Day 4 – Oct 13 – Unscheduled acclimatization day

Marcia and I both had digestive problems during the night at our campsite, ironically named Rechi. Mine seemed to be routine reactions to a change in food, but Marcia had the more serious problem of nausea, one of the symptoms of minor altitude sickness. We got up and had breakfast, though neither of us had much enthusiasm for it.

The morning’s trail was only 2 hours, though it seemed longer because of the continued climbing and descending to avoid outcroppings. Finally we reached a monastery and boarding school, where the children were lining up for outdoor activities. 15 minutes later we reached our lunch spot, a traditional Tibetan medicine clinic built by the government to keep the art alive. Marcia and I took naps waiting for our lunch.

I spoke with our guide Kinna and we agreed to spend the night here at the elevation of 3100. If we had followed our plan of climbing to Phoksumdo Lake at 3600 meters, we ran the risk of turning Marcia’s minor symptoms into more serious forms of altitude sickness including cerebral and pulmonary edema, which are life-threatening. The only cure for those is immediate descent, which would mean an end to our trip. We had plenty of time, so we could just wait.

We are taking all the standard preventative measures. We are taking Diamox, which prevents and relieves both minor and severe altitude sickness. The locals swear by garlic soup, so we’re sipping that as well. And we are making sure to drink at least 3 liters of water per day. All of this means a lot of trips to the bathroom, but we hope it will make it possible to ascend tomorrow.

I was feeling pretty good after lunch and a short nap, so I took a few walks up and down the valley. It is much drier than even last night’s campsite, because it is in the rain shadow of two chains of 5000-meter peaks. The brush was almost desert-like and the weather spectacularly clear. Gone were the afternoon clouds that had been a daily occurrence further south.

We are spending the night in a room in a small lodge so that we can get a good night’s sleep and recover. It’s primitive but more comfortable than a tent.

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