The Node Bulletins : Number Seven
Kashmir, 26 July. My political knowledge is scanty, but I understand that we are now in the last of the ‘stans’, as I believe this area is under Pakistani administration. We emerged from our ordeal on the high pass minus our porters, who refused to go on. Now we are burdened with much equipment. However, Flatpole has been an example to the rest of us by carrying a hundredweight load on our twice-daily four-hour marches, without batting an eyelid.
Thoroughbrace amazed us today with his first show of initiative for some time. He disappeared for eight hours, returning with a vast chunk of meat which he claimed to have hacked from a tusked creature he found entombed in a glacier to the north of us. I believe we may be pioneers of a kind by having probably tasted mastodon flesh. It was quite good and a welcome change from Gannett’s usual efforts, which normally plumb progressively greater depths. Yesterday, when he left us briefly during preparation of the evening meal, I enlivened the repast by tearing up the cardboard cartons in which our spices had been packed, and adding them to the pot. Nobody commented.
Pugh’s pathfinding becomes increasingly esoteric. He now reckons that we must proceed down this valley then – I quote him: “Bear right across the top end of Mount Rakaposhi, go downwards over the flat bit and we shall find our goal just this side of K2.” I am no geographer, but I had expected more technical jargon from Pugh, who has not once mentioned map references during our trek. I was obliged to correct him again this morning, when he marched us due west, over an apparently limitless expanse of scree. I suspect his heart is not really in this expedition, as he has repeatedly tried to head us back towards London. I am considering relieving him of his duties.
Though I try to keep up morale, the bickering is incessant. It is lonely at the top.
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