Episode 010: All Signs Point to Everest
“One step at a time, boys”. It was so great to leave this morning and head back out on the road. Today’s driving brought us up to the top of Pang La Pass and some amazing views. We’re on the final stretch of road leading to our new home for the next month and a half. Not far out of Tingri we came across a lone road sign with a drawing of Everest on it and a large arrow pointing South. “Everest: This Way!” The sign marked the spur of road that heads into the restricted nature preserve that surrounds the great peak. As the Land Cruiser snaked up many switchbacks I have to admit I became a little overwhelmed with excitement. Or maybe it was just the fact that the altitude was making me a little dizzy. On top of Pang La Pass you get the privilege of looking at 4 8000 meter peaks all lined up in a row. Amazing. We spent some time filming up there and then drove on to a small town where we had lunch. Well, at least that was the plan. I have to admit, I do not feel well. When I’m excited or nervous, I tend to lose my appetite. The last couple of days in Tingri have been rough on my stomach and the altitude is making it even rougher. I have to force every single bite of food down my throat. I realized this was going to be tough, and I didn’t really want to give my dysentery much more ammo, so I basically tried to film lunch instead of eat lunch. I know Ben and Major are struggling as well, but Ben has the prior experience to know that things will get better. He’s done this before. Just have to give it a little time. At least my headaches are still with me so it takes some of the focus off the fire in my belly. So I’ve got that going for me…
Total Running Time: 21:01
Dispatch 10 April 13, 2003: On the Road
Waking for the second morning in a tiny room draped with pink cloth, I batted my eyes slowly to the window. The sun was up and I could already smell the burning embers of dung fuel wafting towards the door. It was not hard to part from Tingri, the last 36 hours have centered on avoiding the harsh smell. We were now more than ready to experience the last leg to our new home.
Driving today was an amazing experience. It is surreal weaving up and down switchbacks in an 80’s Toyota Land Cruiser at altitudes of 14,000’ underneath the majestic peaks of the Himalayas. We wear sunglasses everyday to filter the intense sunlight that is reflected by the fluted ridges and icy flanks. The beauty of these peaks is so enveloping that a filter only stimulates the eye to look longer, deeper into the heart of the youngest landscape on Earth and the highest of the world’s mountains.
We experienced more than scenery today. Driving afforded several opportunities to stop and “smell the roses” if you will. One stop saw us tailing goat herders, they were children probably not much older than six or seven. I gave them some granola bars for letting us get close enough to pet their goats.