Lukla to Namche Bazaar: Trekking in Nepal

      We didn’t intend to visit Nepal.  It wasn’t on the original itinerary.   We were thinking about the Himalayas, the tallest mountains in the world.  We wouldn’t be able to get there until late November.   We knew it would be too cold. But in Nairobi I met a woman from Kathmandu.  Her stories got me interested.  She told me the weather would be comfortable and the scenery would be unforgettable.  I looked online for tickets from Delhi to Kathmandu.  They were cheap.  I mentioned it to Bill, who hesitantly said okay.  That was enough for me to buy the tickets.
      We weren’t quite ready for Nepal, though.  We had only packed for warm weather.  We never dreamed we be hiking up at 3400 meters.  We borrowed coats, hats, and long johns.  We were happy we did.  Although it was almost December it was actually very pleasant…during the day.  At night it dipped below freezing, and the extra layers came in handy.  On the way home we got stuck for an extra day in Lukla because of rain.  Without the sun warming the mountains, we were cold even wearing our coats and hats in bed in the middle of the afternoon.
     Much worse than the cold temperatures were the runs.   Bill got two rounds of the stomach flu while we were up in the mountains.  He had to hike much of the time while sick.  The kids each got sick as well.  But all this suffering did not dampen the emotional effect of Nepal.  It is truly an awe inspiring place.
      We hiked from Lukla up to Namche Bazaar from where you can see Mt. Everest.  Below are the photos.  Unfortunately, the photos, as beautiful as they are, just can’t do justice to these mountains.
      To get to the trailhead in Lukla we had to fly into the mountains, not literally, but at times it really looked like we might.  The runway slants upwards by 10 degrees to slow the plane on landing before it crashes into the side of a mountain.
We found the air sickness bag on the flight quite amusing.  I love that she’s wearing a sari.  Luckily we didn’t have to use it.  That came after the flight.
The trail is approximately 16 km long.  Mostly uphill along the Dudh Koshi River that runs from the glaciers of Mt Everest.  We had to cross over the river many times.  This was the first of many suspension bridges we walked over.  It was the scariest of all of them as it was in the worst condition.  Most of the bridges went over the river of milky blue water.  The rush of the water underneath created intense vertigo.
Yes, vertigo.
The turquoise color of the water was phenomenal, though, and I found myself just stopping to stare at the water.  I was awe struck thinking that this water ran off of the tallest mountain in the world to flow under my feet.
The yaks had the right of way over the bridges.  These are actually not true yaks but a hybrid of cattle and yaks called zopkyos in Sherpa.
Prayer rocks (manis) were frequent along the trail.  The words “om mani padme hum” are painted or carved over and over and over again on the rocks.  The prayer spreads good will over all who pass.  It was a difficult hike, and we needed all the good will we could get.  One’s supposed to pass on the left. We tried to always pass on the left.  Sometimes this meant extra steps.  Sometimes it just wasn’t possible.
Our second day of hiking was even more difficult.  We climbed over 600 meters in about 5 kilometers.  Sure we weren’t packing the 60-80 kg this guy was, but Bill and Hank were packing a stomach bug.  The walk was slow.
On the trail up we caught a glimpse of Mt. Everest.  The prayer flags were also spreading more of that good Buddhist good will as they flapped in the breeze.
Even when we made it to Namche, we still had a fair amount of climbing.  Our hotel was near the top of this bowl.
We made it, though.  Here is a view of Namche from above.
Same view with children.
This is what we saw from our hotel room.  The fog rolled in almost everyday in the afternoon, and the temperatures dropped.  It was kind of like Oakland in the summer.   Only colder and more spectacular.
This is in the courtyard of the temple above our hotel.  There is a museum here that explains the evolution of the Sherpa culture in the Khumbu Valley as well as the  practice of Buddhism here.  Although Buddha was born in Nepal and was enlightened in India, Buddhism came to Nepal from the north in Tibet.  There is still free trade of goods allowed between China and Nepal through this mountain corridor.
This path is lined with a collection of spinning manis.  These manis, like the rocks, are carved or molded or painted with the words “om mani padme hum”.  They are spun, and with the spinning they spread good will.  We tried to spin them, always clockwise, whenever we passed.
We went on a couple of hikes once everyone was well.  With all our prayers being answered we got to see a little bit of wildlife like this herd of seven or eight mountain goats.  We looked for but never saw a yeti.  Bill took these wonderful photos of the Himalayas.  Admire the photos, then if you love mountains, go see them yourself.  They are far more magical than can be shown in the photos.  I can’t believe it took me almost 50 years to get there.  I hope to go back before another 50 years pass.
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