Waking up to another plate of the stodgiest, thickest pancakes ever doesn't really inspire me, nor anyone on the trip but we force it down with whatever sauces and sugars we can find. It might be the only thing we get for a while. I check on Joe and the poor chap is sweaty and stinky and looks as green as my socks.
Heading looking out on this early morning and Nir is there on the balconied courtyard in front of the tealodge smoking with Prem and a few of the guides and porters. Prem, the oddest bloke on the trek. Friendly and sometimes not understanding where you're at entirely but well meaning nonetheless.
We set off for another days trekking. I don't recognise the route through Namchee as we seemed to be taking a different route through the town. Suddenly we were out of the hilltown, going down that 800ft track which really took it out of most people coming up 12 days previous. Was it really 12 days? We've come to the last leg of our Himalayan adventure. By tomorrow night we'd be in a hotel room having a shower. I can't even really contemplate that, it is such a distant prospect, if anything like last night was to be endured. For the most part I knew that we were going downhill apart from the last section which was uphill, if I remember correctly. We passed the shop that Brooksie, Milo and I stopped at. Seeing familiar sights, sights which contain memories of the struggle to get up here. A strange and overwhelming sense of achievement comes over me in waves. I guess, yes, I have made it. All my worries about gambling with my condition suddenly melt away, all my fears about not making it. Not making it. Such a euphemism for those that didn't before us. Suddenly I felt more tired than I have ever felt in my short life. Still we have the long journey down, the endless zig-zagging down the dusty path. We lunch at Phakding where we have fishcakes. Rather disturbing as we are 100s if not 1000s of miles from he nearest coast. While waiting for the others to get there, I buy some trinkets for Mum and Aunty Janet from this Tibetan lady selling Tibetan jewellery. So I buy this pair of identical necklaces. Apparently they're Tibetan turquoise and not Nepali. To me, it looks like bits of molded plastic but as they only cost 800 rupees (£8) each, I think, 'Oh well, that's what they are in Accessorize'. Probably. )
The many river crossings that we took on the way up here, following the river, each one closer to Lukla. All the time going downhill, easier. We start going uphill and things are getting exciting - this is the last leg of the journey.
The group I'm in are in a long line, we sometimes see the leaders on the other side of a ravine so we can gauge their reaction every time they reach the next bend before they disappear round it. Slogging on we watch them closely, sometimes being given an update by James Pieterzoon, comedy banter over the airwaves building as we get closer. I turn a corner, squinting through the setting sun, to see an arch. I remember only walking through one arch, the one arch that signalled the start of the Himalayan trek. Could it be? Could it be the arch that signals the end of our Himalayan trek? I see the others get there and they jump up and down in excitement. Joy of joys. About 10 minutes later we get there and someone radios the other groups behind us that we have made it. We have made it. Fuck. I want to drop. Lukla is a bit hazy to me and I don't really notice much about it. I just want to sleep.
Going to the very first teahouse that we had breakfast in so many days ago I organise a room with Moulinex (Nick 'The Blender' Mullineux) who reputedly has the smelliest feet on the trip. Yes, reputation intact. He does. I really don't notice or mind. My body won't stop shivering. I can't move. I know that there is a Marathon in my jacket pocket hanging up on the door but I really can't move. I sleep.