Up early to a very damp room with condensation streaming down the windows. A wet towel (from yesterday’s shower) greeted me as I pulled back the curtains, making the black tea that accompanied the Exodus wake up call was welcome!
A glorious start to the day with clear blue skies. A quick cold shower and a dry off with the wet towel and then off for breakfast of porridge with a large quantity of honey, an omelette, toast and tea. An ideal start to the day!
After departing shortly after 8am, we start to climb almost immediately following the western side of the river which we will cross several times during the day over increasingly spectacular bridges.
By lunch (in Monjo) my towel had dried, having been tied to the top of my day pack, enabling me to replace it with my solar panel (21watt Anker) held in place by a couple of karabiners. A good charge from the walk even with tree cover and cloud cover later on as we climbed up to Namche from the High Bridge.
After lunch we are treated to views of the sacred mountain Khumbi Yul Mi (Khumbila) – which translated means God of Khumbu, this being the Khumbu Valley at the head of which is the Khumbu Glacier and the Khumbu Icefall just above Everest Base Camp.
A short stop for one of a few geocaches in our route before continuing upstream to the junction of two rivers with a pair of dramatic bridges that can be seen tantalisingly from some distance. The crossing was one of the many anticipated highlights of the trip and did not disappoint! We took the upper bridge known logically as the High Bridge. Thankfully it didn’t have quite the Millennium Bridge wobble of some of the others we had crossed but was satisfyingly high with impressive views.
From here it was a long and arduous climb to Namche Bazaar that brought back memories of the “Kili Shuffle” as the pace is necessarily slow. After a couple of ours climbing we reached the Namche check point for trekkers suggesting we are almost done for the day- No! We carry on uphill and reach a promising cluster of buildings but have sill further to go! We continue further up and reach a view of what is the heart of Namche with a Stupa in the foreground next to a stream in which the locals are washing their clothes.
The village is set around a natural bowl and is a trading centre for the local area. It is also a popular point for trekkers and climbers with a good number of shops / hotels etc as well as a bank – probably the last we will see until we come back though on our way home!
Unfortunately my description of the village is based on the guide book as when we arrive the place is shrouded in cloud. Hopefully tomorrow will bring better weather and the chance of a photo or two…
We are staying at The Green Tara Hotel which on arrival appeared to be heavily guarded but, despite the horns, we entered safely for a welcome tea and an enticing menu of local food. Whilst meat is on the list it is off our agenda – so an almost veggie week for me (I have packed some cured meat for emergencies!).
After ordering and before eating a few of us head into the shops to purchase some essentials and I rekindle my bartering skills on a long sleeved base layer as the thick merino wool ones I brought are far too hot at this altitude!
A few statistics about the day:
Height gained – 784m
Height ascended 1057m
Height descended 273m
Distance travelled 11.4km
Time Phakding – Namche – 8 hrs 32
Average speed 1.4kmh inc all breaks