Our day today is relatively relaxed with a 4km hike covering an altitude increase of 300m to Chhukunk, which is predominantly a Tea House stop at a junction of trekking routes. Chhukung is our stepping off point for Island Peak where tomorrow the summit team will set off for Island Peak Base camp with the remaining Trekkers either trekking local trails and passes or just taking advantage of a rest day.
The route today followed a barren but picturesque valley and river at a steady incline with an unexpected cafe appearing half way providing a now staple and refreshing honey, lemon ginger tea.
Along the way we are again reminded of the realities of life without roads or any form of mechanized transportation when a man passes us carrying a huge piece of slate on his back and strapped around his forehead. There are no roads at all in this region of Nepal and haven’t been since we landed in Lukla.
We also trek through an abundance of fragrant Juniper bushes making the chefs in our party envious.
Our Tea House is one of the more comfortable we have encountered with truly spectacular views all around. Comfortable doesn’t extend to any heating, showers, toilets in the room or even sinks but it’s all relative. Behind us is the mighty Lhotse casting shadow over the valley. Nothing however can increase the temperature which at night is well below freezing. All the Turtles are feeling the cold and longing for the Caribbean sun.
Tonight those preparing to summit receive a final briefing from Sherpa Mingma ready to trek to Base camp tomorrow. The following day will be an ice climbing skills course followed by a trek to High Camp and then finally in the wee hours of the following morning the assault will commence.