Stanford Nepal Medical Project 2018 Pikey Peak Camping Trek
7th July 2018 Rest Day
The day greeted us with tents that made us feel like we were being cooked alive and deceptively blue skies. After two weeks of white walls made of fog, the sun provided some reprieve, albeit at first making our tents a nice little convection oven. But with the skies visible for the first time since we’ve arrived at Khamding, we packed our bags, loaded our water bottles, and headed back to Japre to try to a view of the all too elusive Mount Everest.
More likely than not, there’s probably a nice trail leading to the Japre monastery, but as Robert Frost would commend us, we decided (or rather, the sherpas decided) to take the road less traveled and scale the mountain side more or less vertically. Loose rocks became foot holds, the grass a rug to wipe our muddy feet; and we quickly came to remember the green moss on the ground that made slipping the fastest way to go back down the mountain.
About three-quarters of the way up, half of us—Natalie, Maddy, Daniel, and Jackie– decided to go back down; the elevation, empty stomachs, and dehydration made the trek disagreeable. With a promised “fifteen more minutes” until we would reach the top, Blanca, Joey, and I went up with only a faint sliver of hope that we would see Everest; with the clouds banking and those cotton candied cumulo nimbuses already obscuring our view of the top of the mountain we were on, stubbornness and the proximity of a toilet, more than anything, motivated us onwards and upwards.
Once we reached the top, the view did not disappoint. We had never had a view of the valleys so deep, the hills so green, nor the sky so breathtakingly blue. And though we could see the wall of fog covering our vista from right to left, the three of us told ourselves that the view was quite worth it. Plus, once there, we met a very small girl with a very small and very loyal cat—which she subsequently used to wipe a window. (note: the cat did not seem to mind, and I’m pretty sure I heard it pur as she did so) As the girl dug a hole, the cat climbed onto her back and found a nest in the nape of her neck; and the girl, not wanting to disturb her friend, walked in a very yoda-like fashion for the time being.
We met Arati and Rasheek at the top, and they, having woken up before 5am, did get to see Everest, and we got to live vicariously through their hot chai and photos.
For the next few hours, we ran clinic prep. And in complete honesty, I have no idea how those students made it through 5 straight days of 8 hours of lecture; I had to sit through a two hour lecture, and I struggled. Following lunch, we put what we learned into practice and went though patient histories and exams. Sans a common language, the sounds of “aaah” chorused in the room as we did mouth examinations. And on only a slightly related notes, the Americans on average have a heart rate 20 beats higher than those from here. Whether from their comparative fitness or the change in elevation, you can decide.
As expected, the preteen and teenage girls were attacked by a case of the giggles when we had to do stomach exams and present our patient histories. But on the whole, I have to say that there is a positive upwards trajectory of their progress and willingness to learn. The smallest girl participated the most whole-heartedly, but she did add some interesting tongue wiggling to the exam; and whether or not she actually heard anything through the stethoscope is debatable. But she was willing to participate, more so than a lot of the other students, and that was really cool to see!
Maddy and I took a nice little job up to Japre (since we found a much less steep ~paved~ route), and attributed our walk breaks to elevation and steep hills rather than a lack of muscular and cardiovascular endurance (again, up to debate).
Our day concluded as normal, with a long awaited and much anticipated hot and minty face towel and a long game of riddles provided by the computer engineers from their experience in interviews (my favorites being: given two non-identical ropes with irregular thickness that each burn for an hour, how would you measure 15 minutes?) But on the whole, the day gave us rest enough and excitement enough to prepare us for the next three hectic days of clinic.