Day 4-6: Namche Bazaar to Dingboche
Day 4: Namche Bazaar to Tengboche, 4 hours 30 minutes
It was a big day for us, heading deeper and deeper into the Himalayas where the temperature really starts to drop, the prices on food triple, and the altitude starts to become a problem for some trekkers. For the first couple of hours we were walking straight at Mt. Everest, talk about motivation! Our end goal insight, just miles and miles of hills, trees, and mountains in between. Everday the trail descends somewhere around 700ft/200m all the way down to the river, and then climbs STARIGHT back up higher & higher. I felt like I was climbing a mini-Everest on the hike up to Tengboche! We ascended 2,000ft/600m in just 2 hours. I kept trudging along with a nice little melody stuck in my head, bopping along one foot after the other. Why do other hikers who are merrily headed down the mountain always have to stop while grinning, and say, ”Keep on it! Just an hour or so left!?!” That is not what someone who is red in the face, sweating, and huffing & puffing, cares to hear! However, minus the huffing and puffing, the hike was truly beautiful. White peaks were everywhere, peering out over the dense forest we were lost in, the only sounds were my footsteps, my breathing, and the turquoise colored river rushing 1,600ft/500m below. It was one of those moments you want to take away and remember forever, when you are fully heartedly in the moment, when the sights & smells around you are truly captivating. I was in one of those.
Half collapsing as I reached the little mountain village of Tengboche, Rhys was running circles around me. He actually ran down to me, took my bag, and ran ahead yelling back, “Wait till you see this place!” Totally unfazed by all the hiking, the up hill, and the thinning air. I am convinced he was a sherpa or a porter in a previous life. Not only did he jog up the damn mountain, he was also carrying a 40lb. bag full of our warm gear and sleeping bags! He was determined to complete this monstrous trek on his own. I must admit that there was an extra ‘pizzazz’ knowing we were doing the hike on our own with no help. Just us, our map, and a few copied pages out of a guidebook. Well, I guess I wasn’t exactly doing it on my own because Rhys was definitely my porter!
Tengboche was easily our favorite little village we stayed at. Like every other place in the Everest Region, it sits in a small valley with enormous mountains in all directions. However, Tengboche stands outs from the rest because of a large, beautiful monastery that accounts for most of the village. All of the people we met who were headed down and back to Kathmandu, instructed us to go straight to the Tengboche bakery for some fresh oven-baked treats. Advice: Do this. The apple pie and chocolate brownies are the bomb after making it up that relentless hike up. We finished the day huddled around an ox dung stove, playing cards with a few porters staying at our tea house, and planning out tomorrow’s hike to Dingboche.
Day 5: Tengboche to Dingboche, 4 hours 30 minutes
HALFWAY POINT! We’ve made it to our halfway mark at the little sunny village in Dingboche (14,450ft/4410m). Word on the trail was we were very lucky to be hiking. No flights had been in or out of Lukla in the last 5 days (when the clouds roll in, they take forever to leave the low valley Lukla airport sits in). The lack of flights granted us peace and quiet and no hordes of hikers or groups. We walked past a herd of mountain goats, the king male showing off for the spectators below, standing on top of a rock with his lion-like mane blowing in the breeze. The day’s hike proved to be just as beautiful as ever, the mountains were electrifying to look at, their white peaks in perfect contrast with the endless baby blue sky. Gazing around at the enormity of the mountains around us, we were simply two little dots walking between the giants of the world. Two dots walking around, faithfully following a dusty yak path from one mountain village to the next. Life seemed to good to be true. As we waltzed into Dingboche I was all smiles, our teahouse was at the foot of Mt. Ama Dablam. Ama Dablam is by-far the most picturesque mountain in the Everest Region, and one of the most stunning mountains in the world. A textbook cone shape, straight up and down from ever angle, making it one of the most technically difficult mountains for climbers to summit. Our bedroom window looked up at this beautiful mass of rock and snow!
Day 6: Acclimatization Day in Dingboche
We had ascended nearly 3,500 ft/1,060m since our last acclimatizing day and were due for another day to ‘rest’ and let our bodies change with the thinning air. For the first time in the hike I could really feel the altitude and thinness of the air. Thankfully, neither of us felt sick and weren’t experiencing any symptoms related to altitude sickness, but we could definitely feel the thinness of the air with every breath. We spent the day hiking because the key to acclimatizing is ‘climb high, sleep low’. So we ventured to Dingboche’s highest point which offered remarkable views of the world’s fourth (Lhotse) and fifth (Makalu) highest mountains. Everyday felt like a dream with every hike and new town, we saw more and more of the highest mountains in the world. Astonishing. Marvelous. Incredible. Breathtaking. Incomprehensible beauty– everyday, all day. The short 45 minute walk-up took us past old Buddhist prayer stupas, streams of prayer flags, and locals with baskets strapped to their backs scouring the mountain for yak dung to feed the night’s fire. ’Sherpa Rhys’ decided he hadn’t had enough hiking for the day and ventured even higher up the mountain to around 16,000ft/5,000m! I called it quits and headed back down to attempt my first wash-up. Keep in my mind that 6 days of hiking in the sun, uphill… makes you really smelly. It was freezing cold outside, but I ordered a bucket of boiled water and made an attempt to feel semi-human and semi-clean again. It didn’t really work, & I made more of a mess than it was worth, but the smell of soap did linger on my skin for a few hours after…! That night we were huddled around the yak dung stove trying to keep warm with a group of hikers from all over the place. The windows started glowing and we all ran outside to catch one of the most striking sunsets any of us had ever seen. The sky was pink, the mountains were on fire, and the moon was shining bright. Just another night in the Nepalese Himalayas.
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