The ride to Phredi from Manang is about 80 percent rideable in lower altitude but the thin air and hard work of riding single track here left us pushing our bikes more than we would like. We have left the Jeep trail behind. I start pedaling up short rugged hills and find the effort too draining. Our bikes have been holding up well. JR has had a raspy cough the last few days but the rest of us are all healthy.
We had Gangapurna and a host of other white glaciered mountains to view over the hills and valleys along our route.
We arrived in Phredi tired and sweaty but found a restaurant to drink tea in while we waited for our bags. JR was not in yet and Michelle reported that he was in a bad way, struggling mightily with that wheezy productive cough, big work day, and lack of oxygen. When he arrived he looked and sounded terrible. I am very worried. I tried to direct him to a warm comfortable position but in typical JR fashion he was having none of it. He’s tough.
As I had passed by the stone courtyard outside of the restaurant earlier after our arrival I had said hello to a forty something short-bearded intelligent looking man who then asked if I was part of the cycling group. I, of course, still had my cycling clothes on. We engaged in a conversation about high altitude edemas and other altitude problems. It turned out that I was speaking to a Doctor with two months experience at the High Altitude Rescue Center for altitude sickness here in Nepal (I’ve forgotten the official name). He is also an emergency doc in Ireland, his home. He and his wife are here trekking. I saw him again now in the restaurant and explained JR’s symptoms. He asked if he could see him. JR was now in his tent. After a brief exam and discussion the doctor laid out what he saw and his recommendations. He must go down. Immediately. JR spent his career as an emergency nurse and saw that he was in self-denial. He agreed to go down. We made arrangements for him to go with a porter as far as Manang, catch a Jeep back to Besishar and then a bus to Pokhara. His bike trip is over.
We will miss JR tremendously – he has, as always, been a big part of the lifeblood of this group.
There are very few flat tenting places in this high country. The one we did find was too small for four tents plus a cooking tent so two of us took a room. We were in the low rent area of this high camp primitive guest house since we were not eating in the restaurant. The owner makes his money on food. There was at least one Himalayan rat scurrying around making various noises and late in the night the whisp of bat wings overhead. Ah, the delights of adventure traveling. We will be up at 4am for our huge day over the pass.
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