Today was an acclimation day. These days consisted of taking small day packs, (just water, sunscreen and rain jackets) and climbing to a higher altitude to expose our bodies to the thinner air and then walking back down to our same camp in Namche Bazar(3,440m, 10500ft).
The morning started off slow because of a heavy over cast morning. We wanted to depart around 7:30am so we would have the morning’s clear sky to see Mt. Everest and other mountains around. We eat breakfast as usual and took our time as we tried to finish our books (Ender’s Shadow, Ready Player one, and some book on bananas).
We headed out on our trek going north through the terraced city of Namche Bazar. We had only traversed a few steps before all our breathing became heavy. We finally started to feel the effects of altitude yet none of us had any bad symptoms. Through the hike out of the city we came upon the highest airport in the world. Eleni was excited to see the airport but the pure simplicity of the landing strip left all three of us looking around only to find that this semi flat patch of dirt was the “runway.” I commend any pilot who dares to land on such a short runway on uneven terrain. Come to think of it, any pilot regardless of skill must not have a fear of death to land here.
As we continued our trek, we came across the Everest View Hotel (3,860m, 11,800ft). This hotel was built by a Japanese company and it is said that several climbers seeking to hike Mt. Everest take a helicopter straight here and individuals sip and eat the best food while breathing through oxygen tanks. This has to be one of the most elegant and “western” hotels in all of the Himalayan Mountains. The lodge was closed but we got to walk through the Hotel and have tea with our guide and porter. Sitting in the hotel made me wonder how such material could be hulled all the way up to this peak. There were huge, glass pain windows that must have been brought in via helicopter and then carried by hand up to the peak were the hotel rested.
As we finished our tea, we headed north into a valley the nested two large towns called Khumjung and Khunde. We only had to descend around 200 meters from the Everest Hotel. We were able to trek through Khumjung and see the city life of most of the locals. As we approached the western side of the city we stopped for our lunch at another typical Nepalese restaurant. The food was great as always and all of us have still been feeling health and not been subject to any intestinal distress. When we finished up and let our feet rest, we threw our packs back on and strapped up for our journey back to Namche Bazar.
The trek took us on a large loop that circled the northern part of Namche Bazar. When we left the restaurant we were directly north of the city and headed south west through a school that was founded by Sir. Edmond Hillary, the first climber to reach Mt. Everest. This was a secondary school that had hostels for children to stay if their own village was too far away to commute daily.
The hike back was on a nice wide trail with steps on the up and down hills. The fog obstructed all of the view but the hike was still enjoyable. We were on track to be back pretty early at our hotel in Namche Bazar so we took a very leisurely pace and stayed together as a group. Since the view was restricted we all talked on a wide range of topics. Alex and I spent quite some time figuring out the best strategies in the video game Dota 2. Eleni came up with the idea of creating better self-adjusting hiking poles. We spent time talking about our different family members and their unique traits: Dad’s desire to sneak food off everyone’s plate and give an obscure story about how the food went missing, Christina’s irritability with noises, Mom’s favorite board games and so many more. We also made plenty fun of ourselves.
As we strolled back into Namche Bazar the cloud cover lifted and gave us a wonderful view looking back into the town. We slowly walked down the cobblestone paths while landing as softly as we could to be easy on our knees. We came back to the hotel and did our usual ritual of eating dinner, taking our “Coleman showers” (using wipes to clean) and reading our books. I finished Enders’ Shadow which is the book following Bean, a character in the book Ender’s Game which will have a movie coming out this November with Harrison Ford.
Colman wipes left: 15 packs
Red Pandas seen: 0
Snow leopards seen: 0