Monthly Archives: November 2015

Everest: Week 4

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Renjo La – The last of the three high passes , looking towards Everest

 

Map of Jiri to Everest Region

Day 22: Goyko to Marlung
November 19th, 2015
Starting elevation: 4790m
Finishing elevation: 4210m
Highest elevation reached: 5360m
Lowest elevation: 4210m
Total elevation gained: 570m
Total elevation lost: 1150m
Departure time: 8:05 AM
Finishing time: 3:30 PM

Day 22. It is now officially the longest trek I have ever done. Over the last high pass. We did it. The way up was tough, but nothing that I haven’t handled already. The weather was beautiful. No wind at the top. Gorgeous views of Everest and the surrounding mountains. Only a few icy spots but not bad. The way down was mostly gradual except for the top where there were stone stairs to guide us. This was the only pass where there were also yaks crossing, the other passes have sections that are just too steep for them.

It’s definitely warmer down here in Marlung by 5 to 10 degrees. Still chilly, but so much more comfortable. Yesterday morning it was 16 degrees in Gokyo and this morning it was 20.

We are in the most rudimentary lodge I think I have stayed in in Nepal. The toilet is outside in an outhouse. The hallways leading to the bedrooms have no flooring, just dirt. The rooms have potato sacks for flooring. The pillows are filled with straw. There are only three guest bedrooms, in contrast to many of the lodges up here that can sleep 30 to 50 if not more.

The lodge owner told us that this pass has only been open for 8 or 9 years and that before that this was a restricted area with no trail to the pass. The two villages we have passed through so far in this valley are much less touristy. There are actually people living here that are not catering to tourists.

We waited a long time for our dinner to be served in a smoke-filled room, but when it finally came it was delicious. Tomorrow the plan is to get all the way back to Namche to complete the circuit. I can’t believe it’s winding down.

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Clutch and Ashley celebrating the ascent of the last high pass

Day 23: Marlung to Namche
November 20th, 2015
Starting elevation: 4210m
Finishing elevation: 3440m
Highest elevation reached: 4210m
Lowest elevation: 3320m
Total elevation gained: 120m
Total elevation lost: 890m
Departure time: 8:25 AM
Finishing time: 3:30 PM

After only about an hour of hiking down a gentle slope we came to a mountain tributary where we washed our faces and stripped down. The air was thick and warm. “What a difference a couple of thousand feet make,” Clutch commented. We were now under 14,000 feet and I was loving it. I hoped my cough would slowly go away. I spent the rest of the morning hiking in a t-shirt and shorts.

Before Namche there were some uphill sections, but with the thicker air they were no problem. I actually had to force myself to go faster in order for my breath to match my pace.

We hiked through beautiful pine forest – the first trees I had seen in almost two weeks. Being back in Namche was surreal. We went out to a bar, had a couple of beers, and played pool. I felt like I could have been anywhere back in the states forgetting that were still buried deep in the Himalayas.

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Cool Ranch and a random lady taking pictures of Everest from Renjo La

Day 24: Namche to Monjo
November 21st, 2015
Starting elevation: 3440m
Finishing elevation: 2835m
Highest elevation reached: 3440m
Lowest elevation: 2740m
Total elevation gained: 95m
Total elevation lost: 700m
Departure time: 12:45 PM
Finishing time: 3:00 PM

I wanted to take it easy today, maybe even stay another night in Namche, but Clutch, Cool Ranch, and Ashley were keen to push on, particularly Clutch who wanted to get to Lukla to get out some more cash.

The four of us went to the market together and then had tea, ad we did last night, in a little abode run by the wife of the man who was running the rudimentary lodge in Marlung. She was generous with the amount of tea she gave and insisted that no money be given. But we gave her money anyways. She presented us all with white scarves wishing us a safe journey. The was a tremendous honor and one of my more cooler moments in Nepal.

I said goodbye to my three protectors over the last two passes and then headed back to the bakery to work on my blog alone.

I decided that I would leave Namche after lunch and only go as far as Monjo. This meant that I must cross that dreaded bridge 400 and something feet over the river. I took three swabs of my medication and headed down the hill. I crossed the bridge following a young female porter concentrating on the water jugs she carried on her back. 90 seconds of terror I call it. Feel the fear and do it anyways. There was only one way to get across the river.

After a short day, I arrived in Monjo. I slept in the afternoon and am looking forward to more sleep tonight. Last night was the best sleep I had had in maybe two weeks. The air is cool, but so much more agreeable, and full of intoxicating oxygen molecules!

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The dreaded bridge coming down from Namche, the lower one is out of comission, the high one is terrorizing

Day 25: Monjo to Lukla
November 22nd, 2015
Starting elevation: 2835m
Finishing elevation: 2840m
Highest elevation reached: 2840m
Lowest elevation: 2492m
Total elevation gained: 348m
Total elevation lost: 343m
Departure time: 7:35 AM
Finishing time: 12:30 PM

I felt sluggish, feverish, sore, and tired today. I wanted to make it to Lukla by lunch time so that I could enjoy a half day off, which I did, but I went off the trail three times and lost maybe 45 minutes. It felt like more of a full day than a half day. I ran into Cool Ranch, Clutch, and Ashley again in Lulka and will likely hike with them for the next few days. I enjoyed some of the comforts of Lukla, like hot chocolate and cake, and was able to facetime folks from home and get a blog post up. I slept some in the afternoon and felt tired throughout the afternoon. I am thinking that my cough might be bronchitis but hopefully it will get better over the next few days. The hike was a very pleasant up and down jaunt along the river. I had little recollection of it from two weeks ago, perhaps because I had taken my medication that morning to deal with the planes flying in and out of Lukla.

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Last view of Everest from below Namche

Day 26: Lukla to Kharikhola
November 23rd, 2015
Starting elevation: 2840m
Finishing elevation: 2035m
Highest elevation reached: 2945m
Lowest elevation: 2035m
Total elevation gained: 1275m
Total elevation lost: 2095m
Departure time: 8:30 AM
Finishing time: 3:55 PM

Back on the Lukla to Jiri trail with Ashley, Clutch and Cool Ranch. Big ups and downs. But it is a lot easier with oxygen in the air. Still good weather. Interesting political conversation with a group of Aussies, particularly the doctor. Not much else to report.

 

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Remnants of the Mao Revolution from 1996-2006 perhaps? – in Rigmu

Day 27: Kharikhola to Taksindu
November 24th, 2015
Starting elevation: 2035m
Finishing elevation: 2960m
Highest elevation reached: 2960m
Lowest elevation: 1500m
Total elevation gained: 1565m
Total elevation lost: 640m
Departure time: 9:20 AM
Finishing time: 4:10 PM

5000 feet of vertical climbing today. Eesh! A long day, and we didn’t get to Ringmu like we had wanted. I decided today that instead of hiking three more days to Jiri that I would hike to Salleri tomorrow with the others and get a jeep to Kathmandu with them on the 26th. The 26th is Thanksgiving so hopefully it will be a good jeep ride. I am a little worried that I won’t have enough medication for a jeep ride so I might have to supplement. Hopefully the familiarity of being with these three that I have been traveling with for over a week will help me. Taking the jeep back will put me ahead of schedule, give me plenty of time to go to Baktapur, and also give me five days between medication use before I have to use it again. All the down yesterday made me knee sore today. No big deal though with only one day left.

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A porter carrying an extraordinary amount – look for his little feet – near Taksindu

Day 28: Taksindu to Salleri
November 25th, 2015
Starting elevation: 2960m
Finishing elevation: 2390m
Highest elevation reached: 3070m
Lowest elevation: 2390m
Total elevation gained: 110m
Total elevation lost: 680m
Departure time: 8:40 AM
Finishing time: 1:20 PM

The last day on the trail. Instead of continuing on another two and a half days to Jiri from Ringmu, I took the trail/dirt road down to Salleri with Cool Ranch, Clutch, and Ashley. We’ve reserved a jeep for tomorrow that leaves at 4:00 AM for Kathmandu. I am nervous about it. I don’t do real well with early morning rides before there is light out. I have my medication, but there’s not much left, so sadly I also have some antihistamine, and…some alcohol. Hopefully it will all be enough to get me there without incident. The good thing about getting to Kathmandu earlier is that I will have five days between medication use and that will increase its effectiveness for the plane ride to Thailand. Three days between use would not be as good. Salleri is a big-sized town but not really geared for tourists. Just 20 minutes before Salleri we passed through Phaplu, which has an airport. The runway is much longer than Lukla’s, but it is also on an inclined grade. We walked through beautiful old growth pine forests today. I felt like I was in the Sierras or somewhere out West. We’ve stocked up on some goodies for the ride tomorrow, which is Thanksgiving Day – apple cider, apple wine, cheese, Oreos, chips, rum…

Thanksgiving Day
November 26th, 2015

A long, brutal and uncomfortable jeep ride that I’d like soon to forget, and fortunately because of how my medication works, I will. The tires of the jeep had no tread. The driver swerved a lot, and I tried not to look at the the precipitous cliffs we drove along. There were ten of us scrunched into three rows of seats. Nips of rum shared with Cool Ranch and three antihistamine helped get me through. Eleven hours after leaving Salleri (only 78 miles from Kathmandu “as the crow flies.”) the driver obnoxiously stopped to do personal errands in Kathmandu then drove us through the most obscure part of the city before dropping us off a good 30 minute walk away from the center of the city. My twisted up and confined legs waited impatiently to get out of the jeep, but didn’t mind the walk, after all, we’e been walking for a month. We celebrated Thanksgiving back in Kathmandu by eating KFC and ice cream, neither as good as back in the states – no mashed potatoes or gravy! – this is a rice continent. I got the chance to get in contact with a few people back home and wish them a Happy Thanksgiving before I crashed hard.