Wednesday, June 15, 2016

An attempt at 3 passes - Day 2 to Namche

As is the practice, we started our day early and started the hike towards Namche at 7:30 am. Having done this hike 18 months ago on way to EBC, I knew that this was going to be a tough day and I had informed my fellow hikers about same. There are two villages on the way to Namche - Monjo and Jorsale. After Jorsale, there are no more places for a formal halt - which means we need to carry water and food that we might need on the steep hike that makes the journey from Jorsale to Namche.

Just above Monjo is the entrance checkpoint for the Sagarmatha National Park, where TIMS card and national park receipt is checked. And soon after that is Jorsale. We had a short tea halt before check point and even then we were in Jorsale by 10 am. Now this was way too early for lunch but I knew the tough day that lay ahead of us, so I forced my fellow hikers to eat something and to pack some Tibetan bread (with jam & butter) for the road. I filtered the water using  my personal water filter because I wasn't sure I would get any tap water later on and rest of the group bought bottled water.

Thus prepared we left Jorsale for Namche at 10:30 am. At first it didn't seem tough but about 30 minutes into this latter part of the hike, came the steep inclines. We had to first climb upto the higher suspension bridge, cross that and resume the hike to Namche.

Easier beginning - walking next to Dudh Koshi
Beginning of the steep inclines

Once I started to ascend, I started to remember the trail - the place where we shared a joke or where we stopped for a photo shoot. It felt wonderful at first, but at every such memory stop, I also recalled how far I was from the destination for the day and that didn't help at all! The two gentlemen were way ahead of us backpacking women and often we would find them waiting for us in shade somewhere, looking thoroughly bored.

Climbing much higher than the second suspension bridge
Almost halfway between Jorsale and Namche is a place where one can find a tap and some toilets - both very important. Former because that is the only source of water on this part of trail and if you have a filter you don't have to lug the water from below. Latter because this trail was very crowded and it wasn't easy to find a secluded spot to void the bladder. This spot even had a vendor selling fruits and bottled water (at exorbitant prices). All in all a good place for a break especially because it has a large tree underneath which a manmade structure allows you to rest. The trail is very dusty and its almost impossible to take breaks except at designated places.
We continued our hike slowly - primarily because of me and AD as backpacks had slowed us down significantly. Slowly we made way through the very dusty and steeply inclined trail and took a break to eat some of the Tibetan bread we were carrying only to find that we were just 200 m from the Namche check hindsight we shouldn't have taken the break.

Namche...phew we made it!

After checking in, we proceeded to Namche Bazaar. I was extremely relieved to see the entrance to the village, even though our lodge was still more than a couple of hundred steps away. Based on my previous experience, we had decided to stay at Camp de Base and it turned out to be a great choice especially with the hot water available in the attached bathroom (thanks to the solar power)

We reached our destination at 2 pm and while there were folks (with heavier backapcks) completing the same hike in 4 hours, I believe we did pretty well considering the fact that previous time we had reached Namche around 5 pm.

Namche is the last place, before you proceed further on the hikes in this region, where one can have all modern comforts - there are pubs, coffee shops, cyber cafes, ATM, shops of all kinds selling trekking gear and even those where you can rent down bags or jackets. So after a nice lunch and hot shower, we decided to check out the place and I found that many more shops and eating places have been added in the 18 months since my last visit. 

The rough day was behind us and we retired happy in the knowledge that next day we just had an acclimatization hike without our backpacks.

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