“Lori! Lori! Bad dreams?” It’s Abby, shushing me. My heart is pounding and I’m having trouble breathing. “I’m so sorry. Yes. Nightmares…” Marlies and Sophie tap on the wall. “Are you okay?” Abby explains I’m having bad dreams but all’s okay. I hear the Israeli boys on the other side of us, also up now.
I return to sleep. This time haunted by a man with a gun who’s trapped me. This is going to be a long night…
We leave at 5:15 am, the only thing visible is our eyes. We have layers of thermals, fleece, jackets, gloves, scarves, hats, and bandannas wrapped around our noses and mouths. Out headlamps shine brightly. It’s pitch black outside and we begin the 600 meter ascent to Thorong La Pass. It’s snowed during the night and there is a fresh dusting on the path. I concentrate on the path in the darkness, not daring to look to the right, where a steep cliff tumbles into oblivion. A couple of times I slip on the icy spots that haven’t seen sun. Why am I doing this? Oh, yes, I’m on vacation. This is to relax and get away from it all. I’m definitely away.
We reach a tea house half way up. The sun is rising, over the mountains and through the clouds. We’re in the clouds! It’s beautiful. Everything is shades of white, of blue. We continue the climb. It’s getting colder and windier. My toes are virtually frozen, as are my hands. I ball my hands up inside my mittens, trying to create heat. It only sort of works.
And we’re here! What we’ve been working towards for a week and a half – Thorong La Pass. It’s bitterly cold. We take a few obligatory photos, then begin the steep descent on the other side. I’m surprised by how steep it is.
About 30 minutes over the pass I develop a massive headache, accompanied by waves of nausea. I know I need to drink more water, but I just can’t make myself do it. It’s too cold. I take a handful of Advil and continue downwards.
As the morning wears on, I feel myself growing weaker. I know I should eat something – I have crackers, cookies, candy and energy bars in my bag – but I just can’t. The nausea is too much. About every 45 minutes I tell Min I need to rest, I’m not feeling well.
We arrive to Muktinath around 1 pm. As Min puts me in my room, he says, “I’m so hungry! Let’s eat!” “Min,” I say, fighting the waves of nausea, “I don’t feel well. That’s why we had to stop so many times on the way here. I’m going to rest.” “You don’t feel well?” he asks, genuinely surprised. The miscommunication is killing me.