After a pleasant sleep with the sound of the nearby river, we had eaten breakfast and were walking up the Khumbu valley by 8AM. The day’s trek started out with a relaxed pace. Small elevation gains were followed by essentially flat sections of trail, as we walked next to the Dudh Koshi. This translates to “Milk River”, an apt name given the mass of glacial particulates suspended in it. Suspension bridges aflight with prayer flags brought us from one bank to another through misty pine forest.
After reaching the border of Sagarmatha National Park we stopped for lunch in Tawa (or Thog). We were hungry, but mostly this was our last chance to eat before Namche Bazar. The beauty of the place was embellished by prayers carved into boulders like tattoos, banners & strings of prayer flags, and prayer wheels painted with vibrant colors. Another meal of dahl bot (soupy lentils over rice with curry spiced chicken on the side) and we were on our way again.
The initial walk was deceptively laid back. But once we climbed the stone steps to the last bridge, it was nothing but switch-backs through dusty pine forest. After looking at a map, it seems we gained 635m between our lunch spot and Namche. Most of this was after the bridge. Oh my golly, I have never been to 3440m above sea level before, but the air is certainly thinner here. Our pace slowed down, but we made it to the Yak Hotel in Namche around 3:30, just before the clouds began to drizzle. Being from the Pacific Northwest, it would seem odd to me if I didn’t get a little wet while hiking. The Hinku Himal region has not disappointed me yet, but fortunately there has not been any real rain.
We will have two sleeps and a full day here in Namche, working to acclimatize our bodies. Although I am the only non-Nepali in our team, Murrai is the only member who has ever been up this high. My, half pill of Diamox a day regime, seems to be working so I will keep it up. Diamox can prevent altitude sickness. But eating pills once you show symptoms, is like shutting the barn door once your cows are in the neighbor’s garden. Nothing but paperwork, and who needs more of that?
I will spend my day in Namche tomorrow, trying not to buy awesome trinkets, writing and also visiting SPCC. The Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee has their office here and they have all the latest data on the solid waste issue on this holy mountain. I look forward to my visit with them and exploring this scenic town that clings to the cliff side it has been cut into.