Trekking The Himalayas - Part 1 of 5

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March 7th 2014
Published: March 20th 2014
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5-7 March Days 1-3 Lukla(2840m) to Pakding(2610m) to Namche Bazaar(3440m)

It was up early to travel to the Kathmandu domestic airport with our guide Prakash (pronounced pra-kas). We arrived at 7.15am to commence the lottery that is the flight to Lukla. There are so many weather factors that can determine if you will be flying that day or not. In particular clouds, fog, wind, snow, and rain. Today it happened to be quite windy up at Lukla so flights were being delayed. Our flight ended up departing at around 10.30am, flying with Tara Air on an 18 seater twin prop sky bound tin box. The flight went without a hitch and lasted around 30 minutes. There was a bit of sway coming into Lukla from the wind, but the views of the Himalayas were stunning.

Stepping off it was colder than we were expecting, with snow patches already lumped across the pathways. We weren’t really expecting to be walking amongst snow for at least a few days yet. It was a quick lunch break at "The Nest" at Lukla with some soup, chips and masala tea, then we were off for our 3.5 hour walk to Pakding.

The weather was overcast. The trekking environment was mostly pine forest whilst following an aqua blue river flowing down from the mountains, Bhote Kohsi River. The track itself was a mixture of dirt, rocks, suspension bridges, rock stairs and mud. There are stone and timber lodges and homes all along the track. Out from behind the pine trees, snowy Himalayan peaks poke their heads out from hidden view. We passed cows crossed with yaks (djob-kyo's) carrying 60kg on their backs, and more impressive still are the 14 year old local porters carrying up to 100kg hanging from their heads. The compression carries through their necks and their veins almost pop out of their skin. I seriously don’t know how they do it. Already we are both happy that we paid the big bucks for our full leather boots, and bought trekking poles with us.

At Pakding we stayed at the Beer Garden Lodge in a nice room with a private bathroom, however the water wasn’t hot. The room was only 400NPR for the night, yes just $4AUD. In the afternoon we also did a 1.5 hour trek up to Rimishung Monastery (about 2800m), and climbed a lot of stairs. They train young tibetan monks up there, and we met a few of them and entered their prayer room. The weather turned a little on the way down and we were trekking in the rain, not overly heavy, however we didn’t have our rain jackets on us for this short arvo trek (Murphy’s law). It was freezing cold at night and also first thing in the morning until the sun rises above the tall mountains. We changed into pj’s and hit the lodge for dinner and a fire. Dinner was some local fuel of dal bhat and veg curry with a side of masala tea.

I woke about 8 times during the night, mainly due to feeling like a caterpillar curled up in my cocoon too tight, Suz only woke twice to go to the toilet. The Diamox is certainly starting to take it’s toll on our bladders. After day 1 of trekking we both agreed that we were battling our own mind games of doubt and that feeling of “how am I going to be able to do this for 18 days”. Perhaps it was the overcast weather. However, come morning we awoke to clear sunny skies on our second day and our mindset changed as quick as the weather. We were pumped to be trekking on our second day and although it ended up being a longer day we both enjoyed it immensely.

The trekking environment for day 2 was much the same as day 1, however we followed the river for a lot of the day, and crossed it 5 times over suspension bridges. The slog at the end of the 6.5 hour trek into Namche was also a bit of a killer, rising hundreds of metres on stairs alone. During the day Prakash taught us many Nepalese words. Suz is great at picking up language so she remembers perhaps around 15-20 words. I on the other hand remember only a couple, my favourite being “seedy mutti” meaning "my wife". I’m sure it’s not spelt like that but that’s exactly how it sounds. We returned the favour by teaching him “cool as a cucumber” and “let’s hit the frog and toad”. He also really struggles saying my name. Like a lot of Asian languages they simply don’t have a “V” sound. So he ends up saying it a bit like “Fench”. It cracks us up every time.

When we arrive at Namche, staying at The Nest, we hit the hot showers, powered by a geyser/hot spring. We are both feeling a little feverish with that sore limb and hot flush kind of feeling. Prakash informs us it’s likely due to a lack of water. Although we had drunk 2L on day 1 and at that stage 2L on day 2. So we drunk another 1L during dinner. The recommendation is actually 4L each per day, so we are now determined to down that much from now on. We are drinking tap water with a single iodine tablet for each litre. The taste is actually quite good.

On day 3 we have an acclimatisation day at Namche. We get a sleep in until 7.30am and then we leave for an acclimatisation trek after breakfast. The idea is that you trek high and sleep low every few days in order to help your body get used to the lack of oxygen. We trekked up to a fabulous view point. From here we could see our first glimpse of Everest, or Sagamartha as the locals call it. 8848m of sheer magnificent mass. We could also see Lhotse at 8516m and the pointy Ama Dablam at 6812m. We visited a Sherpa museum and learnt about their culture and how they live, and how hard their lives were years ago and even now. Also how the area has changed over the past 60 years with the influx of tourism. Around 25% of the Sherpas on the wall had died from either a fall or avalanche whilst trekking the peaks. One of the guys had been to the peak of Everest 13 times, and another spent a whopping 21 hours on the peak of Everest unaided by oxygen (bearing in mind the oxygen levels on the peak are only about 30%). Most climbers get only a few minutes at the peak before having to turn around. The youngest to have trekked the peak of Everest was just 14 years old, a Sherpa. However I heard recently a Canadian boy reached the summit and was just 13 years old. The Nepalese government wouldn’t sell him a pass, so he had to climb to the peak from the trickier Tibetan side…. crazy, can you remember what you were doing at the age of 13!? We then finished off with a hike up to around 3760m for some sweeping views back down to Namche.

After lunch we made our way to the weekly Namche markets, the locals around here trek for days to buy produce and supplies at these markets. However they weren’t overly busy due to it still being on the fringe of low season. Then it was a stroll around town to pick up some bodily crevice wiping supplies, and back to the lodge for some relaxation before dinner. Following this it was off to bed for a recharge before our trek up to Phortse Thanga (3680m).

Additional photos below
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twin prop plane's can be noisytwin prop plane's can be noisy
twin prop plane's can be noisy

cotton wool in the ears
our room in Pakdingour room in Pakding
our room in Pakding

pretty stock standard

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