I am not one for superlatives, for best or worst, most or least, because chances are pretty good that there is, there has been and will be more in my life, but my legs have never hurt so much. Never. Ever. They are so tight one could play them like fiddles but they just might be a little too high strung.
I cried today. The ups are hard; the downs make me cry. On some level, I knew that I would but was still surprised when the tears burst from my eyes. I almost sobbed on that last bit of down. Sobbed. Because it hurt that much.
With each and every step, I felt my knees threaten to give way. I wore braces. I wore both of my knee braces and they helped a little. They gave me more confidence, but they could only do so much with "steep and slippery" followed by more down, more up, more down. Even braced, my knees can only take so much. My joints are loose. They are are hypermobile. They pop out.
Shree promised a "Snickers" bit of up compared to yesterday's "chocolate cake," but that wasn't true. It wasn't true at all. We had three steep ups, maybe four, and we took the long way to get here. Five of us, the fast five (or the fast four plus me) came by way of Chomrong.
Chomrong isn't really part of this trek. It can be but we're staying lower (in Jhinu, near the hot springs). Chomrong's more on the way to Annapurna Base Camp. We stopped because it offered more of a village, shopping, and great views of the Annapurnas and Machupachare. At least, it does when it's clear.
Shopping consisted of a single table at the teahouse Shree picked, the Excellent View (not to be confused with Heavenly View, Summit View or Mountain View). The table bore Tibetan crafts not unlike the Tibetan crafts we've seen a hundred times over. The lemon ginger tea was good, though, and the masala thick with spice. Sitting was even better.
At one point on the trek, I started lifting each leg with my hands and pressing down on my thighs to push myself up the steps. Over and over and over again, I lifted and pressed, lifted and pressed and then we went down. That's when I cried.
My knees are bruised from the pressure, just pressure, the effort it takes to keep them in place. My calves and hamstrings feel tight enough to snap. I want to crawl into bed at 6:08 but have 22 minutes until dinner.
I skipped the hot springs, which might have been best give the 756 or steps between teahouse and there. A soak might have helped but the stairs would have killed me.
The morning was good, though, after the glorious sunrise at Panorama Point. Megan's altitude sickness and my loose joints meant we spent most of the day together with Javan glued to our side. Slowly, slowly. Bistari, bistari.
We stopped for tea in a high grassy meadow. We walked through farms. We crossed bridges. Namaste Stefan [read: Ramesh] held Gerry's hand as they slowly made their way down. Down, down, down.
Babies swung in makeshift hammocks high in the mountains when we sat down for lunch. They wouldn't stay put. Kids helped us find the toilets and water. Kids asked for candy (which I didn't have) and practiced their English (which I did). Cows blocked the path. Shree used my pole as a cattle prod.
Some of the steps jutted out from the walls. Some of the steps floated over nothing. I thought I was moving slowly (after my outburst) but one of the porters called down to me, "No need to hurry, hurry, chicken curry" as he fell behind with his group.
I envy the trekkers popping ibuprofen like candy; I wish I could take painkillers. I cannot believe this is almost over.