I started back down from Gokyo in partial sunshine. It had rained and snowed alternately all night and was very cold. Of course that led me to overdress and I had to stop early on to shed a couple of layers and my long johns. Only met about six people on the way to Macherma and two of them were Elias and Bridget. Elias didn”t look good at all. I think only his determination and the delightful presence of Bridget got him on the trail today. We exchanged news and pleasantries then off on our separate ways. Not too much further on I met a couple from California who had lent me a charging cord for my iPhone the previous night (Yea!) They were traveling with a Sherpa guide. He was in a family masonry contracting business and she a psychoanalist. He had decided to leave the family business, they sold their home and decided to do some traveling during this transition. She had been sick the last few days so they were also heading down. They were moving a little slowly so off I went knowing we would both be at the Dole Resort that night. Our dinner that evening was shortened by the yak stove lighting – we were all tired and retreated our sleeping bags. The trip to Namche from Dole started out much the same as the previous day. Sunshine in the morning and then getting cloudy with sleet an hour or so later. I pulled out my hooded rain resistent jacket and another smart wool layer and snugged them onto the front of my pack. When it did start to rain a little more uncomfortably, I swung my pack off only to discover that both the jacket and the smart wool layer were gone. Damn – how could I be so careless. This was a little serious as I packed very little for clothing with the rest coming down with the porters in 4-5 days. I had met no one for some time so off I backtracked in the now steeply uphill direction – cussing myself the whole way. After a fairly long climb there it was, my prized jacket. A little further trek rewarded me with a nice 200 weight smart wool shirt! Another lesson I will probably learn over and over again.
The approach to Namche included several wyes as the trail headed off in several different directions. There are no signs on these trails. When I got to what I thought was the first one I pulled out the map. Stay to the right. It looked to me that I should be traveling to the left but who’s to argue with the map! I had met no one for quite a while and wished now that someone more knowledgeable would come trotting along.I finally decided to trust the map and headed up the hill. I discovered later that I hadn’t even noticed the first right and this was the second wye where I should be going left. I went up for a fair distance to a small community where I met a young man on the trail. He told me he was an internet system repair man and was heading for the Hillary School to work on their internet problems. I told him where I wanted to go and he looked at me with a broad smile, “you’ve gone the wrong direction, you should be heading down the mountain, not up. Since I was over halfway he suggested I continue on past the Hillary hospital and then on a Sherpa trail back down to Namche.
It was pretty cool to feel all the energy coming from the young people involved in both the school and hospital. I suddenly felt more alive despite the long trek. Workers abounded around both facilities including rock masons chipping away at stones which had been carried on the backs of porters from a stone quarry that I later walked right by on my travel down the Sherpa shortcut to Namche. It was an extremely steep drop down into Namche. I was so happy that I was going down. Since the trail was not very distinct from other small “goat” trails criss-crossing it, I continually asked Sherpa people for reassuring directions until Namche became visible and the direction was obvious.I received a warm welcome from my week-old friends at the Thawa Lodge. Life is good.