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.26816345350_0f72c644be_zNow 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.27086534275_afc4f2213f_cI 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.26886708825_7e66236ee0_z I first flew to Lukla, then trekked clockwise, reaching Gokyo Ri, crossing Chola Pass, summitting Kalapatthar, and conquering Everest Base Camp (E.B.C.). :DI chose a package tour through Nepal Social Treks, which included all meals, accommodation, guide, porter (to carry my bags), trekking permit, and internal flights. 26931458642_e6061ffd7f_zUpon arrival I was greeted by Ram from Nepal Social Treks and transferred to my hotel.26613724600_fab48b0172_zWhile in Kathmandu I stayed at Hotel Arts- a modern hotel in the tourist district of Thamel. 26769444880_6e473a25e0_zOn 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. 🙂27047973005_dd5c0feb6f_zOn 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.27047973015_d0a338a66aAlong 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.26996510892_90238b8350_zAdditionally, 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.26985737846_acdcbc08cb_zI flew with Goma airlines, along with 16 other people on my flight.26957078231_5c2a6f3651_zEmotions 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.26613724610_d431d2796d_zMy 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. 😛

26790608210_78b16eba0f_zNo 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. 26985737796_8fc67e519d_zThankfully, after a quick 35-minute flight, we had a safe landing, as everyone clapped and cheered, and we proceeded to baggage claim.26957078161_177bcce0d4_zAt 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. 🙂26444569143_710cc5a510_zHe 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.26745765980_a286fac91f_zFor the rest of the food and supplies, the lodges depend on mules, yaks, and horses to carry it up from Lukla. 26925369622_40d1644629_zSpeaking of food, once in Phakding, we feasted on a Nepali staple called Dal Bhat- a vegetable set of lentil soup, potato curry, and rice.26925369692_0b62abff35_zNow 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. 27019820285_373d2d0fdf_zIt 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. 😛26446848063_bc8129fffb_z

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. 😛26996510762_dafa4547c9_zAll 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

26985863876_8d9f574a3e_zOn this leg of the journey, we crossed a series of six suspension bridges. 26988401506_79f2ae5c56_zNow don’t get too worried! If the horses can cross it, so can we. 🙂26414208544_9e82c931aa_zOn 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.26992906232_ecd2a20e97_zHe 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. 😉27019820225_3cf712075a_zOn 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.

26992906282_65aa5efc33_zAnyway, 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.26988504286_0609dd1688_zThis stretch was three hours of stairs, laced with brief stops to let livestock pass.26416601773_0817370fec_z
27022690541_dcb9e387f0_zLuckily I had a furry companion keep me company along the way, and some Enrique Iglesias music to keep me motivated. 😉26414208564_11a957807b_zThe trail was extremely dusty today, and I alternated watching my step along the rocky trail, and gazing up at the glorious mountain peaks. 🙂
26745766070_146d144ed0_zUpon arrival in Namche, we checked into our accommodation, the Comfort Inn.27019820245_f63b263308_zThe name seemed to be the ultimate irony, considering the “comfort” promised was in short supply. 😛26988306006_06427a8648_zI 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! 😀27019820265_4e02c7e17f_zFor dinner I had the roast chicken with vegetables.27019820385_72d034161d_z Absolutely divine!I was told it was OK to eat meat in Namche, or so I thought… 😥

Cue Cher.
27018401686_d20e5cee31_zThe 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.26816812280_bef8d900d3_zAs 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! 26997334151_440982f38b_zFor 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.27032691376_1a84a33ab4_zThen, 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.27032691326_3d5bbf1e30_zIt was because of the Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation that a school was established here, and a hospital.27032691356_ac1bb8d001_zOn our walk, we even saw a ceremony for the construction of a new hospital. Fantastic! 27032691436_35c8b19a75_zOverall, 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.26992906152_fe5f366f3b_zAs 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.26988401406_e29046638a_zI 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.26988504306_3f327f8086_zThe 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.26414208494_070f32c825_zAMS 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%.27070788355_b336a93ab3_zHe 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%.26988504326_9400a56dae_zAcclimatization 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.26925792902_9bdcb3a70f_zIt doesn’t hurt that the hotel was quite swank, and we had a spectacular view  of the Everest summit from their luxe terrace. 🙂26925792892_5e3a877978_zAnyway, 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. 26465567274_485b58698e_z

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. 26416601813_cedf4f0ea4_zAny 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. 26416601943_af51b93655_zWe 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! 😉26926354592_a69caef483_zFor 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. 😀26748249000_a1b075aaee_zI 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. 😉26927397542_12fa7f093d_zOn 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. 🙂26465896324_92d492ecc1_zIn 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. 😀
26925793022_d1093bd098_zIt 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. 😛26467940753_6c78772612In 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.26797360120_f118eec1c9_zWhat 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.26414533154_83c42481f3_cAs 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.26468307013_8387010c00_cIn 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. 😀26745766070_146d144ed0_zThis 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.26613724530_8f76a15dee_zWe were also very lucky to spot a musk deer- unusual in these parts due to deforestation and development.26416602053_98350d4850_zI 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. 😛26414836574_cef1d4c1c9_zThat was in Doyle- elevation 4,100 meters. We were here to rest an hour, acclimate, and take lunch.26414533084_cf22bb7518_zOverall, 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.26992906232_ecd2a20e97_zEach 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? 😛26931458652_9d579288ab_zAnd 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. 😛
26414836484_b17303b3d0_zAnyway, after Dohle the scenery changed dramatically.26414836734_5caa2f99e7_cThe trees and shrubs disappeared, and the land became a barren desert.27020430305_4a5b6e0ff6_cThe 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.26414836694_8394816c31_c26992906052_c60c55520e_cAfter 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. 😉26954449601_bc64fa9618_zI 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!27015535351_72ca7704e1_cAnyway, after almost four painstaking hours, we past Gokyo lakes 1, 2 and finally 3- the most beautiful of lakes. 27022717775_1c3bb9b74e_cJust check out that color! Wow! <3In Gokyo, we stayed at a lovely lodge, but this is also where I learned I may give up showers for a while. :/27020430435_38075f8829_cWith 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! 😛26467480654_3fec0c0677_bAnyway, I spent the afternoon walking the gorgeous lake, hopping large boulders, and traipsing in the sand.27022798725_1f6c2f31ef_z
At night I discovered this lodge to be the most lively, with trekkers gathering from Israel, America, England and Mexico.26931350172_18f06c14ea_zPictured 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.26927890782_fa5c781eb3_cAs the sun began to rise, the water changed from a deep, dark blue to a piercing turquoise hue.26469580803_8d22f2cbed_cIt 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. 😛26488037003_54e45e9c0bSadly no Caramel Machiattos, but the views were stunning nonetheless. 😀27073308305_80490596a5_cFinding these beautiful places is never easy, but it’s always worth it in the end. 😀
27015535221_5053b3e2b6_cFrom here, we were able to see all three lakes, and had a great view of Mount Everest as well. 27015535261_9205d15260_cThe biggest challenge when climbing here is to start early, because after 10 AM the wind kicks in, and it’s brutally cold.27015535341_e328e04e14_cA 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! 😛27015535281_e7818272ff_cNow the path down the mountain was sandy with small pebbles, so we took it slow to avoid slipping, and to savor the view.27015535351_72ca7704e1_cSo perfect! 😀27059793046_33e0cc7c63_cNow 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! 😛
27050846606_c9f33b3b33_cAt 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.27015714411_f9f9ddb474_c27015714451_f79c17755b_cI 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. 😛26480384223_68b1428330_cI guess we both had the same idea, as the yaks stared right back. 😛27015938561_8730fb2d1f_zNow 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. 😀26480384203_807a0dbf24_cLater I watched the women take the yak poop, mold it into circles, and fling it on the walls to dry in the sun.27015938551_001bef976d_zWhile here, Norris washed his clothes outside, and Yvbraj hung out in the common area snacking on Pringles. 😀26993065012_25c6aeeb78_zLater 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!27084418635_7f81310ab7_cWho knew trekking meant rock climbing without a harness on a frozen glacier. :O26810081220_ca161c9e2e_cChola 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.26479110764_e14b1fa42a_cWe 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. 26810081320_caae359a52_cIt all seemed worth it as we reached the top of Chola Pass, and looked upon the Chola glacier. 😀26810081300_f2dd015c4a_c26810081280_93e22a5faf_cAbsolutely stunning!26480843303_0d8956c6e5_cI’m a Packer in a real-life frozen tundra. 😛26886708955_573f02581b_zFrom here we trekked across the glacier and the mountainside to Zhongla. 27051447416_4822b2f195_c
The lodge there had gorgeous mountain views, and the snow had just begun to fall.26990096422_dd42f4a3b1_cI 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.At 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.26480958773_20f34ea028_zNow 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. 😛
26479363374_07b9facc06_zObviously 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.
27017853631_fbd2003efa_cFrom the top you can take in stunning views of Mt. Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse.27017853531_2c4fbcde49_c27017853561_8e1c9a3e2a_cThe trek was a serious uphill battle, but again, worth it for the views. 🙂 27017853621_87320b631f_c
Here I am pointing to the summit of Mt. Everest- elevation 8,848 meters. 27018131881_d334d1c702_cAfter Kalapatthar we made our way to Everest Base Camp.27018131941_f72e61f248_cThey say the Himalayas are unpredictable, and sure enough, it was sunny when we left, but snowing by the time we arrived.27018131961_14b80a140a_cThe trip took two hours and the trail was full of trekkers.27018251371_3fbc47c360_cBase 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. 🙂27086534325_30b526155d_cMassive chunks of ice and stunning blue glaciers surrounded base camp, sending a chill down my spine. 27086534225_6a121b1630_c26482433323_e6ea71c5fc_cOnce 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! 😛27086534305_4384ec73c6_cOverall, 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. 😀26486023184_625124dc62_cThat 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. 😉26479363354_da7d983207_z

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.26812542850_2496c3f07e_cAt least there were a few signs of life to speak of. 🙂27093986985_5d8ac7fe0e_cI 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. 😀27053554536_ee8d068f6f_c27053554566_31021c4ea4_c27053554496_065c01a02b_cOn the way down we passed Memorial Park, which honors all the lives lost in this region.27053554446_ace6e97195_cMany 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. 27053554466_dca929eb40_cAnyway, after five hours of trekking, we arrived in Pangboche.
27023985901_8ab1f8b8ab_zOnce there I enjoyed a bowl of garlic soup– the Nepali cure for altitude sickness, and all that ails you. 😀26479363294_880cfaeb50_zIt was delicious and I’d consider garlic the Nepali version of Windex. Norris said he even rubs garlic cloves on his forehead for headaches. 😛27092255145_0fa6ffa72b_zI 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.27092255105_59b89210fb_zFour 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. 😀26488767103_b79b8f2eec_z

Descend to Namche

On day fourteen we headed back to Namche.26812703420_13ebbc904b_cThis leg of the journey really renewed my spirit, as we passed by mossy greenery and the breathtaking Tengboche monastery.26812703540_8f2d6cbcb6_c
26812703470_07a6cf6f91_cOther 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. 😀26812703600_2235fbc452_c
27059793126_d9713c3f70_cThe 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. 😀
26992585462_eebd5a8346_cI 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!27053857226_7845961bf5_cAt 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! 😛26998284702_0554f04028_z

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.
27059600326_e711cc32c7_zI 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. 😀26487366534_95fb3074f9_oStay 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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