Trekking in Nepal: Everest Region and Gokyo Lakes

In April of 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook Nepal, taking the lives of thousands, destroying buildings and entire livelihoods, and creating a wave of aftershocks, landslides and avalanches.

Durbar Square- Pre and Post Earthquake

One year later, Nepal is still struggling to rebuild, crying out for crucial funds to repair this crumbling country.DSC_2116Now tourism has always been one of the main sources of income for these people, so on the anniversary of the earthquake, I traveled to Nepal, to understand firsthand about their struggles, to discover the natural beauty of this country, and complete a two-week trek to Everest Base Camp.DSC_2383I flew to Kathmandu from Bangkok with Royal Thai Airways. I had an excellent on-board lunch and a comfortable flight, at an affordable 400 USD round-trip.

Fish curry, rice, and shrimp salad

Now, here is my trekking map of the Everest Region to orient yourself. I first flew to Lukla, then trekked clockwise, reaching Gokyo Ri, crossing Chola Pass, summitting Kalapatthar, and conquering Everest Base Camp (E.B.C.). 😀Everest-base-camp-trek-mapI chose a package tour through Nepal Social Treks, which included all meals, accommodation, guide, porter (to carry my bags), trekking permit, and internal flights. dsc Upon arrival I was greeted by Ram from Nepal Social Treks and transferred to my hotel.13006590_10105223268340257_7054744297951897076_nWhile in Kathmandu I stayed at Hotel Arts- a modern hotel in the tourist district of Thamel. IMG_9590

On my first night in the city I had dinner at the “Little Italy” of Kathmandu. 😛

Chicken Cacciatore with pasta

I ate with Ram and Basu, two friends that had been running Nepal Social Treks for over 10 years. Basu speaks fluent Nepali, English, Mandarin and Japanese. He also has the travel bug like me. 🙂1912050_10153427163991258_8014256416783100177_nOn the other hand, Ram just got married, hosting a wedding with over 700 people, and now his wife works for the company as a receptionist.12795518_10153666386417670_3162451127359880787_nAlong with trekking, the company is also a social enterprise to aid mountain communities in times of natural disaster.

We discussed a lot over dinner, about the struggles to rebuild after the devastating earthquake- many villages have yet to repair the roofs on their homes, which will be essential prior to the monsoon season in June.DSC_1987Additionally, since September 2015, Nepal has experienced a humanitarian and economic crisis- a blockade with India, meaning denial of fuel, gasoline, vegetables, and supplies, like vaccines.

Basu and Ram both seemed optimistic about the future of Nepal, seeing that tourism is on the rise, and any income generated will greatly support the rebuild of Nepal. 🙂

Anyway, after dinner, I bid adieu to the boys and made my way back to rest up for an early morning, and the beginning of my trek to Everest Base Camp. 😀

Flight to Lukla

I left the hotel by 6 AM, bound for Lukla airport- the world’s most dangerous airport.DSC_1906I flew with Goma airlines, along with 16 other people on my flight.plasdEmotions were running high as we packed into a tiny Twin Otter Plane and I was told to grab a seat on the left for stunning views. Surely, I was not disappointed.13072875_10105225897940517_280329054374551275_oMy palms began to sweat as the plane swayed to a fro, gliding over white capped mountain peaks, and feeling comforted only by the knowledge of my safety manual, and the sweet taste of the hard candy given to me by the stewardess. 😛

Nervous smile 🙂

No fooling me though! This was no sugar rush I was experiencing, but pure adrenaline, baby. 😀

What makes this flight so dangerous is not only the turbulent ride, but the fear of a safe landing- navigating without GPS– only visual cues. DSC_1905Thankfully, after a quick 35-minute flight, we had a safe landing, as everyone clapped and cheered, and we proceeded to baggage claim.sdfdvvxAt that point, I met my guide for the trek, Norris.

Do you know that feeling you get when you meet someone, and immediately feel like everything’s going to be OK? That’s how I felt when I met Norris. 🙂IMG_9901He was calm, with a friendly smile, and a genuine concern for my well-being. From Lukla, we began a two-hour trek to Phakding, where we would break for lunch.

“Rebellious” Lukla, with its cluster of foreign cafes, including an unauthorized Starbucks. How risqué! 😮

While on the trek from Lukla to Phakding we passed through many local villages, and Norris talked to me about the vegetation here, like wheat, barley, potatoes, cabbage, and onion.

Spring Onion and butterflies

All of which ceases to grow after 5,000 meters.DSC_2004For the rest of the food and supplies, the lodges depend on mules, yaks, and horses to carry it up from Lukla. DSC_1962Speaking of food, once in Phakding, we feasted on a Nepali staple called Dal Bhat- a vegetable set of lentil soup, potato curry, and rice.DSC_1975Now don’t be surprised if you hit the salt shaker multiple times on this lack-luster dish. The only good thing about Dal Bhat is that you get free refills. If you want them, that is. :/

Luckily, as part of my tour package, I was able to choose any dish I wanted for breakfast, lunch or dinner. DSC_2068It may sound fabulous, but on this trek, ordering anything off the menu was like raiding a college dorm fridge or maybe a fallout shelter. Hah! 😛

Yes, I’ll take the cheese macaroni sprinkled with a few crackers, or maybe a nice ramen sandwich. Carbs with a side of processed cheese, please. 😛sdc

The irony here being, that even the most basic of ingredients are not budget friendly- especially the higher you climb.

$5 toast + $5 boiled eggs + $5 milk coffee= $15 breakfast

These must be some fancy chickens. 😛DSC_2044All jokes aside, the inflation here is mainly due to the manual labor necessary to bring up the food and supplies. These people surely deserve every cent for what they do. 😀

Old man carrying wooden boards with his forehead

Anyway, after some Dal Bhat fuel, we powered on Jorsalle, where we would stay for the evening.

Trek to Jorsalle

DSC_1936On this leg of the journey, we crossed a series of six suspension bridges. IMG_0028Now don’t get too worried! If the horses can cross it, so can we. 🙂DSC_2025On our walk, I got to know more about Norris and his life. He was raised in a mountain village with his 10 brothers and sisters.DSC_1999He received no formal education, aside from three years in his local school. When he was seven his father died, and four years later, his mother passed away. At that point, he decided to leave his village. At only 14 years of age he left for the city of Kathmandu, where he lived and worked for a Nepali man. The man taught him how to read and write English, and how to cook Western food. When he was 19, he became a trekking guide and has been so ever since. 🙂

Along with Norris, the porter who carried my backpack was Yvbraj, which means “prince” in Nepali. Oddly enough, Norris’s real name is actually Ufraj, which means “king”. I told them I felt fortunate to be surrounded by such royalty. 😉DSC_2058On the trek Norris gave me many tips for the trail. He reminded to keep drinking water to avoid altitude sickness, to apply sunscreen daily, to stay close to the mountainside when livestock was crossing, and above all, he kept telling me to slow down and enjoy. 😀

He said he wanted me to take in the scenery, and make my experience as memorable as possible. No worries there. 🙂

The Dudh Koshi or Milk River, aptly named for its winding white rapids.

DSC_1983Anyway, after two hours of trekking, we arrived in Jorsalle and settled in for the evening.

Trek to Namche

On day three we trekked to Namche Bazaar, elevation 3440 meters. IMG_9726This stretch was three hours of stairs, laced with brief stops to let livestock pass.DSC_2148DSC_2397Luckily I had a furry companion keep me company along the way, and some Enrique Iglesias music to keep me motivated. 😉DSC_2032The trail was extremely dusty today, and I alternated watching my step along the rocky trail, and gazing up at the glorious mountain peaks. 🙂
Upon arrival in Namche, we checked into our accommodation, the Comfort Inn.DSC_2064 The named seemed to be the ultimate irony, considering the “comfort” promised was in short supply. 😛brI will say though this was the best food I’ve had so far. For lunch I decided on a delicious buffalo steak with garlic gravy. Superb! 😀DSC_2066 For dinner I had the roast chicken with vegetables. Absolutely divine!DSC_2081I was told it was OK to eat meat in Namche, or so I thought… 😥

Cue Cher.
l;mThe lyrics speak the truth. If I could turn back time. If I could walk away. I’d put the fork down. Period. 😛

You see, once you enter Sagarmatha National Park (a.k.a. the Everest region), it is prohibited to kill animals.IMG_9713

As such, all meat is flown in, then carried to these lodges by porters.

Porters carrying goods up the mountainside

This process can take days or weeks, with the meat sitting in hot and unsanitary conditions. Yuck! large_DSC_0096For this reason, I got extremely ill from the steak and chicken. 😦

Now dietary indiscretion is the last thing you want when trekking for long hours, so from there on out I went on a strict bland diet.

Porridge- the breakfast, lunch, and dinner of champions. 😛

Anyway, after lunch I visited the Sherpa museum and local monastery. I learned how the people of Namche had come here from Tibet over 300 years ago. They were initially very poor, barely surviving in this community, with the struggle of growing proper produce at this elevation.DSC_1930Then, after the first expedition to Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary, this area saw a boom of tourism. People from around the globe came here to see Everest, and with it, they brought their money.DSC_2106It was because of the Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation that a school was established here, and a hospital.DSC_2102On our walk, we even saw a ceremony for the construction of a new hospital. Fantastic! DSC_2074Overall, the Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation played a large role in boosting education in the region, and particularly helped a man named Mingma Norbu Sherpa. He met Hillary when he was a small child, and was one of the first students to attend his school. He later received a scholarship to attend university in New Zealand and in Canada. Later Mingma established the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee, which keeps the region clean.DSC_2140As a local, he understands the importance that religion plays in that movement. He was once quoted for saying, “If the llama talks, everyone listens (referring to Buddhist Dalai Llama). If a politician talks, no one listens.” Basically, in order for cooperation, the Nepali people need to be told by religious leaders.

Fittingly, after the school, we stopped by a local Tibetan monastery where only one monk lives.

Prayer wheels

It felt very personal, like stepping into his home. Norris translated as he told us about his preparation for the annual ceremony at this site. I appreciated his time, so we made a small donation, then returned back to town.

After our walk, I was free to walk the village, so I wandered into a cafe with WiFi for a coffee and pastry. caI met a women sitting behind me from Brazil and immediately began to converse with her about the trek. She was on a trek with an American based company called G Adventures. She was the only girl with three other Europeans. Talking with her I learned that I was getting a good deal with my company, since she paid the same price, but her trek did not include meals. Later, a woman from New York came to join us. She had chosen a private tour, which included a helicopter down from base camp- a whopping 7,000 USD. Wow! I guess it pays to do your research. 🙂

Anyway, after coffee, the three of us went shopping in the village, and I picked up a wool hat and Nalgene water bottle. IMG_9720 The Nalgene water bottle is glorious, and serves many purposes:

  1. Tap water is non-potable, so your only options are boiled water or bottled 
  2. Bottled water can be expensive and bad for the environment
  3. At higher elevations, temps are frigid, and cradling a Nalgene with boiling water can be a source of warmth in the night 😛
Bedtime routine: fully dressed in parka, wrapped in a cocoon of sleeping bags and comforters, grasping my baby Nalgene. 😛

Anyway, after shopping I retired to my hotel for a shower. They have gas operated hot water, so the water was great, but these “luxuries” like basic hygiene come at a hefty price-$4 a pop. 

$4 shower, $3 to charge phone, $2 for water

Anyway, our plan now was to stay in Namche for two days total. The main reason we stay so long is to avoid AMS or Acute Mountain Sickness.DSC_2006AMS develops at higher altitudes, and although it may start with minor symptoms, such as fatigue and shortness of breath, it can be fatal, causing cerebral and pulmonary edema with delayed treatment. The key is to ascend very slowly, and travel with an experienced guide. 🙂

Acclimatization in Namche

Case in point: the next morning I awoke to a Russian DIY traveler laying in our lobby, hooked up with oxygen support. He had started coughing up blood in Namche, and his O2 level had read 28%. IMG_9725He was later evacuated to Kathmandu via helicopter for emergency treatment. I was so thankful that I could put faith in my guide, and the only thing I was suffering from was a slight stomachache and a sore ass. Hah. 😛

Norris even checked my oxygen, which was an excellent 96%.IMG_9749Acclimatization is so crucial, and today Norris took me up to a higher elevation, Hotel Everest View, then back down to Namche to sleep low, as a way to test my body against the altitude.DSC_2090It doesn’t hurt that the hotel was quite swank, and we had a spectacular view  of the Everest summit from their luxe terrace. 🙂DSC_2088Anyway, upon return to Namche I visited Cafe Danphe for an apple cinnamon tea, free WiFi, and my last taste of civilization, as the next morning we would press along towards base camp. IMG_9727

Trek to Phorste Thanga

On day five, we left for Phorste Thanga. The trail was dusty and windy, and we trudged along the rocky steps, becoming one with the herds of yaks in our path. DSC_2155Any bit of anguish I felt was quickly masked after I saw old men like this, carrying an armoire up the mountain, strapped to his head.  DSC_2163We also passed runners training for the Everest Marathon- a race from base camp to Namche on the anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary’s expedition to Everest. That’s enough motivation to keep anyone going! 😉PicMonkey CollageFor lunch, we stopped in Mongla. Oats and hard-boiled eggs have become my staple at this point. Safe eats and a healthy source of protein. 😀IMG_9757I will also mention that, although I always offer, Norris refuses to eat with me, and takes his meals in the cook’s kitchen. This is mainly cultural, due to the country’s emphasis on a caste system.

Anyway, after lunch, we made our to Phorste Thanga. This is where the trail forks and we took the scenic route to base camp via Gokyo Lakes. It may cost you a few extra days, but it’s totally worth it. Trust me. 😉forkOn this walk I began to prod more at Norris about his hopes and dreams. Norris told me his dream was to have a small house one day, with a simple garden in the backyard, where he would live with his wife and maybe one child. 🙂DSC_2435In turn I talked with him about my family and my father’s gifted gardening talents, as we walked by rhododendron trees- the national flower of Nepal. 😀
DSC_2077It seems Norris craved simple things, but felt that in Nepal, where living isn’t easy and unemployment runs around 40%, he may never fulfill his dreams. I told him that if he wanted something hard enough, he could make it happen.

Ambition and perseverance make dreams come true. 😀

After two more hours, we arrived at the tea house where we would stay until morning. From that point my time was spent finishing the book, “The Alchemist” which appropriately spoke of fulfilling dreams and discovering your destiny, and afterwards I made my way down to the lodge with a deck of cards. I sat down next to Norris, ordered a ginger tea, and placed the deck on the table. All he could say was, “Thank God.”

Life in the mountains is not easy, and boredom in the afternoons is enough to drive you mad. 😛e9003ccaf21fb75c3c5ac8402c4bcbccIn an age full of technology, it’s easy to entertain with internet and television, but without, you are left to seek more simple types of entertainment. 9e320ba29b301e34448a6e210ad1756fWhat an appropriate meme, considering Norris taught me a Nepali card game called, “Kitty”, and quickly the porters joined in on the action. He also taught me how to count to 10 in Nepali and order myself another tea. By nightfall, the cook had stoked a fire in the lodge and I cozied up to my next book, “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” Quite a fitting tale on this isolated journey. 😉

Trek to Macherma

On day six we left for Macherma, and entered the mountains of Nepal.DSC_2133As I walked along the path, I reminisced with Norris about memories of nature back home- summers spent up at my family’s cabin, fishing by the lake and laughing by the fire.DSC_2137In turn, he talked of God and nature- this invisible force that surrounds us, always watching after us.

Watchful eye of Buddha

He reminded me how no animals are killed in this region, especially the sacred cow, and how many years ago, people here worshiped not religion, but the natural world.

Sacred baby cow and the national animal of Nepal

Seems easy in a place this beautiful. 😀DSC_2018This was also a spectacular day for spotting wildlife. Norris eyed up a mountain goat from a distance, and I got the brilliant idea to chase him up the mountain for a better shot.13119980_10105239923667847_490268424854347249_oWe were also very lucky to spot a musk deer- unusual in these parts due to deforestation and development.DSC_2201I told Norris his next job was to spot the rare mountain lion. He jokingly said he found one for me at the next lodge, and even captured me taming the beast. 😛DSC_2226That was in Doyle- elevation 4,100 meters. We were here to rest an hour, acclimate, and take lunch. DSC_2112Overall, I was beginning to enjoy this nomadic lifestyle. Walking the countryside during the day, taking rest in a tea house, with the intention of staying only one night.DSC_1999Each place had its own charm- family photos hung on the walls, hand-sewn fabrics furnishing the chairs, and their own collection of aging non-perishables. Dusty Snickers anyone? 😛lodgeAnd at the end of the day, all lodges held the promise of bittersweet relief from the cold- a nice warm fire fueled by stinky yak poop. 😛
DSC_2225Anyway, after Dohle the scenery changed dramatically.DSC_2241The trees and shrubs disappeared, and the land became a barren desert.DSC_2251The earth beneath my feet felt bouncy like fresh tar on pavement, and the wind blew with a vengeance. The only signs of life were the small rock piles left in our path- assuring we were headed in the right direction. DSC_2237DSC_2233After walking three hours we arrived in Macherma- our rest stop for the evening. At best, the accommodation was much less homely than the last place; however, temps had dropped at least 10 degrees and there was a bitter chill in the air. We spent the evening huddled around the fire, again fueled by yak dung. There were seven Nepali men, one Frenchmen, and myself. It was one of those moments I wondered where life had taken me, but I wouldn’t change a thing. 🙂

Trek to Gokyo Lakes

On day seven we left for Gokyo Lakes. I was huddled up, snug as a bug in a rug. 😉IMG_9764I found this hike to be most challenging due to my impatience. You see I had dreamed of going to Gokyo ever since I read about it months ago. I mean, wouldn’t you want to get here as fast as possible? So beautiful!IMG_9819Anyway, after almost four painstaking hours, we past Gokyo lakes 1, 2 and finally 3- the most beautiful of lakes. Just check out that color! Wow! ❤IMG_9792In Gokyo, we stayed at a lovely lodge, but this is also where I learned I may give up showers for a while. :/DSC_2268With these frigid temps, my only option was a bucket of water in a drafty cubicle constructed of plywood. Now, I was reluctant to even take off my long johns, let alone undress, and douse myself in cold water, exposed to the elements. No thanks. I’d rather stank. Hah! 😛4972Anyway, I spent the afternoon walking the gorgeous lake, hopping large boulders, and traipsing in the sand. IMG_9794DSC_2259At night I discovered this lodge to be the most lively, with trekkers gathering from Israel, America, England and Mexico.IMG_9874Pictured above are the travelers from Israel who had just finished up their required military service- two years for females and three for males.

Climb Gokyo Ri

Now bright and early on day eight, we left to climb Gokyo Ri, elevation 5,360 meters.IMG_9801As the sun began to rise, the water changed from a deep, dark blue to a piercing turquoise hue. IMG_9845It was a steep two-hour climb, and literally kicked my butt all the way to the top. I told Norris I’d get there faster if there was a Starbucks to look forward to at the top. 😛6745eb088af1f4fdf404918f5bb02c2aSadly no Caramel Machiattos, but the views were stunning nonetheless. 😀PicsArt_05-13-12.37.03Finding these beautiful places is never easy, but it’s always worth it in the end. 😀
IMG_9829From here, we were able to see all three lakes, and had a great view of mount Everest as well.
IMG_9824The biggest challenge when climbing here is to start early, because after 10 AM the wind kicks in, and it’s brutally cold. IMG_9837A group of crazy Mexicans had gone up there at 1 AM to film the stars and sunrise, and when we arrived they were still up there with a small cooker making some dehydrated stew. Loco! 😛IMG_9835Now the path down the mountain was sandy with small pebbles, so we took it slow to avoid slipping, and to savor the view.IMG_9864So perfect! 😀IMG_9786Now that afternoon in the lodge dragged on, and most of the time was spent people watching. 

I could tell as people walked in, who had been trekking for a long time and who had just started, based on their appearance. 😛

While some people looked fresh as a daisy, others looked like Encino Man, with greased hair that could stand on its own. Hah! 😛
encinAt least these stinky people had each other to bond, and ironically we later watched Man Vs. Wild-fitting for this untamed bunch. 😉

Trek to Thangna

On day nine I threw fashion out the window, as we headed towards Chola Pass and crossed Ngozumba glacier.IMG_9884IMG_9885I slung a tank top around my neck to serve as a makeshift gator/ handkerchief. It was a brief two hours to make it to Thangna, but we’d need to rest up there for the following day. Without internet or any form of entertainment, I sat there and watched the yaks for a few hours. 😛IMG_9892I guess we both had the same idea, as the yaks stared right back. 😛IMG_9894Now the men had brought them home that day from a trek, and as a reward for their hard work, the yaks received, and quickly scarfed down a giant tub of potatoes. 😀IMG_9889Later I watched the women take the yak poop, mold it into circles, and fling it on the walls to dry in the sun.1626382While here, Norris washed his clothes outside, and Yvbraj hung out in the common area snacking on Pringles. 😀DSC_2053 Later I found the two asleep on a bench, taking a mid-day siesta. There are only 19 people who live in this village, so there wasn’t much to do other than keep warm by the fire, and prepare for tomorrow’s big day.

Cross Chola Pass- Trek to Zhongla

Now crossing Chola Pass was single-handedly the most physically demanding task, yet also the most rewarding by far! DSC_2319Who knew trekking meant rock climbing without a harness on a frozen glacier. :OIMG_9911Chola Pass is one of three passes in this region; however, it’s the most technical and dangerous of all due to frequent avalanches, and an unsteady vertical rock wall.IMG_9933We left at 5 AM to start what would be a 6-hour journey. I felt like I was at a haunted house at times-afraid to look around me, just following blindly behind my guide. Temps were below freezing and the sun had yet to rise. I couldn’t feel my hands or feet, and the numbness began to hurt after a while. IMG_9910It all seemed worth it as we reached the top of Chola Pass, and looked upon the Chola glacier. 😀IMG_9908IMG_9907Absolutely stunning!DSC_2329I’m a Packer in a real-life frozen tundra. 😛IMG_9917From here we trekked across the glacier and the mountainside to Zhongla.
DSC_2325The lodge there had gorgeous mountain views, and the snow had just begun to fall.DSC_2327I spent the night conversing with a Brazilian who has traveled all over the world, and had some of the craziest travel stories I’d heard yet.IMG_9939At this point, I was starting to get a cold from the climate change, and the shock to my immune system. He joked that growing up in Brazil, he never wanted his mom to know he had a cold, since she would throw full heads of garlic, onion, and honey in a blender, then make him drink it for his health. Yuck! He said it worked, but tasted terrible. :/

Trek to Gorakshep

On day eleven we left for Gorakshep.IMG_9988Now on this morning, like every other, Norris asked me, “How is your feeling? You have headache? Anything wrong, please tell me.” 🙂

Well, today turned out to be a low point, as my cold was in full swing, and I ended up chipping my lower molar during lunch. Also, Gorakshep is the last available lodge prior to Everest Base Camp, and for some reason I expected it to be a little more posh. On the contrary, it was the coldest town, and my room was a plywood box, lacking insulation. The worst fact was, that for a lodge accommodating around 100 people, they had no sinks! No sinks to wash your hands or brush your teeth. So gross!

I ended up asking the kitchen staff for a cup of boiling water and washed my face like a vagrant in a field. 😛
IMG_9760Obviously there are no hot showers, and honestly it had been nine days, so why stop now. 😛

I mean I was reluctant enough to stick my bum on that ice block of a toilet seat, let alone go nude. I’ll stick to moist toilettes, thanks. 😛

Anyway, at this low point I became willing to shell out $4 just to purchase internet, so I could contact my mom to vent my troubles, but sadly, I learned the WiFi wasn’t working. 😥

I guess I’d just have to grin and bear it- hillbilly chipped tooth and all. Hah! 😉

Climb Kalapatthar – Trek to Everest Base Camp

On day twelve we left at 6 AM, bound for the top of Kalapatthar, elevation 5,500 meters.
IMG_9985From the top you can take in stunning views of Mt. Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse.IMG_9956IMG_9979The trek was a serious uphill battle, but again, worth it for the views. 🙂 IMG_9982
Here I am pointing to the summit of Mt. Everest- elevation 8,848 meters. IMG_9972After Kalapatthar we made our way to Everest Base Camp. DSC_2356They say the Himalayas are unpredictable, and sure enough, it was sunny when we left, but snowing by the time we arrived.DSC_2357The trip took two hours and the trail was full of trekkers.IMG_0008Base camp was chalked full of tents, and the day before my friend from Brazil had met two Thai trekkers on an expedition to the summit. If successful, one will be the first Thai female, and the other, the oldest Thai male, at 65 years old, to reach the summit. Even better that they are a father-daughter pair. 🙂DSC_2389Massive chunks of ice and stunning blue glaciers surrounded base camp, sending a chill down my spine. DSC_2363IMG_9994Once we arrived, I made sure to leave my mark at the top. Although I didn’t have a sharpie, I creatively used some black eyeliner. Hah! 😛DSC_2388Overall, with the 6-8 hours of walking each day, in combination with the lack of internet, extreme climates, and unsanitary conditions experienced the last few weeks, I was feeling beat. I told Norris that this trekking wasn’t fun anymore.

He said, the mountain is always a challenge and he’s right. Not everything in life is easy or fun, but it’s all a learning experience. I feel so thankful to have seen firsthand how people live here, which really makes me appreciate my life so much more, and makes me proud to have conquered all these physical and mental battles on this trip, including the goal of finally reaching E.B.C. 😀13123131_10105264268804997_6058974978258765814_oThat being said, after all that walking with my cold, I retreated to the lodge for the evening, ordering myself a plate of potatoes with cheese, doused in half a bottle of ketchup. Just what the doctor ordered. 😉IMG_0007

Descend to Pangboche

On day thirteen we began to descend towards Pangboche. The weather had changed for the worse, with zero visibility, cloudy skies and a thick blanket of snow and ice covering the ground.IMG_0009At least there were a few signs of life to speak of. 🙂IMG_0005I could not begin to express how excited I was to get down the mountain. We would be descending over 1,000 meters, which meant warmer weather and more oxygen. Sleeping in Ghorakshep with my cold was near impossible due to lack of oxygen, along with my nasal congestion. I smiled the whole walk down as my ears popped away, the greenery began to show, and the weather became more tolerable. 😀IMG_0015IMG_0017IMG_0014On the way down we passed Memorial Park, which honors all the lives lost in this region.IMG_0011Many people die each year when attempting to trek or climb these mountains. One notable hedge stone was that of the first Sherpa to reach the summit of Everest without oxygen. IMG_0012Anyway, after five hours of trekking, we arrived in Pangboche.
DSC_2394DSC_2095Once there I enjoyed a bowl of garlic soup– the Nepali cure for altitude sickness, and all that ails you. 😀IMG_0019It was delicious and I’d consider garlic the Nepali version of Windex. Norris said he even rubs garlic cloves on his forehead for headaches. 😛saadcI also attempted a shower here, which was pathetic at best, scary at worst. I was told not to turn the gas on first, since it could start a fire, as he pointed to the black ring at the ceiling, proving his case. When the shower began, it was a small trickle of scalding hot droplets. Not enough to wash your skin, but enough to burn it. Anyway, after slathering on a layer of vanilla scented lotion, the next best thing, I met a fun group Aussies who were heading down after the trek as well.13177718_10207807895887927_4296460720948629739_nFour people from their group had actually been airlifted to Kathmandu for altitude sickness, and they said they meet a group of eight Americans on the way to base camp- all breast cancer survivors in remission, one slightly balding from her recent chemo treatment. Talk about an inspirational tale, and an empowering journey to show your strength. 😀205786-You-Gain-Strength-Courage-And-Confidence-By-Every-Experience-In-Which-You-Really-Stop-To-Look-Fear-In-The-Face

Descend to Namche

On day fourteen we headed back to Namche.DSC_2424 This leg of the journey really renewed my spirit, as we passed by mossy greenery and the breathtaking Tengboche monastery.DSC_2409DSC_2413DSC_2412Other than that, Namche is familiar territory, so it was just a waiting game here before our last day of trekking, and the journey back to Lukla.

Trek to Lukla

On day fifteen, we left at 6:30 AM, with blue skies, bound for Lukla. 😀DSC_2433DSC_2428The trek took around six hours walking up and down hill. Other than a few “traffic jams”, the trek was a breeze, because I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. 😀

Rural traffic jam 😛

DSC_1968I arrived in Lukla at the Buddha Lodge, and had a room with my own bathroom. Woo hoo! Unfortunately there was no hot water, towels, toilet paper, soap and the WiFi hadn’t been working in the whole town for the last 3 days. Hah!liAt least I met a nice Dutch traveler, who made me feel better trumping my record- 30 days without a shower. Yikes! :/
In the evening, I joined my group of Aussie friends at their lodge for a few bottles of Spanish wine and some impromptu dancing. There was a long-standing joke during their trek, since one couple felt pressure by the family to get engaged at Everest Base Camp. The boyfriend obviously didn’t propose from peer pressure, but the two did feel like sending their family a funny picture of another guy from their group making the move on his girlfriend. Hah! 😛13237638_1732337703678995_7359015362250061635_n

Flight back to Kathmandu

Now day sixteen I was supposed to fly out of Lukla airport at 6 AM. The clouds were thick, and the chances of flying seemed dismal, considering the airport had been closed on-and-off for the past two weeks. Luckily, after five hours of waiting, we got news planes were flying in from Kathmandu. Yay!

Our 35-minute flight was turbulent at best, and frightening at worst, as our pilot was munching on cookies during the landing. Geezus! Imagine if he swallowed wrong and we’d all be goners. 😮

Luckily I arrived back in Kathmandu safe and sound.
IMG_9651I had been fortunate to see so many beautiful parts of Nepal during my trek, but the journey was not over yet. 🙂

After two days of rest, and multiple showers, I headed south to Chitwan National Park, where the climate was tropical and the wildlife exotic. 😀sczcStay tuned to hear all about it in the next post. Until then. 🙂


4 thoughts on “Trekking in Nepal: Everest Region and Gokyo Lakes

  1. Oh boy Megan I didn’t realize how tough that Trek was going to be for you I’m proud of you and it was amazing beautiful pictures and I’m glad that you’re home and safe


    1. Thanks so much! I really appreciate the positive feedback. 😀 I had such a wonderful time with your company. Many thanks for being so hospitable during my stay. Take care. X


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