Well I suppose it would be burying the lead a bit if I didn’t say we lost Jamie today. We saw him briefly in the morning, but as kind of a passive-aggressive protest he was walking behind us. (He’d down the same thing when we didn’t cross the first pass.) He fell further and further behind us and then finally was just gone. We stopped for 20 minutes every hour or so, at places where we could look at long sections of the trail, but there was nobody.
But anyway, it was a great morning. Despite knowing we were descending, it felt like we had more climbs (Nepal flat–little up, little down) than anything else, but very gradually we lost altitude. Our bodies were grateful, and everything grew easier as the oxygen in our blood increased.
The scenery changed from the stark alpine rocks and mountains to something reminiscent of the Annapurna: deep valleys, distant cloud-covered mountains, and scattered pine trees. I had “The Last Battle” on audio book and it turned out to have been read by PATRICK STEWART! So just the best morning you could ask for.
Lots and lots of people passed us going the other way, and we realized peak season was starting. The morning hours flew by, but sometime after we’d lost Jamie it started hailing. We began scratching messages for him in the ground, Gandalf on Weathertop sytle, but the steady stream of yak trains pretty much meant that was a doomed endeavor. The trail grew quite muddy in places.
There was no sign of Jamie. But to get to Namche in one day, it was going to be a long day, so we pressed on. Though we couldn’t see the distant mountains, we passed frozen waterfalls, huge boulders, green trees, glacial rivers, and even some budding rhododendrons. We are all so focused on getting there that we skipped the lunch stop.
The good times never last forever, and as the hail changed to rain and we covered our bags with liners/garbage bags we got to a small town. Based off the map, it looked like we had about an hour to Namche and we were only 200 meters above it. But we were caught up by a hidden la! So much climbing, and it was worse because mentally we weren’t prepared for it at all. I slowed way down, and thought that Jamie must at last catch us but there was still no sign of him. It took over an hour just to the top, where it was cloudy and windy and just about to snow.
There was a town, high above us, but it was too close. Namche would prove to be hours away. By now it was about 4 pm and getting dark–we’d left at 8 and hadn’t stopped for more than 15 minutes. We pressed on, and finally found a little town we’d passed through on the way out of Namche. There was a bakery there, and I got some pineapple cookies from the owner, a smiley lady who owned houses in Virginia and Colorado. Guess the bakery business is booming!
We waited here for 30 minutes, as it was growing dark and none of us felt happy with Jamie so far behind us. But then the snow started to really fall and it was getting quite dark–we had an hour to Namche and so pressed on. The snow was beautiful and the last hour was quite nice.
We got into Namche, freezing and covered in snow. The 3 of us got one room to share (50 rupees each) and then went off to load up on pringles and chocolate and bakery goods. I bought a Fanta, the first soda I had in Nepal. Talked with some other trekkers for a bit–everyone was duly impressed that we’d come all the way from Gokyo. But it was an early night, and we were low enough that I didn’t have any crazy dreams at all.
From/To: Gokyo to Namche
Elevation: 3440 meters
Lodge: Valley View Lodge
Budget: 1530 rupees