Wednesday, September 5, 2012

EBC TREK: Back to Lukla (Days 10-13)

DAY 10: Gorak Shep to Dingboche

          We began the return trip by hiking back to Dingboche. We made a quick pit-stop in Lobuche, but only for as long as was necessary. About half-way back to Dingboche (from Lobuche), the wind suddenly picked up, there was an instant drop in temperature, and thick clouds rolled in right on top of us-- all this accompanied by a light snowfall. After almost getting lost in the fog, we finally arrived back at Dingboche-- two hours after we'd planned.  
          This time we stayed at a guesthouse recommended to Leanne by a Sherpa-dude that she met in Gorak Shep (Moonlight- 200 NRS/night). It was infinitely better than the guesthouse we stayed in the last time we were here. Everything was new and clean and it was run by a friendly family staff. The common room was actually warm (that yak dung stove actually worked) and each bedroom had it's own bathroom. For us this was luxury accommodation for $2.25 USD/night! I ate Indian food-- Daal Baat-- for dinner and they gave me free refills. Then, the Sherpa-dude that ran the guesthouse sat us down for a pretty incredible story.

          He told us of how his son had summited Everest seven times-- once, he summited twice in one week-- before his was 27 years-old. On one expedition he and another Sherpa saved the wife and daughter of a rich client going to the summit. To repay his thanks for saving his family, the millionaire flew the two Sherpas to the U.S. where he owns a watch company (Kobold watches). The thankful millionaire put the two Sherpas up and paid all expenses for 10 months as they trained and learned everything there is to know about watch-making. Now, the two Sherpas run the Kobold factory in Kathmandu, make more money than they could've dreamed of before, and they never again have to risk their lives in the mountains. Pretty sweet story.  

DAY 11: Dingboche to Tengboche

          For the first time in a long time I woke up feeling pretty refreshed. We had an early start and the weather on the trial was great all day. As we continued to drop in elevation the change was noticeable. By the time we reached the treeline (about half-way back to Tengboche) I felt much more energized, clear, breathing was easier, and I was even to get down to a short-sleeve T.
Baby Himalayan Goatcowsheephorseyakdog...
AKA... the Remus.
          On a hillside I noticed what I first thought was yak that had strayed from home. He was stumbling and making strange noises and I got closer I decided that it was more likely a super-hybrid of a goat-cow-sheep-horse-yak-dog. This may be what many people have witnessed as the legendary yeti or abominable snowman. I call him by a new name... the Remus-monster.
"YETI SKULL" at a Buddhist monastery
          The second half of the day's trek was much longer than any of us had remembered and the ascent at the end was seriously steep. When we had set out on our return trip I thought, “Well, it's all downhill from here... literally!” Wrong. I guess I never noticed all the downhill sections of the trek on our way up to Base Camp. When you're walking downhill it's easy and there's no reason to remember that specific section of the hike. However, on the way back, alllll those descents are now ascents and there's no way around them. By the time we reached Tengboche we were all beat. We checked in once again at the Bakery where Mike and I mashed chicken burgers and fries (No more Sherpa stew!), apple pie, for two much-needed and well-deserved beers. 

DAY 12: Tengboche to Monju

          We got started at 9 am and the first task was to tackle the mountain that Tengboche sits atop of. Luckily, this time we were going down. Still, it was steep and rocky and five steps into the descent, Brittany fell on her ass- not off to a happy start. Mike went ahead and I walked with Britt and Leanne. It took Mike only 45 minutes to get down and it ended up taking the three of us closer to an hour and a half. We rendezvoused at the bottom of the mountain and Mike decided to go ahead again, at a faster pace, and meet us at Namche Bazaar.
Doin work!
          Slowly but surely we went up and down over peaks and through valleys and finally we arrived back at Namche and met Mike at the Everest Bakery. We ate (I usually don't support veggie-burgers, but this place did it right), rested, and got back on the trail for the final leg to Monju ( or Monzu). It took about 45 minutes to descend from Namche but other than the uneven terrain it was fairly easy.  Together, we crossed the suspension bridge that I remembered so vividly from the first half of the trek and we pressed on at a good pace to Monju. Just as it was getting dark we checked in at Mt. Kailash (guesthouse) and sprang (700 NRS/ $7.85 USD) for a room with a bathroom and a hot shower.
          The day's trek was supposed to take about four hours, instead it took closer to seven. I let Britt take the first shower and I laid on the bed resting from the long day. This hot shower added an extra 200 NRS to the cost of the room, but I didn't care. I deserved it. When Britt finished I walked into the bathroom eager to get clean and warm with the hot water. Unfortunately, she used all of the gas for the heater and I was sprayed with ice water. At least it woke me up.

FINAL DAY of trekking- DAY 13: Monju to Lukla

          Everyone was up and ready to go in a good mood. We ate breakfast at Mt. Kailash and enjoyed the deck-view overlooking the river not too far below. It started out as a beautiful day and the weather was perfect. I was still sick but felt much better and was really enjoying hiking again. The lower altitude was so much better to hike in. There's thicker oxygen to breath and birds to listen to. Once again below the tree line, you trade the dusty landscape for waterfalls and rhododendrons. The scenery is sightly and the weather is enjoyable.
          We made a pit-stop in Pakding and ate some steamed momos for the last time. We filled our water bottles and started out on the final leg of our two-week ultra-trek and... rain. Everyone had rain gear except for Mike who wrapped himself in blue plastic and looked like a Smurf-wizard. I didn't mind the rain. I actually enjoyed it. Thick fog and clouds rolled in to accompany the rain and swallowed us whole. It felt like we were on the path to Moridor.  Good thing the Smurf-wizard was there to protect us.
          We hobbled along the cobble stone path, over a couple more bridges and conquered the closing ascent of our trek. At the edge of town in Lukla, we passed through the archway that signified our start, and now our finish.
crossing the finish line...  VICTORY!


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