Tibet postcard

[From October 2007.]

It’s one thing to get caught out, dizzying hunger barely walking speed chill darkness numb fingers sluggish attention navigation by the hint of the white line or the blackness change gradient indicating the side of the road, it’s one thing to get caught out close enough to home to crawl into a 7-11 or call AD to pick you up.  But something different on the other side of the world, had maybe a liter of water in the last six hours and, other than breakfast, there was the half package of cookies and the bag of raisins.  This, first day out of Lhasa, why not have it be a disaster right from go? Everyone rides to the base of the climb and does the Kamba La the second day, but it was so easy, even if I didn’t start until 11am nursing a bit of whisky cotton in my head and mouth (farewell party from new friends), why not press on?

4,700 meters and it’s pitch black, can’t or at least shouldn’t stay at the top, and I’m on the craved for zombie pilot, but able to conceptualize the danger and foolishness of it retrospectively.  Coasting down the switchbacks on the other side, finally wearing gloves over unfeeling fingers but who put them on? and there is moonlight and a spot from someone’s headlight, though I am thoroughly alone. The sway carve lean of the descent, the memory of being followed by that lawnmower/tractor hybrid so common here, that 13 year old girl who ran alongside then pushed me for 200 meters, hours ago.

Unable to fill in the details of the downhill beyond impressionistic strobes, I wake on the shore of Yamdrok in my sleeping bag in my tent well off the road, fully clothed including cycling shoes, with an empty package of oreo’s near my head.