The overnight snow left a light blanket over the trail as we headed further downhill, with our final destination for the day the monastery of Tengboche, situated on a ridge at an elevation of 3880 meters with views of Mount Everest. Along the way we stopped for tea at the community of Pangboche and then lunch after crossing the river once again on a suspension bridge to the community of Deboche. As the elevation decreased we reentered pine and rhododendron forests and then climbed steeply from Deboche to Tengboche where we stayed at the Himalaya Hotel. We arrived in time to sit though part of a service at the monastery, but left after 30 minutes when we realized that we understood nothing that was going on and we were getting numb from sitting cross legged on a cold floor.
The hotel dining room was crowded, but we had a reserved table (sort of) and were all able to fit around the table. After dinner we continued a lively game of dhumble, but as usual, by 8 PM everyone was ready for sleep.
|View from Pumori Hotel, Pheriche|
|Bridge over the Dudh Khosi River|
|Patrick & Sean taking a much needed break|
|Tengboche Monastery 3880 Meters|
Leaving Tengboche by another route we headed down the ridge towards Nauche (Namche) and re-crossed the river on a suspension bridge where we stopped at Phunsi Tenga for tea. Hiking up a steep slope we arrived at Kenjoma where we stopped for lunch before heading across the ridge to Nauche Bazaar. We arrived at the Namche Hotel and were greeted with "deluxe" rooms with hot showers and electric blankets on the beds. Getting cleaned up was a real treat after so many days of cold weather and no showers.
That evening we treated ourselves to a Guinness Stout at the Irish Pub before heading to bed.
We departed Nauche at 0900 after stopping at the Illy coffee shop for take-away cups of mocha or espresso. The hike back down the hill to the Hillary Bridge gave us our last views of Mt. Everest as we hiked through the pine and rhododendron forests through the relatively thick air at 10,000 feet. Stopping at Jorsale for tea we then exited Sagarmantha National Park at Monjo and stopped at Benkar for lunch before continuing on the Phakding, our stop for the night.
The Beer Garden Hotel was just as bad, even worse, then when we were going the other way, with the toilet not working, the bathroom ceiling leaking water in big drips and black mold everywhere. The hotel management fixed the toilet but ignored the rest of the problems and sleep that night was like being in a cold clammy cave with a stream running through it.
After a lukewarm breakfast we gratefully departed the wreck of a hotel and headed towards Lukla, some 8 kilometers away and 600 meters higher. At about the 4 kilometer point we crossed our last suspension bridge of the trip and stopped for tea at Cheplung. A tired crew walked under the archway into Lukla at 1200, passing through the main part of town, around the end of the airstrip and finally stopping at the Hotel Numbur alongside the airstrip. After lunch we backtracked a few hundred yards and gathered at the Lukla Starbucks to agree on the gratuity for the porters and expedition leaders while enjoying a double grande mocha. (this may not be a real Starbucks but the coffee was good)
We covered approximately 150 Kilometers during the trek, reaching elevations of 18,192 feet and saw some of the most magnificent mountain scenery in the world, including the world's highest point, Mt. Everest, at 29,028 feet. We witnessed the Sherpa's lifestyle; simple and difficult, but seemingly satisfying. We saw evidence of the Sherpa's Buddhist faith everywhere we looked, from mani stones to monasteries filled with monks. We made new friends, our fellow trekkers and met other trekkers from every part of the world. We tested our physical abilities at altitude and found out that training does payoff, but that nothing we can do in the Northwest can prepare you for the effects of the thin, cold air above 14,000 feet.
|The sun sets over our trek to Everest Base Camp|