Today I’ll try to catch up a little with events.
On October 7th we got a ride with Kelsang to Miss Elizabeth Hawley’s place. She is the Wikipedia of climbing in Nepal. Anyone climbing a peak higher than trekkers peaks (I believe 6000m and above) stops to register with her before they leave Kathmandu. They must also keep her informed of their results. There is nothing official or required governmentally – though all climbers do this to keep records complete. We were ushered in to meet this lady of somewhere between 80 and 90 years of age complete with a lovely British accent. Her home and office were comfortable in ways only time can create. She has a pleasant yet somehow brusque manner – to the point without being pushy. I’ve read about her and this climbing custom in books of famous climbs yet never imagine I would be here shaking her hand. We completed our business with her and said our goodbyes. A great experience for me.
This is our last day in Kathmandu. Tomorrow we leave at 6am on a flight to Lukla. The smog is atrocious and the nights are noisy. A dinner out with our host Suku and we were all off to bed. Still no info about return tickets and the wi-fi is not working.
On October 8th we boarded a 12 passenger twin engine plane for our ride to Lukla. It was truly an amazing trip. The mountains and mountain ridges were tightly packed, leaving steep short valleys. Impossible terrain for road building. Large mountains were on every side and small villages were spread sparsely on heavily wooded mountainsides. Everything travels to and from villages from here on by either the crossbreed yak/cow or human porters. They use these cross-breed animals because it is too warm for yaks. Further up in the mountains we will see only yaks. The landing was on an uphill slope with a very short runway. Quite an experience heading for a runway that looks more like a wall.
After sorting out our gear and finding our porters in Lukla we headed out on the trekking trail. We were all carrying 46 liter packs with everything we might need for the day plus articles we were not sure we wanted to trust to the rougher hands of our porters (computers, etc.) It was a pleasant warm day for the type of hike we could not find anywhere else. This part of the world is like no where else on earth. Scenery is unparallelled. The trail itself is mainly rocky and steep. The right of way on the trail is yaks first, then porters and finally trekkers. We traveled through small villages greeted by stupas, prayer flags and prayer wheels, and buildings fashioned by rock. Mostly metal roofs. People carried amazingly heavy loads, even the women. The owners of the Mountain Resort where we were spending the night, were relatives of Nima Sherpa, our host in Kathmandu.
The trek to Namche Bazaar started out much like the previous days but then became very steep during our second half. I was quite sick and struggled with the effects of altitude since I had such a compromised system. I was only able to manage three hours of sleep the night before. We went through three checkpoints along the way, they looked at our TIMS cards that allowed us to trek and later our permits to enter the National Park. I was relieved to finally reach Namche Bazaar after 6 hours of difficult trekking. We settled into the Thawa Inn which again had connections to Nima. Breakfasts and dinners are served at these “tea houses” for a fee of course but they are quite comfortable. This one has wi-fi and can recharge our batteries. Thus I am able to write this entry to catch up on days it wasn’t possible.
Today Lonnie, Pascale and I went to the Sherpa Museum, originally created by Edmund Hilary as a climbing museum. Pascale had joined us at Kathmandu – Lonnie had met her on a ferry near Haines Alaska last spring. She is a chemical engineer who spent the last ten years working for a firm devising and building systems that can burn garbage and create electricity. Despite building two successful large systems this firm had gone bankrupt. Pascale is taking some time off to travel. This museum also has many artifacts of Sherpa culture. We also had lunch at a charming little Sherpa teahouse where the proprietor cooked our mo-mos right in front of us. No bigger than my kitchen at home, this little space was filled with unforgettable aromas within minutes. It was a very pleasant way to spend a part of our day.
Tomorrow we continue our journey – i hurried through this post but hope to be more regular with my writing from now on. Hoping the local meds will restore my energy as well.