After a wretched night I woke up still apprehensive. I couldn’t sleep because of my nerves, The random chickens scratching at our tent (I was hoping it was a chicken during the night!) and the hard uneven ground that was killing my back also didn’t help. How was I going to survive day two feeling so sleep deprived and crummy?
The day started slow and steady. We gradually worked upwards, and this section was quite shaded by trees. Thank god, because it was another hot day and the sun was brutal up here. Our snack stop in a clearing was obviously the place where every group refuelled, because from now on there was nowhere else to stop – it was all steps, rough hewn rock Incan steps, all the way up in a steep angle. With no trees. We were exposed to the heat of the day, in the steepest and hardest section of the whole trail. I won’t lie and say it was easy. Or even enjoyable. Because it wasn’t.
Every time we looked up, the pass looked so far. Every 5 steps we had to stop, to catch our breath. Why can’t I get a lungful of air into me? (Of course it was the altitude). I had tears in my eyes, I’ll freely admit it. I didn’t full on cry, but it was close. I sat with a few others who full on cried at times. It was a battle of body and mind. The curses that came out of my mouth these last few hours climbing up were the worst that ever came out of my mouth. I guess when I’m under pressure I swear like a sailor. Lol. Meanwhile Mr R was just giggling like crazy. I don’t know if it was altitude, but it was like he was on laughing gas. He kept laughing and giggling, and every time he stopped and looked up he just giggled. I can laugh about it now, but at the time I was thinking he was losing his mind. Lol
We finally made it to the top. This was the famous ‘dead women’s pass’. The feeling was amazing. No words will ever describe the feeling of that accomplishment. I now know why people risk their lives to climb Everest. This was like Everest for me, and it felt great to conquer it. From the depths of despair to a yelp of joy in an instant. After a few minutes of rest and photos it was time to head down, as the altitude was really affecting us all, and the sweat on our bodies cooled down very quickly.
Downhill was a breeze for me. While others struggled with their knees, I bounced down the huge rocky steps quickly. From near last coming up to first going down! Instantly my mood was lifted. I didn’t feel like the ‘loser’ anymore who could barely make it to the top. I think psychologically knowing that I had achieved the hardest part meant that finally I could relax and enjoy the rest of the hike.
Nearing dark we finally got to the camp. The worst of it was over. I had survived.