I didn’t sleep well at Thule Kharka, mostly due to my cold, but we were also at 4320m so I think being so high so quick must have had an impact too and my sinuses felt really tight.
The trek to the loo in the night was not only cold but a long walk so I could certainly feel my head throbbing, which meant I hadn’t drunk enough water before going to bed and so the altitude was getting to me. Heading out in the cold was worth it though, the stars in the clear sky were amazing, and I even saw a shooting star. Magical, even with a throbbing head.
We left Thule Kharka at 8.30am with the sun shining, it was like a gorgeous alpine day with the snow on the ground.
The route took us around the side of the mountain over three small passes, which were fun to scramble up in the snow which had collected in the gulleys. At the last pass we finally got our first glimpse of Mera Peak – it’s massive!
The route down the mountainside to reach Gotay zigzagged through the scrub and rhododendrons and in the snow it was fairly slippy going, so quite slow.
We stopped half way down at a small lodge to have packed lunch, soup and hot lemon in the sunshine.
As we continued to head downwards into the woodland the mist had arisen from the valley floor and it was much colder. The path wasn’t entirely downhill as there were a few steep sections of uphill as we followed the river to Gotay, a sting in the tail of the day’s walk.
Out of the woodland the valley is really barren, caused by a flood in the upper Hinku Valley in 1998 – you can see where the flood ripped out the side of the valley wall, permanently scarring the landscape.
Gotay seemed eerie – its a large collection of lodges as this is the main meeting point of two routes to Mera Peak – the other route coming around the mountainside rather than over the Zatrwa La pass. But in December the lodges are all shut and we’re the only ones here – with one lodge opened specially for us.
At least my sinuses aren’t as sore here, and I’ve been able to blow my nose properly. Only 4 days into the trek and my nose is already really sore from blowing it – its not going to look pretty by the end of the trek!