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TREKKING Sagarmatha National Park Pt. 1

Kathmandu -> Namche Bazaar

sunny 15 °C

Once we got back to Kathmandu from Pokhara we wanted to get going on our trek as soon as possible. We quickly ran around the city, adding in a tiny visit to the Langtan House (new baby puppies!) and secured ourselves a jeep to Salleri which was about a 4day trek from the park and a few last minute hiking items. We had already purchased our T.I.M.S Cards and our Sararmatha National Park Card. This was the most costly part of our trip and we even got broadcasted on some Nepali news channel as a little news team was quizzing trekkers due to the fact that it was the first season that many of the major hikes were re-opened due to the recent earthquakes.

It was a really hard decision for us to decide which trek to go on. It was between Sagarmatha and Annapurna but Sagarmatha eventually won as we were pretty keen to get a possible glimpse at the tallest mountain in the world.

Most trekkers going to Sagarmatha usually take a tourist bus and enter the National Park from the Western Region which is only a few days hike or they fly into Lukla (craziest airport ever and daily uncertainty of flight availability due to weather) but we had wanted the cheapest and least touristy route. Therefore, we had decided to walk in and out of the park (mostly to save money) and take the route North-West up to the Sacred Lakes of Gokyo and do 1/3 of the Passes and hit Everest Base Camp before looping back down. We estimated it would take us about 3 weeks and therefore give us enough time to catch our flight we had pre-booked to Perth, Australia.

We had a taxi picking us up at 3:30am and we were busy until midnight packing our bags. Luckily most hostels/hotels in Kathmandu offer free storage for the large demand from trekkers.
We were bringing our main big bags, but packing as light as possible as there are Tea Houses/Lodges all along the trekking route with food & beds. We learnt that if you promise to eat dinner and breakfast there you have a very high chance of getting free lodging ;)

This is a list of everything Ariel packed for anyone that's wondering what to bring:
1 pair of comfortable shoes (Ariel wore Blundstone boots & Kevin wore Timberland hiking boots)
1 walking pole
1 light jacket
1 rain jacket
1 pair of gloves
2 shirts
2 pairs of thick socks
1 fleece layer
1 pair of tights
1 pair of pants/zip off shorts
3 pairs of undies
1 sports bra
1 head band
Water-proof backpack cover
First-aid kit w/diamox for countering altitude sickness & tensor bandage
Water purifying tablets
Water bottle
Headlamp
Reading book
Maps (including a downloaded version on our phones)
Journal
Elastic laundry line (great for cleaning undies and letting dry while you hike)
1 bar of soap/toothbrush/toothpaste
Swiss army knife
Snacks (dried fruit/snickers/mars bar)

DAY 1: Now we were ready for our 12hr ride to start our trek! The only hiccup was that Kevin was sick all night and barely got him on the taxi. Luckily he pulled himself together as we got crammed into a “8” seater jeep...in Nepal this ended up being an 11 seater...we were a little crammed in but the weather was good and we befriended a local teacher who was going to visit family and bought us breakfast on the way. The poor thing was sick the entire way up along the winding roads. Meanwhile, the woman next to Ariel had a toddler who helped to distract us on the long trip. The views were already beautiful as we zoomed along twisting roads along a big river called the Dhudh Kosi. PaniPani! (water)
The young driver stopped numerous times either along the road to pee in a bush or at small villages for delicious food.
And when we got to Salleri we were already at 2300m and we were recommended a Tea House/Lodge by the teacher.
We ordered some dinner and went to sleep early, excited about the anticipation of our trek.

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DAY 2
6:30am wake up/6hrs Hiking/668m gain

We were ready to start trekking! We quickly peel off our layers as we gain elevation and enjoy the glorious weather. We walk through pine forests and pass buffalo herders and sometimes local kids followed us from one village to the next yelling “Namaste” and asking for treats. A group of men pass us, cheering and singing as they carry a huge log. There are massive rhododendrons, natives to this land and then the stairs begin. We stop often to drink water as we are not used to our bags, let alone the strenuous hikes as we go up and down the valley, but mostly UP. We go higher and higher until we hit a Buddhist shrine covered in flags. Passing through lavishly painted gaits we then take a steep path down until we arrive at our first destination of Taksindu. It is mostly made up of a Buddhist Monestary but it is very quiet and we only see a few young monks wandering around in their deep red robes. Women with huge nose rings and thick warm saris are happy to say “Namaste”. We find the only opened Tea House and settle in. Only another Nepali family are there and we are exhausted. We feast on fried rice with yak cheese, spring onion and spinach? And Noodle soup with egg and more local greens. Our diet soon become repetitive due to the scarcity or resources and means of transportation...the food cravings come later and other than the sore joints is the only woe of our journey.

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DAY 3
7am wake up/8hrs Hiking/920m Gain&Loss

Breaky is Nepali bread with Yak cheese and garlic and eggs. We continue down the mountainside into a deep mist. It's a LONG way down, which is not easy on Ariel's knees. We take lots of stops which usually co-inside with the passing of donkeys hauling water and propane. The tinkling of bells usually announces their arrival which is a great safety feature as they could easily shoulder you off the trail. We finally get to the bottom where the river lays and eat egg thukpa (soup) and another solo trekker with a funny hat says hello as he passes by. We have only seen a couple of trekkers so far. We cross a 109m long suspension bridge at 1500m which will be the lowest point of our trip. We now are going UP. We pity ourselves less and less as we pass locals carrying all means of food, goods etc. Young men are bent completely over carrying huge metal poles for new lodges, going only a few steps at a time and using short wooden poles for balance. Many Nepali men will die every year carrying their goods in the Himalayas despite their almost unnatural way they can flit up and down the rocky paths.
Due to knee issue we don't reach our planned village but end up in the cutesy village of Kharikola instead. We find a room in the first lodge we get to and befriend the owners children. Ariel teaches them to make cootie-catchers and we eat a big helping of mac&cheese and daal bhat while the rain comes in.

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DAY 4
5:30am wake up/7hrs Hiking/412m GL
We are greeted in the morning with a stunning view of the Himalayas! We have only had a brief glimpse earlier but now we feel like we are already so close. We eat creamy porridge with chumpa ( a thickening product) and a cheesy omelette with chapati. Today is the easiest so far and we cross 3 massive swinging bridges. We cross a few rivers and more and more buddhist wheels and flags as we go. We start to see a few big groups of trekkers as we cross paths with the Lukla trail. There are oodles of lodges around here and people are everywhere. We save our rupees by eating our snickers and we take a breather after getting to the top of one trail which is just enough time for someone to notice our Canadian flags sewed to our backpacks. It's another Canadian couple but from Manitoba! They are Erik and Danielle, a construction worker and a nurse. They have just been in India and as we walk and talk with them we decide to stop in Monjo at the same lodge. Inside is the man with the funny hat! His name is Richard and his is from NZ. We all get along famously and decide to keep trekking together as long as our time-lines make sense. We try our first glass of Chaang together (home brewed alcohol) and we try some veggie pizza and sherpa stew .

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DAY 5
6am wake up/3hrs Hiking/751m Gain
Met the team for brekky and walk into the sunshine. We are now really in the mountains and it's a short but intense walk to our acclimatization stop. We walk through the pine forest and after a short walk we get our TIMS cards checked at little hut before we are OFFICIALLY issued in the SAGARMATHA NATIONAL PARK!!! We walk along a azure blue river, searching for remains of bridges that have been swept away in past rainfalls as we cross 3 swinging bridges (2/3 have been destroyed). We pass more groups, mostly led by the local Sherpa (the native people of the Himalaya who fled Tibet and are now the best guides) and then THERE IT IS! EVEREST! There is a break from the trees and with clear blue skies we get our first view of the monstrous mountain...kinda lumpy compared to it's neighbour K2 but still awesome!!!
We arrive shortly in Namche Bazaar. Once we find a lodge together (epic views) we dump our bags and explore this little hub. Well established for being the centralized point of all the major trekking routes and also necessary for acclimatizing it is stuffed with stalls, lodges and the last place to take out your rupees! We splurge on some food items we may not see in a while (burgers and baked goods) and play lots of games of cards. We start planning our route with our little crew and decide that to best off-set altitude sickness we should stay in town 2 full days. We have also identified, with the help our of new nurse, that the tini bumps on our hands we originally believed to be as spider bites is extreme eczema that we have given ourselves due to extreme changes in altitude. This is the most plausible answer anyways as we went from Chitwan at Nepals lowest/hottest region to the Himalaya's in about 24hrs..it's irritating but we will live!

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DAY 6-7
Rest & Acclimatization Days
We get a nice sleep in and set off trying to find cheaper breakfast prices as it turns our our lodge is nice, but the food prices are not so nice...we go on a hunt and slightly out of the main hub of town, debating where to go next, a Nepalese woman pokes her head out of her home and tells us to come in! Her name is Chappi and her daughter Cher of 6yrs old are kind, silly hosts. Chappi uses her 1 room home as means to cook delicious food for whoever will stumble by while her daughter runs around town smacking people's bums and getting sweets from the locals. We promise to eat there every day as her prices are much more fair than the tourist prices in town and we greatly enjoy their company. Cher loves to steal and hide anything loose on us dance and yell her ABC's.
One of our afternoons we go on a short day trek up to the Heritage Museum that houses old trekking gear, information about the local flora/fauna & locals. According to one post, from 1970-2000 there was a jump from 1500-25000 trekkers!!! It's shocking to think of the changes that have been happening in this region since Hillary and Norgay made the summit. There are also 30 different types of butterflies.
We hiked over to an old landing strip and returned to town via a big Buddhist monastery (you could hear their horns during the morning/evening). The rest of our time was spent planning our trek, eating and playing cards. We were eager to carry on, but also not ruin our trip from altitude sickness!

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Posted by Kev n' Ariel 23:12 Archived in Nepal

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