It is surprising that I have not noticed the smell of anyone in the crowded dining rooms at the trekking lodges, because personal hygiene is challenging while trekking.  This has been brought home to us at Gorak Shep,  where there is so little water that none of the lodges offer showers.

Most of the lodges at lower elevations do have showers heated by gas from cylinders, usually for about $6, similar to the cost of a room.  For that fee you generally receive a trickle of water that fluctuates wildly in temperature as you adjust the flame or the flow rate.

Other forms of personal hygiene present their own hurdles.  For instance, a basin with a mirror is a rare sight.  It also takes some commitment to shave in icy water when the air temperature is near freezing.  As a consequence, many of the tourists are growing beards.

It is risky to consume the tap water in any of the trekking lodges, so it is always necessary to treat it or purchase bottled water for tooth brushing or drinking.  We have consistently treated our own water, but there is so little water available in Gorak Shep that we have been compelled to purchase it.

Washing laundry is also difficult to do, because of the cool temperatures and limited access to basins and drying lines.  We often climb into our cold sleeping bags wearing the  clothes we have been walking in.

It is now three days since we have been able to shower, six days since we did laundry, and a week since we shaved.  As a result we and our clothes are becoming increasingly dirty, to the point that we are feeling a bit uncomfortable.  We are hoping for at least a shower at tomorrow night’s accommodation.

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