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Down The Barun Valley

Dawa gave me an anti-inflammatory pill for my right knee, swollen after yesterday's efforts, to help me get through one of my least favourite parts of the trek, along the Barun river valley, with much of the time spent on walking on large rocks and rubble - bad country for ankles and knees.

The first part of the journey was quite pleasant, but then came the nasty bit on rocks. The latter seemed to go on forever, despite me being assisted by Dawa and/or Pemba. I remembered from the ascent stage that there was one part of the walk along the rocks where avalanche danger was very real. Two porters had been killed there last year. Because of the conditions underfoot, there is no quick way of getting out of the way.

Just then Dawa suddenly accelerated. I don't think I have ever seen him move quite so quickly. He glided over the tops of the rocks and then sat on a boulder. I eventually hobbled and fumbled my way over to him. "No need to ask you where the dangerous bit was, Dawa!"

Sherpa Dawa after doing his least favourite part of the trek

Sherpa Dawa - a much relieved man

My colleagues said these were Forget-me-nots, despite the colour When Steve passed over that same stretch, a number of large rocks tumbled down thirty yards in front of him, each rock big enough to cause fatal injury.

We were soon climbing through a steep but beautiful forest, where more and more of the rhododendrons were coming out to bloom, while we were passing clump after clump of blue forget-me-nots.

In the last part of the day we were back on snow again, as we began the long haul of approaching the Shipton La. In view of the constant rain, Dawa stopped us early beside an abandoned hut on a sloping piece of ground somewhere beyond Mumbuk, but before the first of the two passes.

Later in the evening more snow fell, making us anxious about getting through the Shipton La tomorrow.

Our minds have shifted focus from our all-to-brief time at high altitude to getting down safely - and in time for our flights home.

Rhododendron bushes and trees coming into full bloom

Next Crisis at Kauma Back Slippers Before The Snows