Sand Trap


This blog entry about the events of Saturday, October 16, 2004 was originally posted on October 23, 2004.

DAY 364:  I woke up in Pheriche feeling good.  I suppose when you are awake walking around, it is better than actually sleeping alone in a cold, claustrophobic room.

Before eight o’clock, all the trekking groups and individual hikers were all set to trek on — except for Brazilian George who had developed a painful altitude headache.  He bailed and decided to take the extra recommended rest day.

George, like me, wasn’t part of one of the many package trekking groups, but was a solo trekker with a personal guide — often considered advantageous because you don’t have to worry about going too fast for others, or too slow for that matter.  There were people on the trail completely solo though (sans guide) — one particular one that stood out was the European(?) who went up in just his boots and underwear, despite the frigid morning air.  Needless to say, he caught the attention he probably wanted from passersby.

That guy better not take my idea! I thought.  For an even more memorable birthday on Everest, I was planning to go streaking around Everest Base Camp in my “birthday suit” and maybe sell the tape to Real TV.

Tilak and I kept a steady pace; no matter that others were passing us in the tundra-like environment — hence the advantage of not being in a big group.  The trail ascended a steady hill for about an hour up to the top of a ridge with these piles of stones everywhere, down to a valley bridge over the river and then back up on a path that ebbed and flowed with the landscape.  We walked through the desert conditions and eventually to the halfway point at the village of Thukla at 4620m. ASL. 

“Do you want to have lunch now?” my guide asked me.

Lunch now?  It’s only ten o’clock; we just had breakfast two hours ago.  “No, I’m good, let just keep on going.”  Everyday on the trek so far, we’d stop at the mid-point for lunch.  The mid-point always came around ten, ten thirty, just after breakfast.  Himalayan Glacier only provided the three meals, which meant I wouldn’t get to eat anything until nightfall if I took lunch right then.

The second half of the day’s trek was harder this day though, and for a second I thought maybe I should have stopped for something.  The late morning trek involved going up and down an undulating ridge of many hills (picture above).  Each time we cleared a hill I expected to see our destination, the village of Lobouche, but it was always another hill.  “No, the next one,” Tilak would say.  No matter, I took my time, and at least I wasn’t suffering from a headache or totally exhausted like one Sherpa porter we saw.

We made it to Lobouche (4940m. ASL) near the Khumbu Glacier by around 1:30, which was a little on the late side; all private rooms in the town lodges had been booked already by faster trekkers or by package groups, and I had to settle for the dorm room in one lodge — which was a big double bunk bed where 4-6 people had to share each level.  The rest of the private rooms were already taken up by a big British tour group, whose Nepali leader thought I too was a Nepali.  He had just served them slices of fried SPAM, something they didn’t know what what it was, but raved about.

“WHAT ARE THE HORSES FOR?” I asked Tilak as we did a short acclimatization trek that afternoon to and from the top of a nearby ridge that overlooked the famed Khumbu Glacier.  It would be our first major sight of accumulated snow.

“They are for the tourists to ride,” he told me.  Unlike horses I’d seen in every other country, the Nepalese horses didn’t seem to be used for everyday transportation or hard labor — that task went to the yaks. 

“You know I ate one of those.”


“Yeah.  In Japan.  Raw.

The Khumbu Glacier wasn’t much of a glacier in a traditional sense.  I expected it to be a big snowy expanse with glimmering white everywhere blinding us with the reflection of the sun, but it was more like a big giant golf course sand trap.  “Where’s the snow?” I asked.

“Not in this season.  Maybe [in January],” Tilak answered with a slight developing cough.

Without much of a show, we just hiked back down the ridge and back to the lodge.


“I should bring some home to my wife,” Greg the fifty-something Canadian said.  We were watching the guy at the lodge fill the heating stove in the center of the room with frozen yak dung chips — the environmentally-conscious fuel source in the area since we were above the tree line.  It didn’t smell like I thought it might, but that was mostly due because the smokestack rerouted most of it away.

Greg had made it to Lobouche after me, and therefore had to share the big bunk bed in the dorm with me.  With us on the top bunk was another young solo trekker (with a guide), Andres from Denmark, who had just finished some volunteer work in southeast Nepal.  When we got into another dinner computer conversation with Tilak — who had spent the past seven months not trek guiding, but attending a computer training course — Andres explained that yes, there does exist a downloadable pack from Microsoft so that one can write in Nepali Sanskrit. 

Greg, Andres and I climbed up the lone ladder to the big top bunk that night and it was sort of awkward having to climb over each other to go to the bathroom in the middle of then night.  With that and the farting, suddenly that cold, claustrophobic single room at the previous lodge looked a lot better.

Next entry: All For A Pun

Previous entry: Garlic Me

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Comments for “Sand Trap”

  • My favorite, farting in bed with strangers!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/23  at  05:11 PM

  • they didn’t know what SPAM was???

    if i ever climb everest i hope my guide is a computer nerd too!


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/23  at  06:13 PM

  • tjw- strangers?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/24  at  01:33 AM

  • BILL: OK, with everyone!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/24  at  04:17 AM

  • BILL / TJW:  *Pfffffffffrrrttt!* 

    (blame the fried SPAM)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/24  at  08:58 AM

  • ‘Us’ pic makes you look like a giant!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/24  at  06:09 PM

  • farts ARE funny!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/24  at  06:48 PM

  • that’s what i call a bonding moment! farting and spam. i guess they would feel right at home in hawaii. that must be the spam capital of the world.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/24  at  07:06 PM

  • Who remembers that Weird Al song?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/25  at  07:36 AM

  • The ‘desert conditions’ pic is AMAZING. All depth is nonexistent. Wonderful pics.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/25  at  06:01 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

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Next entry:
All For A Pun

Previous entry:
Garlic Me


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