Episode 138: Yaks In The Mist

Blame Canada. This morning we began the last phase of the Everest trek…the downhill portion. The views of the high peaks were absolutely stunning as we were setting out in the morning during the best weather of the day.

Indeed, these were the finest views we’ve had thus far on the trek because the weather pattern we’ve been experiencing for the past week held true. Sunny and clear in the morning and cloudy and questionable in the afternoon. We had a tremendous view of Nuptse for most of the day and since we were so close to the peak the forced perspective made it look like it was the tallest mountain on the planet. It really is a beautiful mountain.

Since we were back on the main trekking trail we came back into close contact with yak trains carrying supplies up to Gorak Shep and beyond. It has been a few days since we’ve been around these animals because you won’t find them walking up Kala Pattar and it’s mid-season so no trains were headed up to base camp. For a few years now I’ve thought about getting some cool point of view (POV) shots of the yaks from a super low angle as they negotiate the rocky trail. This year I had a very inexpensive HD video camera with me that was cheap enough to be classified as “expendable”. I figured it was time to experiment with putting the camera on the ground in the middle of the trail to see if I can get some yaks to walk over it. If they went a step further and actually stepped on the camera, so be it.

Fortunately for me there were a lot of yaks on the trail today so I was able to try for a nice POV shot every few minutes. I was hiking with Thilo for most of the day so we developed a routine to grab the shot. First we’d look for a train in the distance and take a seat on the trail. I’d take the camera out and Thilo would collect some stones for me to place around the camera. I’d try to position the camera near a large boulder and then Thilo and I would sit down across the trail from the boulder (wearing our bright red jackets) so that we could funnel the yaks between the rock and ourselves. It worked like a charm every time. I was able to grab a number of POV shots and not once did the camera get stepped on. Score!

As usual our group of trekkers split up into several smaller groups sorted by hiking speed. Thilo, Megan and I were somewhere in the middle of the line and the Wolfe’s, Steve Beatty, Monika and John Coleman were up front with Tendi. For some reason Steve Wolfe spent most of the day filming video of the hiking and providing a running monologue of commentary to the footage. Although I’m sure he’ll blame it on hypoxia later on, the majority of his commentary revolved around Canada, Canadians and canadian Steve Beatty’s preference for hiking over rocky trails instead of packed dirt trails.

I guess that’s better commentary than the internal dialogue I have, reciting the lyrics to the musical “Chess” with “One Night In Bangkok” over and over and over and over again. And again and again.

Hmm, now that I think of it maybe the international theme of our “ear worms” lends credence to the fact that Steve Wolfe and I may be long lost cousins.

The horror, the horror.

Jon Miller

Total Running Time: 34:23