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Kangchenjunga Trek - Day 20 Pang Pema to Kambachen

A very windy night meant that the tent flaps were beating around making lots of noise. It didn't help that I was worrying about the weather turning to snow which would have made our exit from the higher ground that much more hazardous.

Fortunately, it didn't arrive, but it was a very overcast day as we descended down the valley, covering in one day, what had taken two on the way up. There was an elusive patch of blue sky ahead which seemed to be getting further away from us all the time, so apart from a brief spot of sun for ten minutes at lunch, we didn't really see it all day. It's been more like a winter's day back home and I hope that we get better weather as we descend. But, at least it has been dry, and for that I am grateful.

The walk itself seemed a long way today as most of it was over rough ground. There was also the difficult bridge crossing just outside Lhonak and then the slopes of scree and land slippage. Rex advised us to look out for even the slightest fall of rock "even the small ones are lethal if they hit you" he warned. It was good advice. As Mark and I were clambering over the rocks at the bottom of the slope, my least favourite pastime, made worse by my stiff knees, I suddenly heard Mark shout "Move" and so I made a quick scramble to the far end of the rock fall. As I did so, a large rock which had dislodged itself from the scree, gathered its siblings and came crashing down behind us. This was a salutary reminder of the potential dangers of this terrain. Tenzi, our Sirdar, later told us, that two years ago six people had been killed in this area by rock falls.

The campsite at Kambachen was again in a lovely position looking at the mountains of Sobithonge and Jannu. By now I was cold and tired so decided to sit in the tent before the meal. I wrapped myself in the sleeping bag and started to read. I hadn't been there long when Mark shouted to me that there was a good sunset outside and I rushed out with my camera, steadying myself against a low wall, I managed to get a few shots of the fantastic yellow and amber light reflecting of the snow crested peaks. Although too low a light for further shots, I watched the silhouette of a large bird of prey circle effortlessly above. It appeared to be climbing higher and higher and, from the perspective I had, it looked as though it was circling up to the peak of Jannu itself. It was quite magical.

Its been over two weeks now since we started the trek and many of us are talking about what we will do when we get to Kathmandu. We should also be getting to Ghunsa tomorrow and I know some are looking forward to seeing local villagers and perhaps sampling some thomba (a local brew).

After the evening meal, Rex decided to cheer us all up by reading out some extracts from his medical text book on tropical medicine and diseases. For those of us who hadn't taken malaria tablets and had been attacked by mosquitoes at Biratanagar, we now knew what pleasures to look forward to if we developed malaria. However, so as not to discriminate or exclude the others from these wondrous revelations, Rex went on to explain about bed bugs, fleas, typhoid, cholera and a host of other worms that could infect us in this part of the world. As I climbed into my sleeping bag that night I wondered if those small spots on my ankles were the first signs of bubonic plague!

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