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Day 20. How it all works (September 21, 2010)

The way to base camp from Gorakshep.Well, this is me reporting from base camp... Again!?! Expeditions are many things and one them is just plain and simply boring.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy being here but right now we are at the mercy of the weather. Mark De Keyser at weather4expeditions.com has been unerringly accurate in his predictions. Yesterday, in an email, he mentioned that we would be experiencing 'monsoon-like' weather patterns. There is some hope later in the week, but for now we all just sigh and go about our business - whatever limited business any of us have.

I now know why mountaineers are more philosophical than polar travelers. They have more time.

I used up most of my morning sending video in to webexpeditions HQ but had the afternoon free. I thought I would get out and stretch my legs on a hike to Gorakshep. Chhering, ever wary of my personal well being, suggested Dawa and Passang go with me.

A few hours earlier Passang had asked if I would copy some music onto his phone. 'I like pop and rap,' he said. Then refining his preferences further he asked, 'Brittany?' 'Unfortunately, no Brittany,' I replied.

The 'boys' as Tshering calls our Sherpas are a happy group. Two days ago, they were standing in a circle dancing to an Indian hip hop song. All were giving it their full emotion and zeal, most especially Dawa, who is also a monk. I had to smile.

Anyway, I managed to sneak out of camp before anyone noticed and set off for Gorakshep. I was glad for the time alone as well as the opportunity to just walk without stress, fatigue, fear or shortness of breath. I noticed rocks, flowers, small glacial lakes - things I hadn't seen on my way up.

One of my favorite things is the trip back over a portage (a trail connecting lakes) to get a second load of gear. It is a temporary relief from the hard work of carrying and it always seems like a new world is opening up before my eyes.

As I hiked, I let my mind wander. I thought about different places that I know well Colorado, northern Minnesota, Antarctica. During one fall of living in northern Wisconsin many years ago, I would go for hikes every evening. After weeks of this routine, I began to recognize trees, stumps, and in certain places, even blades of grass.

I realized (not for the first time) that one of the reasons I do what I do is that I simply like to be outside.

I arrived in Gorakshep and ordered a Coke. I stared out the window for 45 minutes at the rain, and when finished, put my hat and jacket on and headed up the trail to base camp. A particularly bold pika captured my attention for a few minutes. Then it was gone.

I smiled and said hi to the same trekkers who I had passed on the way down (them at the time on their way to base camp). One older woman, Australian perhaps smiled back and said, 'You'll get some amazing pictures up there.'

'I hope so,' I replied.

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