Moving on from Phakding, and what a beautiful day. Crisp, cool morning, and a t-shirt warm day (turns out this was the last week of warm weather that year – it snowed the week after). Many bridges to cross.One was suspended about 100 m above an old one, now left to decay. And so we walked across the river a few hundred meters up in the air. Why not. It’s not like people aren’t accustomed to high altitude. After lunch it was only one alternative: up the steps, a steep 2-3 hour climb (or back down to Phakding). Endless steps and turns and one Everest lookout point, and more uphill and turns. We passed many tourists huffing and puffing like us, and many passed us like they were on a Sunday stroll. Donkeys and dzos had right of way, and tired and worn as they were, we had to watch our backs and push them towards the center of the path so they did not squeeze us against the mountain wall or push us off the steep trail.
Poor animals. They placed their tiny feet on wobbly stones, one by one, and in some cases clearly straining from the weight of the packing (everything from cooking gas to tourist groups’ bags). They were beaten and pushed and cussed at. Little kids, who wanted to make their parents proud of their herding skills, whipped them with sticks as they passed a family house. These donkeys and dzos easily walk for 6 hours every day, covering much greater distances than we visitors, unused to the thin air. Every day, from the moment they are big enough to the moment they can no longer walk. I thought of their sad life every time I ate my dinner, which probably had been mostly carried up by one of them.
(Everest Base Camp Trail, Nepal; November 2016)