I’m up late, having slept poorly. There’s not far to go today, and I take my time in the morning – breakfast drags out to lazy packing; putting socks on takes three tries.
The moment I’m moving again, it all comes back. Downhill, acclimated, rested and healed, I’m flying. In one restless three-hour stint, I make Thame; thundering along behind a yak-train in the sunshine and the breeze.
Lunch is at noon, well below town; I have peanut butter and crackers on the trail. A waterfall roars, newly pregnant with last night’s rain; the stray droplets glimmer in the sunshine. The last rhododendrons droop in shame. Clouds boil, but they are far away.
Seven hours pass far too quickly; I roll into Namche smiling like an idiot, and sucking down great lungfuls of tangibly viscous air – dropping 1200 meters in one day no doubt helps. The midday sun reflects off the damp flagstone alleys; I charge into the Ama Dablam at four – hurdling the low parapet with my pack and terrifying a group of Koreans lounging on the porch.
It’s all the same preposterous mahogany dining room and carved wooden benches. Amma-ji laughs the same way she did last week. It’s the same potatoes for dinner, garnished with an egg. Grandma twirls the same prayer wheel, mumbling though her smile in the corner. But it’s all more saturated, richer, the texture deeper and the flavor heavier. Even Pnin is less pathetic on the second, flippant, read-through.
Fog rolls in at dusk. Sodium lamps come one; pools of yellow fight feebly against the dark. Monks come on the horns; the dull echoes flee their throats to crash against the stone walls.
I leave the window open and fall asleep between the silence and the roar.