we were awoken at the crack of dawn (5am) to sunny skies. hallelujah! we immediately crossed over the now frozen stream out front, and hiked through the new snow, up about 500 feet to the viewpoint. at last, there were the mountains, in all their glory. but my camera wasn't working. all my batteries, including an unused set, were dead. it turns out that batteries don't work in this level of cold, something i didn't know. darcy started rubbing my batteries in his hands and revived them long enough that i could get a few shots. we were up there amongst the tibetan prayer flags for about an hour watching the sun rise along the mountain range.
back down we went for breakfast, then out for a day trek into the surrounding area. the clouds were already rolling in, but we still had some mountain views. our guide and a few porters showed the aussies how to build a snowman, and we played cricket (i just pretended it was baseball) with snowballs and our bamboo walking sticks. snowball fights occasionally broke out. it was all very wholesome. inspite of my episode in the middle of the night, i was feeling pretty confident now about my ability to survive the whole trek, if only the weather would let us through. while we would ultimately be going 3000 feet higher, we wouldn't be spending the night much higher than we were now.
on the way back we stopped by a large house, consisting of little more than a lot of rocks piled on top of one another and a tin roof with rocks piled on top of that to keep it from blowing off. here we met a local woman and her new puppy. sitting on a yak skin in front of the house, the woman played a game with the pup in her lap. she'd let a large phlegmy lughi dangle from her mouth. this would drive the spit hating pup mad with rage. barking wildly, he'd suddenly leap up and try to eat her lughi, at which point the woman would suck the lughi back up into her mouth. occasionally the dog would triumpth and end up snatching a bit of the lughi before the woman could suck it all back. inexplicably, darcy and the bodily function loving aussies sat and watched this for a good 20 minutes. so this is how mountain people entertain themselves i thought. i was suddenly feeling nauseated again.
the rest of the day was spent loitering around the campsite, feeling cold, and swapping trekking/altitude sickness stories with other trekkers. the good natured aussies actually managed to find an irishman they despised (with good reason), and we all spend a good deal of time mocking him. eventually darcy took pity on us and said he'd sneak us into to caretakers place (he was out for a few hours) where we could warm ourselves by the fire. somehow the guides are always huddled around a fire somewhere, whereas the trekkers are left exposed. but at last this would be remedied! we piled in and huddled around the smoky stove. darcy muttered something about us not leaving the room, as no one was supposed to know we were there, and that he would need to lock the door. he was gone before the full implications of this sunk in. at first it was pleasant enough, but then all of a sudden the room was filled with smoke, as chimney technology hadn't made it's way up here yet. suddenly we were all having a bit of trouble breathing. trish began to panic. she tried the locked door, then pounded on it and called for darcy. no one came. fortunately i was able to get the window open and we all piled out. darcy came by and calmly apologized for trying to kill us. for the next few days, i would smell like rhododendron smoke, which, i suppose it better than what i was starting to smell like on my own. no shower for 4 days now. yuck.
we settled in for another freezing night.