Happy Anniversary to my Mum and Dad!
The snow has stopped falling, it is utterly beautiful outside. After a bowl of ultra thin porridge (NPI score of 4/10) supplemented by a chapatti with honey we head off to start our day. The walk out of the village was utterly incredible. The snow was pristine, powdery and soft, I love that squeaky noise it makes as you are walking on it. It is 0750 and the sun is shining- it is going to be a very good day. We leave the village heading downhill. It is a very comfortable walk. The surrounding trees are loaded with snow- it is a Hallmark xmas card moment if ever there was one. It is incredibly quiet and one of the most beautiful days yet. As the sun warms things up gobs of snow start falling - sometimes at inopportune moments- suffer a few "snow down the collar" episodes. We trekked down to Phortse Tenga but didn't stop. There is a lot of pre-season activity- cleaning, painting, carpet and bedding airing, etc. Dhana tells us that as he was heading into PT two years ago he saw a snow leopard. Cool!
We then encounter
a decent ascent- actually there were exactly 2567 steps of ascent- yep, I counted. Passing an impressive white gompa and the prayer flags that never fail to make me a take more photos, we arrive into Mongla around 1120. Dhana leads us in to one of the 2 open teahouses. We are the only ones in this one, the one next door has about 4 lots of people. Stop for an hour for an omelette chapatti and tea. As we are leaving Sasha the Russian appears- he had a GREAT night NOT in Dhole. He, Gan (his porter) and the teahouse owner shared a bottle of Irish whisky looking out on the falling snow together, just the three of them- it almost sounded romantic. We SO should have been there- not for the romance obviously, but just for a non-Dhole experience. Say goodbye to him for the 3rd time- it actually proves to be the final goodbye this time. He is staying in Mongla for the night and then is going to meet his wife in Pokhara.
Back on with the journey.... the gortex goes back on as the wind starts to get up a bit, crampons come off
because it looks like our snow has gone. Almost stack it (Australian expression meaning to fall over inelegantly) twice on the mud. More downhill walking, we pass a few porters, a few grazing yaks and a group of 3 trekkers. The terrain has a complete colour change to a "Scottish Highlands brown". It is still pretty impressive to look at despite the virtual absence of the snow. At the turn off to Namche Dhana asks if we want to detour through Kumjung and Khunde Villages- total no brainer- off course we do. They are the original sherpa villages and it is quite evident that there is some money around. They are big settlements with novel things like public toilets and public incinerators. As we leave the village we pass the Edmund Hillary School, prayer wheels and gompa. there is also an incredibly long mani wall, at least 100m in length. Then it is up steps back on track to Namche- muddy steps, followed by muddy, muddy steps... We pass an American - he is staying in the village looking at improving the local yak breeding program. Onwards, more steps up, more mud to another gompa, this one has the addition
of a memorial to the helicopter pilots that died on the Ama Dablam rescue mission in 2010. The memorials that we have seen on this trek are sobering, the Nepali people often pay the ultimate price when rescuing foreigners. http://fishtailair.com/blog/rescue-mission-to-ama-dablam-6812m-proves-fatal-for-fishtail-air%!E(MISSING)2%99s-as-350-b3/
From here it is all down hill to Namche- through mud, past yak pasture, through mud.... and to the airfield. Quick detour through the blue pine reforestaion project and a patch of rhododendron. We witness an up close and personal helicopter take off before a long, downward stretch of stone steps. We emerge at the top of Namche, another prayer wheel awaits. This time it is decorated with a gaggle of little kids. We sit down and watch them playing, they are very self sufficient these kids- the oldest is looking after a baby and a handful of toddlers. One of the toddlers is playing with a peroxide haired Barbie doll, another with a baby doll, the little boys just seems to enjoy chasing each other with sticks. Coming down the steps are several porters transporting building supplies, 3 guys are manipulating a big load of intact cabling- they run down the slope to a switchback turn, stop abruptly,
reposition, turn and run the next section. They are a well oiled machine! I still can't believe how strong these guys are, the loads they carry are ridiculous, many of them barely teenagers.
As we reach the village the familiar tap, tap, tap of the stone workers starts. The ice and snow of a couple of weeks has completely gone and the shops have all opened up. There are noticeably more people around. We are back at Hotel Camp de Base
- room 14, sunny and warm. The taps at the sinks in the corridor have been turned on and the toilets are functioning- it would appear the pipes are no longer frozen. Being back in civilisation meant one thing for me- coffee. Mary and I headed off by ourselves to Everest Bakery - had a decent cappuccino and a big fat chocolate croissant. Checked out the bookshop/exchange nearby- I got a copy of "Human Traces" by Sebastian Faulks in exchange for 200Rp and the book I had just finished. Hint- don't buy any Nepal/Climbing Everest/Into the Void, etc, etc type books before your trek- there are literally hundreds of them available in Namche and in the teahouses along
the trek. Virtually ran up and down the steps of Namche- so much fitter after the last 2 weeks. Back at the teahouse I buy 30 minutes of internet access for 100 NPR and email home. Latish dinner- we enjoy Maya's dhal bat. Dhana spends the evening speaking to a German couple, Chitra is glued to the TV- some soccer game is on. Mary and I reflect on the trek to date- we are in a really good rhythm, I am so glad we have a few more days of this trek to go.
Tot: 2.107s; Tpl: 0.12s; cc: 13; qc: 29; dbt: 0.069s; 1; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb