand up, my guide took all the bags and started guiding me downwards. We started walking down excruciatingly slow, all the while my guide carrying all the bags on his shoulder and holding me while walking down. We reached back to Dole and after having some more garlic soup found that my condition did not improve much. So it was decided that we need to go further down as quickly as possible.
The hot liquids gulped down started taking affect as we walked for another 1 hr 30min, going down towards Phorte Tenga.
By the time we reached the fork I was feeling much better so we stopped for lunch at the lone lodge at this fork. I wasn’t feeling to eat anything so tried to gulp more water with some biscuits. But after some time I vomited everything out and my guide got worried, since there was no medical help around. But there was another problem, we were in a valley and to go anywhere else meant climbing up mountains gaining altitude. We stopped for some 15 min and I gathered my thoughts, decided to take the risk and climb till Mong-La which was a small climb and then from there if situation gets worse might hire a horse or something to go down till Khumjung
where there was a hospital.
We started walking again all the while my guide carrying the bags and helping me with each step. Soon I got into the rhythm and was able to walk without any support; the sun came out on this side and started feeling better. We kept talking all the while, trying to crack jokes on my falling down and soon reached the top at Mong-la. Again my head started spinning here and breathing getting difficult, but was able to walk so we decided to continue towards Kumjung. It was already 2:30pm when we crossed Mong-la, walking down the slopes. After some 30min I started feeling better and better as we lost altitude and my guide mentioned that the smile was coming back on my face.
If I came back in one piece, all the credit goes to my good friend and guide Monik.
He took care of me all the way, knew exactly what to look for AMS symptoms, was trained on providing first aid and had the stamina to carry all the bags and me down. I owe my life to him. We started joking further on our way down, met a few trekkers who were going up to Monga-la for night camp. They felt sorry for me after hearing my tale on getting AMS and turning back.
Without realizing soon we reached the fork towards Namche, Khumjung and path towards Everest base camp. I was feeling much much better now, but was too damn tired, legs were wobbly due to the long walk the whole day, time was 4:30pm. We stopped at a lodge near this fork but it was not available so decided to move to Khumjung which was like 30 min walk. This was much better path as it had proper pathway and stone stairs and more importantly I was feeling better and better as time passed.
By the time we reached Khumjung, pain in my legs, back took my mind off AMS and just had a slight headache. We found out a small lodge where I was the only tourist and I got into my room and crashed. Took a small nap for an hour and was back down for some evening tea. By this time all the symptoms of AMS had disappeared, my head was clear and was enjoying the tea with some snacks.
Soon a monk visited this lodge and started talking to him, came to know that he had stayed in India, at a Tibetan settlement near Mysore, Bylakuppe. I had visited this place and we started talking about all the monasteries in Bylakuppe which are replicas of the original monasteries in Tibet. When I mentioned that I had visited Tibet couple of years back his eyes lightened up, lodge owners family too gathered around and started asking a few things on how Tibet was, how I felt after going there etc etc.
We kept talking almost till 8pm and I had forgotten all about the day, the critical condition I was in after Dole, the long hard walk down the mountains and the close call that I had. Talking with the monk and the local people helped to such an extent that I got my appetite back and was feeling really hungry. The lodge owners were quite happy too as was talking with them in Hindi, Indian language which most Nepal spoke. The monk spoke Hindi language very well and was able to translate some of them back to the lodge owners when they did not understand.
Dinner was the best at this place as I had become so friendly with everyone around, they treated me with the best Dal-bhat I had during all my days in Nepal. They also served me some tomato pickles which were the best I had tasted anywhere.
I was forced to eat more by the owner lady, just to ensure that I get my strength back, my guide had told them about our close call with AMS today.
After dinner we chatted some more about politics in Nepal, relationship with India and China, troubles faced by the mountain people in Nepal, did not realize it was 9:30pm. This was the longest day of my stay in Nepal, had not stayed this late any other time. So finally bid goodnight to everyone and off to my room, with full stomach and a light head.
This was by far the most active day of my trek, but still in the evening was feeling extremely satisfied and happy.