Journal Entry from 11/8/09, written in Deboche, Khumbu region, Nepal

There’s frost everywhere. It crunches on my tent as I peel back the fly, crusts around the inner edge of the water bottle I kept in my tent last night, coats the grass outside like a thin layer of snow. My breath is solid as it exists my mouth, even in the lodge dining room where I sit writing. Three Nepali men are huddled around a sputtering potbelly stove. They crouch over cups of tea as the hissing yak dung slowly begins to burn.

In this cold morning light still pale on the Himalaya, every dark rocky rib and ridge of Ama Dablam’s peak is defined.

A pony wandered into or camp early this morning before the dawn had yet begun to grow. I was woken suddenly from a thin but cozy sleep by the tinkling of the pony’s bell. Had I not been caught half-awake in my sleepy stupor, I might’ve poked my head into the frigid are and seen its hardy little body illuminated by the glow of the moon in the backdrop of the mountains.

Special things happen when you ascend in altitude. Perhaps it is because so few people inhabit or ever experience these high places. It is as though the worlds so far above the common ground of sea level take on a special glow. The air breathes clearer, the sun shines more brightly. In the absence of abundant wildlife, every sound carries in it a crisp and distinct quality that often gets muffled among the many noises in lower, more hospitable lands. The open expansiveness of the mostly-barren landscape give me the feeling that I am witnessing a land, a life, truly authentic, as though simply by my being here, it is being seen for the first time.

After tea yesterday afternoon, I wandered back up the dusty stone step trail to Tengboche. The snaking rhododendron branches and leaves glowed silver in the fading evening light. The forest was quiet–a perfect, peaceful silence broken only by the sound of a distant pony bell, the labored breathing of a porter as he hoofed his burden past me. In the open village yard of Tengboche, I watched Buddhist monks in rich burgundy robes throw a blue plastic frisbee. Thick, white mist swirled through the valley and across the surrounding peaks. Every so often a ragged pink ridge would reveal itself, otherwise the mountains were silently elusive, veiled in a shifting sea of white vapor.

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