April 3: Uphill Trail
We got an early start in the morning. This would pay off upon arrival, because we would have first pick of the accomodations. More yak trains carrying gear for some Everest expeditions and others. This day had the added event of our entrance into Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) National Park. At US$26 each, this permit cost us more than the last five days of room and board. I hope that money goes to preserve some of the beauty around here.
The last kilometer or so became really steep as we made the final ascent into Namche Bazaar. The town sits in an interesting bowl-shaped crescent that overlooks the Dudh Kosi far below. It is hidden from view from almost every approach. Once we came up over the lip of the incline, we knew we had arrived.
Namche Bazaar 3446m (11,300ft)
The trails leads right into what seems like the main street of town. We are immediately surrounded by teahouses and shops hawking camping gear for the road ahead. Yes, for most people, this is the start of the journey. For us, it is a destination. Thanks to good planning, we arrived early in the day, just before noon. We missed the bad weather that came in behind us. AND, we beat the rush for a decent bed. After a bit of jockeying we scored a bed in the highly-acclaimed Khumbu Lodge.
Although nobody seems to believe us, we stayed in the same room that retired President Jimmy Carter visited years ago. This lodge has been the resting spot for many amazing people over the years. On the wall is a poster of Rob Hall who started many climbs with his Adventure Consultants here at Khumbu. We happened to arrive on the day that this year's Adventure Consultant crew was coming in. A Spaniard, a couple US doctor/lawyer types, and Guy Cotter the new leader of this unstoppable Kiwi enterprise. We sat in the heated lounge, sipped some herbal tea, chomped on baked potatoes, and watched the snow start to fall outside.
It turns out that Namche is a good stopping point. Of course, we would like to go on further, but from here, one must ascend more slowly due to altitude sickness concerns. Plus, we don't have the clothing and sleeping bags for the cooler weather ahead. Our two week climb must end at only about 13,000ft so that we can make it on the plane back to Kathmandu. Anyway, we did afford ourselves some time to take a look around for a day.
April 4: Daywalk to Khumjung
We left our gear at the lodge and took a look at the trail ahead. Not necessarily more strenuous or more challenging, just further along up the river and fewer towns and teahouses all the way up to the base camp. Some of our friends were headed to the camp, but they are the Australians who seem to have infinite time and resources. Next time we'll plan more time into our adventure too, we think.
One Last Look
After ten days up in the hills, we still hadn't had many good views of the big mountains. They are kinda like the illusive Mt. Fuji in Japan which requires a good four or five visits before you get a good view. Well, before heading out to Lukla, I had the bright idea of making one last climb to the edge of Namche for a look around. Somehow Brica and I managed to get in an argument over this, which resulted in my running up ahead
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