So the plan for the day was to wake up early and hike 3 hours to Phakding, meet the rest of the group, the 6 who slept there and the 7 who will be flying in by helicopter. Then hike 7 hours to Namche Bazar. A long day but one that puts us back on our schedule and erases all of the chaos of the previous day.
That was the plan and it worked.
Our crew woke at 5:30 for a breakfast of eggs and Nepali bread. Yum. We threw down a couple of cups of coffee and we were hiking by 6:15 AM.
The hike was great. It was on a busy road with constant yak and donkey traffic.
There were a bunch of cute dogs and an equal number of seriously mangey dogs (not photographed) on the trail.
Our crew hiked fast and made quick work of the 3 hour hike to Phakding. At one point I got quite a bit ahead of the group. I thought I was in second position but it turned out I was in front, way out in front. I came to a school with the name Phakding on it. So I figured I better stop. Saw a cool wild strawberry.
We passed some neat Mani stones, prayer wheels, earthquake damage, and a hydroelectric project.
The thin line in the background is a pipeline and you can trace it to the hydroelectric station at the bottom right.
water powered flour mill. earthquake damage
We crossed some cool bridges over some tall ravines and rivers.
We hooked up with the group at their hotel. Everyone was there. We had a second breakfast, like hobbits, and then started hiking. The hiking was along the Kumbu river. This is the glacier run off from the famous Kumbu ice falls that are just above Everest Basecamp. The traffic on the trail was intense, we were being passed in both directions by teams of mules and yaks. We stopped for lunch and had Dahl Bhat. What else?
Everyone was in high spirits. Our group had hiked three hours before meeting the other group and clicked off two and a half hours before lunch. Then Jim broke down the rest of the day. He informed us that the hiking we had done (which represented an ascent of 600 feet) was Nepalese flat, and that the afternoon was going to Nepalese steep. We had started the day in Lukla at 9,353 feet. Then we hiked down to Phakding at 8,689. Lunch was at 9,280, still below where we woke up that morning. After lunch we were going to climb from 9,280 to 11,320. The afternoon was going to hurt. This deflated the mood.
The afternoon delivered the pain. We did get to see a yak going in one direction on a bridge and run into a team of mules going the other direction. Very exciting. We saw another mule kick a boulder on a steep down hill that then started rolling down. The down hill mules moved fast to avoid getting hurt by the falling rocks.
We saw the famous double bridge that is seen in the movie Everest. But mostly we got to go up hill, lots of uphill.
Ellen, a former marine colonel and current triathlete, is the fastest hiker of the group. Right there with her is Ryan, also a triathlete. The group spreads out pretty far on the trail.
I re-memorized The Cremation of Sam McGee during the hike. I think I want to find another poem to memorize for the next hiking day.
We formally entered the Sagarmatha National Park during this climbing afternoon. This immediately and dramatically changed the character of the hike. Prior to this we had been hiking through a linear village arraigned along the trail. This is not only to drain the wallets of the trekkers hiking the trail, but also because the trail is the only source of outside goods to these people. So here we are in this remote place on earth, inaccessible to cars and trucks and yet we are passing a guy hocking Coca-Cola and Mars Bars every 60 feet. But after passing the gate it all faded away and we were really on a much more isolated road. It is hard to call it wilderness, since this was still a road representing the economic umbilical cord for all the villages that lie above us.
before you think bad of me for all of my spelling mistakes understand that I am hiking in a part of the world where welcome is two words.
I may have more to write about this day later but I need to finish this up. We hiked until 5:30 and entered Namche Bazar. The place has built its entrance like Disney does an entrance. It is spectacular with a beautiful gate followed by fountains and a series of large prayer wheels going up the hill. It is striking.
garlic soup is a thing, and it is good.