Day 13 – Namche Bazaar to Lukla

Looking south from the bottom of the descent from Namche Bazaar.
The final day is here, mostly down, but really one last day of Nepalese flat!

Begin: 3,440 mtrs
End: 2,800 mtrs
Distance: 18 kms
Duration: 3 hrs

Billed as the longest day’s walk, on retrospect, including the hike up and back Kala Patthar, that was the longest day. Today we will walk in one day what we took three days to do on the way up. There is some trepidation about managing the length of the walk, especially as there is a steady up-hill climb to negotiate as we wind our way up to Lukla after having descended.

Our first part is to go down the 800 mtrs from Namche Bazaar, a similar decline as what we negotiated yesterday. On our way up, this was the first “slowly, slowly” part of walk of any note, and going down for me the pace is too slow, I like “running” down hill, ok, not quite running, but at least moving quickly with the terrain, it is more energy to stop yourself than to just go with it. You have to be sure-footed though, and the pathway is anything but firm ground; full of pebbles, lose dirt and rocky ground. Just adds to the fun of it all.

It is again, just as it was on the way up, a beautiful valley once we are at the river’s banks, crossing it three times as we make our way to the park entrance at Monjo. It is still quite nice and clear, but soon the clouds will roll in, not as cold now as our altitude has dropped considerably. It is alot of up and downs now, negotiating the various gullies formed by streams, what little flat land there is is used for crops now. Finally, it is the last hill, the “climb” back up to Lukla, the town where we began, and where I will watch the late afternoon activity at the aeroport, as helicopters come and go, the planes long gone for the day.

Day 12 – Deboche to Namche Bazaar

Tengboche Monastery, its entrance, with the prayer wheel enclosures on either side.
The morning sparkling, a clear day to hike Namche Bazaar a short step away.

Begin: 3,770 mtrs
End: 3,440 mtrs
Distance: 10 kms
Duration: 3 hrs

At first, a final and quick visit to Tengboche Monastery as it sits on top of the pass that we go through. The view from the ridge in the clear light of morning is stunning, looking down about 700mtrs that we must traverse, before rising again to skirt the plateau on our way to Namche Bazaar. It is the same walk as we had done on the way up, and again it will be done in a short period of time. In a way it is strange, we could have probably managed to walk from Dingboche to Namche Bazaar in a day, and yet I find myself lingering, in my notes and on the path, trying to grab the moments, not wanting the trip to end. A day or more in Dingboche, some time to do day walks in the region, would have been lovely, it is a spectacular area, and with the monastery here at Tengboche, it also feels like an area to spend a bit of time in. But this is the pace of our lives now, we go somewhere, and once achieved, it is a quick way back to move on, to the next “big thing”.

The afternoons are problematic, it is night and day between the mornings, so clear, sunny, bright and even warm (well, lets say cool), against the dank, cold, overcast, gloomy afternoons as the clouds close in, presaging the coming monsoon that will soon inundate the area with rain and snow. Arriving at Namche Bazaar, walking around the town, going to visit the Sherpa museum with its history of the local people and their contribution to the various expeditions to “conquer the mountains”. I begin to appreciate my own achievement, and to understand just how much that depended on the good will and efforts of others; all I had to do was put one foot in front of the other, slowly, slowly!!

Interlude – Himalayan Peaks