28.04.2008 - 12.05.2008
We have made is safely back to Kathmandu after our 13 day trek in the Everest Region of Nepal. A few thoughts come to mind: wow what an amazing place, very happy we were able to handle the altitude and we have never been so happy to shower (13 days without a shower is a long time ya know....thank goodness for WetOnes).
Since our last blog update.....we arrived in Kathmandu and were jumpin at the bit to get out of the city and to the mountains where we are most comfortable. I was very excited to get to Kathmandu, all the pictures that I had seen made it out to seem like a quaint large town in Nepal. I was expecting peaceful stupas with the famous "Eyes of Buddha" looking over all. I was not expecting the hustle and bustle of a larger city, the tall buildings, the dust/pollution and most of all the crazy street traffic. Which includes the typical cars, trucks, buses, as well as motorbikes, rickshaws, bicycles, dogs and cows and pedestrians (rarely is there a sidewalk). All of this on a street the size of an American alley. Needless to say, the first couple days here were somewhat overwhelming walking from point A to point B coming from quiet Tassie. But we are finally getting comfortable with the set up and just trust that we won't get hit. So far so good
We did a little bit of sight seeing before leaving for our trek, but we decided to leave most of it until we returned. So the day before our trek we got everything set up. We went through a trekking company affiliated with our hotel. We had an idea of where we wanted to go, our friends Mike and Cheryl had just done the same trek in November. But there are literally 100s of different trekking companies here in Kathmandu. So we were happy to find a good company at our hotel. We ended up with a 13 day trek that included our flights from Kathmandu to Lukla (I will touch upon this experience shortly) our trekking permit, a guide (Santha who could speak English well and was like our mountain host) a porter (Pernard who did not speak English but he carried our pack) 3 meals a day, lodging in the basic guest houses, and all the other administrative stuff that goes along with the trek (food/lodging for guide and porter, taxi to airport, making sure they would contact Breezy's mom incase of an emergency and get us out safely and deal with our insurance stuff). We felt that it was a great overall package and we only had to worry about drinks and an occasional can of Pringles. Once we had our trek set up we went shopping for some last minute items we needed: gloves, fleece jacket and pants. We were also able to meet our guide Santha (sounds like Santa Claus) to make sure we would get along. We were then set to leave the hotel early the next morning to catch our flight to Lukla.
The flight to Lukla deserves its own paragraph. We boarded a small 17 passenger propeller cesna. The flight was rather short about 30 minutes, but after about 15 minutes we could see amazing views of some of the largest mountains in the world out the window. Before we knew it, it was time to land. What a strange feeling to look out both sides of the plane and see mountains and then to look out the front of the plane and see a village on a hill right in front of you. The Lukla airport runway leaves little room for pilot error. I would say it is only 300 meters long and on one side you have the village of Lukla, on the other side is a cliff. I guess some of the highest trained pilots in Nepal are those that fly into Lukla. The runway was also at a pretty steep incline to help with take-off and landings.
That morning after we arrived and had breakfast we started hiking right away. Our trekking schedule for the 13 days was much of the same. We would get up at about 6am, have breakfast at 6:30, leave the guest house around 7am and walk for 3-6 hours, have lunch, nap/relax, have dinner, play some cards and talk, then hit the hay around 8pm. Our rooms were all pretty typical, small simple, and with two beds consisting of a thin piece of foam and cover. Most mornings we were lucky to wake up at 4am or 5am to a breathtaking view of the mountains. Early mornings were generally clear with clouds moving in about ten or so. We even got caught in a couple of snow storms that we napped through
About the third of fourth day we arrived in Thyangboche, a town about the size of three city blocks...if that, with a giant monastery, it happened to be a special time of the month and were lucky enough to witness some kind of holy happenings, very interesting. Lots of strange drums and horns being played after some long chants and mantras. The views from this little place were also amazing, Ama Dablam Peak was just to the east of us, a very tall spire that is most impressive as well as Mt Everest in the difference. After this stop we started heading north toward Gokyo, with a night pit-stop in Machherma. Once in Goyko we were at 15, 750 ft in altitude, and needed to acclimate for a couple of days before the Renjo Pass crossing of close to 18,000 ft. The day after we arrived included a day hike, starting at 4am, to Gokyo peak which is a bit higher than Renjo Pass but with incredible views of Everest and all of the surrounding mountains, nothing I've ever seen before even compares!!!!!!
Well, the next day came and we prepared to hit Renjo Pass, ate our so called Nepalese wheaties and hit the trail. We are proud to say it took us under three hours to reach the pass, compared with the four to five it usually takes with other weenier people. Infact, our guide said he had never made it so quickly (maybe the goo and coca tea had something to do with it). The stumble down the other side was much harder than going up, having to contend with snow and a steep decline was slightly challenging. In all it took us about 6 hours to reach Lengdeng, where we gladly collapsed for a nap. About a day after this we were starting to get run down and were sorely needing a shower and clean clothes. There really isn't anywhere to clean your clothes along the way and my (Breezy is now typing) socks were starting to turn into a primitive plastic....yuk.
So to skip ahead till the last night, we finally went out and had a few drinks in Lukla to celebrate a wonderful trek. In the celebration we ended up meeting a few other travelers, one from the US, and an Aussie. Never thought I'd be so happy to get back to Kathmandu....but mostly to shower. And its hard to write about the crap that fell off our bodies in the shower.....yum.
So anyhoo, we've just spent the last couple of days shopping for deals in the Thamel market....lots of fake North Face stuff that looks really fake, but cheap!!! We have started to do some sight seeing. We leave for the somewhat peaceful town of Pokhara tomorrow. As we mentioned before we will not be including photos until we get back to the states. But we have decided to include our friends Mike and Cheryl's blog link because they have some amazing photos of the same trek we just got done with. Not sure where they're at but someone with a faster connections speed can figure it out.... http://blogs.bootsnall.com/mike_and_cheryl
Here is a somewhat detailed map as well (so many of the place that we trekked to are not on the map) so this will give you an idea of where we are.
Hope you are all well.