We pushed through to the village of Upper Sinuwa, where we spent a cold and rainy night. I wrote a few questions to prepare for the interview I had scheduled when the trek ended, but mostly found myself in conversation. I exchanged stories with an older Canadian couple, the German mother and daughter, and a group of Koreans, who were trekking independently and looking for advice from our guides.
Koreans have a reputation as total outdoors nuts—huge hikers. I was interested in the group, since I had yet to meet any Koreans on my travels, but ultimately, I was a little too tired to get into it with them — especially as their English skills weren’t the best. I ate my dinner, had a pot of tea, and excused myself early.
I was probably in bed by 8 o’clock.
In the morning I awoke to find amazing views outside our window. I was starting to get used to this—we’d trek into the lodge late in the afternoon, in a light rainstorm, or at least under heavy cloud cover. The sun would set, and we’d awake to a crystal-clear morning, usually with one or more 8,000 meter peaks visible from our breakfast table.
That is a real benefit of trekking with a guide—they knew the best spots to stop, for the best views. If I was trekking independently, as I’d planned, I doubted I would have had half of those amazing breakfast views. There’s nothing like drinking your coffee in the brisk morning air, gazing out at one of the world’s most magnificent peaks. Instant coffee actually tastes good, there.
We had our breakfast outside, where we met the lodge’s pony. Many of the lodges up here offered pony service — basically a very expensive taxi for trekkers too exhausted to continue walking. With rates of $100-$200 per ride, just using the pony service once could potentially double your costs for the whole trip. I imagined it was a lightly-used service, but lucrative. The lodge made enough money to feed to horses at least. This particular pony was quite friendly — we caught him trying to steal food from our plates more than once. Perhaps that was how the lodge saved money on the pony: they charged guests for breakfasts which ended up being fed to the horse. He did walk away from his morning begging with a few apple cores, some leftover eggs, and plenty of pats.
“I’ve never seen a horse with so much personality,” someone remarked.
We moved away from Upper Sinuwa and began our climb in earnest. From here until we reached ABC, it was only up.