Monday, April 23, 2012
Day 21 - Pheriche to Namche Bazar
Once again it was a perfect day for trekking. In fact, other than the trail dust, I was thankful for the occasional wind to help keep things cool. It was warm!! In theory, today might have been the hardest of the three days - but I will hold out final judgement until tomorrow night.
The trail climbed up and down to reach high about the right side of the Imja Khola river, eventually crossing via a steel bridge strung directly above the old wood the rope bridge. After this bridge, the trail climbs back up to the Tengboche Gompa at 12,664 ft. I couldn't resist taking a break for some apple pie before continuing on to Phunki Tenga for lunch. The coolest suspension bridge goes right into the the restaurant. As I enjoyed my lunch of vegetable fried noodles and watched the trekkers and porters come and go over the bridge, I checked my email. I had the phone online and a new email popped in while I was sitting there. It was from Nicki, who trekked to base camp wtih her brother and father who are climbing the mountain. It was about her pictures that she had put online. I thought it was funny that I replied immediately with where I was and what I was doing. I knew she knew the place.
After Phunki Tenga, the trail once again climbs up. WTF! I thought I was going down? Up, up, up another 800 ft. vertical before leveling off and traversing along the side of the hill. With the mountain on my right side and the steep drop to the valley below on my left, I reached many places where the trail curved to the right tracking the terrain before swinging back to the left out to a point. Every time I saw one of these points, I imagined that it was the final one and when I reached and curved around it, Namche Bazar would lie in front of me. This happened about six times and each time my swearing grew stronger and more intense (I was getting a bit tied and my feet had seen enough trail).
Finally I reached Namche and the Panorama Lodge at 3:30pm. I gave Joe a call up at base camp to check in and he gave my ego a boost by letting me know that was a pretty good time. Perhaps 5th place in my age group. I even beat my porter who showed up 1.5 hours later.
I couldn't resist heading downtown - and when I say downtown in Namche, it is quite literarily DOWN to the town - for some more of that best apple pie in the Khumbu.
Back to the Panorama for dinner of chicken fried rice and they surprised me with desert - you guessed it - apple pie. Three times in one day. Not even close to touching today's caloric burn.
Hard to believe, after all these weeks, that tomorrow is my final day hiking. I must say that the Khumbu is the best hiking I have ever experienced and likely ever will. It is absolutely an amazing and awe-inspiring place. Everyone should do this once in their lives (if you are into that kinda thing).