12 days after departing from Austin, 7 days on the trail, and we’re nice and warm in Chukung. Tomorrow we will trek up to Imja and begin our fieldwork. We’ll spend the next 17 days there working on the glacier and the lake. Halfway through we’ll take a rest day back here in Chuking to recharge our energy reserves at the slightly lower elevation and enjoy a nice night’s sleep in the lodge. As long as the wifi is still working here, I’ll try to post a slew of updates on our progress!
This morning we were greeted by clear skies, which were quickly overtaken by clouds coming up the valley. I took advantage of the nice weather to make my last call to Leigh. Making calls from Dingboche consists of wandering around until the No Service changes to two bars of service. The call drops a couple times, but with a little bit of wandering and another 10 tries dialing, you can usually get reconnected. All things considered, I’m just incredibly happy that the calls go through as these are daily highlights and will be missed in the field as we’ll be completely off the grid.
The trek to Chukung at just over 4700 m is relatively short and we completed it in just over 2 hours. After a nice lunch of fried rice, the clouds turned into thick fog making it hard to see further than 100 m. The fog made things a bit chillier than past days, but we’re all well prepared to handle the cold with our layers of fleece and down jackets. Fortunately the dining area of the lodge has a nice fire going as they burn yak chips. Yak chips are simply made of dried yak dung. They dry the yak dung on large rocks and stones in the fields and then use it as a substitute for wood, thereby limiting the degradation of the local terrain! It’s got a little sweet scent and provides some wonderful warmth. I’ll enjoy the warmth of the fire today, as tomorrow it will be the warmth of our sleeping bags! We’re all feeling strong and ready to go – fieldwork here we come!