October 27, 2011 found us awakening to a beautiful sunny day with no wind. Fantastic- what a gorgeous campsite. It had cleared up overnight but was quite cold last night after the gale force winds that blew in as we were just going to sleep. Our mission today was to trek from Tshelu Tshokha Ya la to Bachu approximately 15 km or seven hours away. Today was a very strenuous trek day. We started with an uphill pitch (what a surprise) which brought us along the shores of Tshelu Tshokha Lake. This is a very picturesque lake which is surrounded by a huge rock wall. On one side of the lake there are erected pillars for making offerings to a deity Akhoe Gyem (a Bon practice). Apparently during the months of September through to October many pilgrims from Haa and the Paro region trek here to make their annual offerings. It was a perfect place to put up some of the prayer flags we had purchased in Thimphu. We did not see any blue sheep on the nearby rocky slopes. Too bad. Prayer flags are often placed on the top of mountain passes, over bridges and streams so that the prayers can be blown or carried by the water far down from their origin in order to spread the prayer message-such a lovely concept.
Bev was relatively ill last night with gastrointestinal symptoms and was vomiting. She was well taken care of by the staff. They really watch out for you here. She was quite weak so for the steep pitch up from Tshelu Tshokha lake they provided a mule to assist her. What service! I think the rest of us were a little bit jealous that we had to hike up the very steep and rocky pitch. They placed her looking backwards at times on the mule which was apparently a better position for the rider and mule alike.
Her husband Dave also had some gastrointestinal symptoms but these were starting to settle. Nothing infectious which was reassuring. I developed an irritated cough but nothing serious. I think it was more annoying to the other trek participants more than anything. Lorraine and Jill are quite sure I have some underlying tuberculosis. Ha! One thing you learn in life is that sometimes hard work is rewarded. When we reached Gompa Teng at 4356 m we were were rewarded with a clear view of 4 snow capped Himalayan peaks off in the distance. What a moment. We were able to view Mount Jhumolhari as well as Mount Kanchen Jonga. I cannot remember the names of the other two peaks. We were given yak cheese at the top which was very hard and stayed that way.
We then descended along a very steep, snowy series of switchbacks through rugged rocky trails to get to Gor Tsho 4130 m, another beautiful lake where we had lunch and more spectacular views of Mount Jhumolhari and then continued to descend until we reached a stream. Looking back at the switchback we were all amazed that we had actually come down it. We renamed it the Khumbu ice field II- it looked every bit as treacherous. The trail then gradually ascended along the stream and after crossing it on the right there was another steep uphill path leading to Bache Dingkha 4325 m. At this point Bev was placed back on the mule to have a leisurely ride into camp. The staff had gone ahead to set up camp and actually brought one mule back up the very steep pitch so that she could be assisted. We continued to be amazed with their commitment to our comfort and safety. We then continued to hike for another 90 minutes to reach our next camp at Bachu 4135 m. This was another big trekking day- I think everyone felt this day with so many height gains and losses.