After a good night’s sleep, we were greeted with the warm glow of the sun shining onto the mountains outside our window. It was still very, very cold, but we’re starting to get accustomed to this. Freezing cold in the morning (literally, the water pipes would freeze), sweating beads while trekking and freezing cold in the evening before cuddling up into our sleeping bags.
Today we’re headed out to Lake Tilicho, the supposed highest lake in the world! While packing our stuff, we went to gather our clothes that we left out on the clothesline to dry. The day before, I managed to wash one pair of socks, but as the water was freeeeezing cold I couldn’t muster up the strength to wash Jiajia’s socks, but we hung both pairs up to dry. By morning, my wet socks have turned into a pair of sock-popscicles, while Jiajia’s socks were GONE! SOME ONE STOLE HER SOCKS WTF? Granted, they were comfy merino wool socks, but we think the thief is in for a big surprise when he pulls it out of his/her pack and realize it ain’t smelling right =P
The trek up until lunch was not too difficult, but Jiajia was somehow very tired despite not feeling tired at all (doesn’t make sense to me). Walking with us was all sorts of people, and we were definitely the least fit. We met this guy who was walking at a pretty fast pace, and we noticed he had weights on his ankles, and when we asked him about it he responds in a thick Slavic accent “Yeah, weights on my ankles and knees.” Respect.
After lunch, we started getting deeper into the mountains. From afar, you can sort of make out the road which lines the side of the mountain, but until you actually get there you don’t realize how fucking scary it was….. The trail was pretty normal, dusty and two wrong steps from tumbling down the side of the mountain, but there was probably enough shrubs to give you a handle in case you actually do fall. This time, it was totally different.
It first started with a sign saying “Landslide Area”, but we probably would just call it the Death Zone. Cut into the side of the mountain was a ‘trail’ wide enough for you to place about both feet side by side, but anything more you’d be sliding down the side. Looking down towards the left, was about a 2km slide down towards the bottom of the valley with nothing but the silvery reflection of rocks and pebbles. There was nothing stopping you between the trail and the bottom of the riverbed…. Once you walk past this landslide area, you’d reach this 50degree slope down slippery gravel which slides directly into the side of the cliff!!! Oh, and we had to trek through about 4 of these things. To make things worst, you have traffic coming from both sides, but since the trail was so slim you had to straddle off towards the side in slippery gravel while others walk past.
For about 1.5hrs, we walked through that and tried to keep focused on the trail and not to the consequences that would come if you’d slip. I snuck a few peeks down into the abyss, and you can just feel your legs wobble from the sight of it…. Sorta like looking down from the CN tower through that glass floor, except there’s no glass and you’re one slip away from sliding right down….
Making it to Tilicho Base Camp, we were pretty darn glad we were in solid ground once again. Problem was there wasn’t any sun and it started snowing! It was FREEZING cold for about an hour before they finally lit up the stove, where we sat for the next 4hrs just dozing off before eating dinner and heading to bed. It’s a bit late at 8:15pm, since we have to wake up at 5am tomorrow to make the hike up!!!
Oh, and at the hotel huddled around the warm stove, we chatted up with a few other trekkers and compared next morning’s trek with the Ice Lake trek we took yesterday. After talking a bit, we realized, we didn’t actually see the Ice Lake! The actual ice lake was 500m past the lake we assumed to be the Ice Lake!!! At first we just saw a Buddhist stupa past the lake we saw, so we ignored it…. hahaha, what a joke =P