MARCH 2013 NEWSPAPER COLUMN

NAMCHE BAZAAR


Today we were up bright and early for our hike to Namche Bazaar. After a breakfast of porridge and hot tea, we were off at 7:30 am under sunny blue skies. This morning was quite the experience dodging yaks and donkeys, and a few of us were not impressed when we had to run back across the suspension bridge to avoid being squished by one.

Hiking through several small villages gave us the opportunity to interact with the locals; we were favoured with several toothy grins when we handed lollipops to three children along the way. One lady even climbed down a hill going under a wooden bench to retrieve Toby's fallen lens cap.

Lunch consisted of fried rice beside the river in Jorsale and watching other groups hike across the bridge. Today is the day we zigged and zagged across the river on many suspension bridges; the last zag of which is called the Hilary suspension bridge. The views from the bridges, looking up and down the river, allowed us to see snow capped mountains including Kusumkangaru (6300m). It's an amazing view and will likely fill a few of our collective memory cards from all the picture taking. Brody enjoyed the spectacular views and was "lovin' every minute of it."

Tracy also loved the scenery and found the up and down of the hiking to be tough but not anything she wasn't expecting. The afternoon proved to be the most challenging part of the day as we climbed 500 metres in three hours. Everyone was happy when we rounded the corner to see Namche Bazaar (the final steep climb immediately before it they were not so happy about). In total, we climbed 900 metres today.

Having conquered the hike up to Namche, our group relaxes by the wood stove in our tea house; some of us are even braving the cold for a hot shower. I take this quite moment as an opportunity to interview the group for some feedback on the day and am pleasantly surprised with the following comments.

Diane enjoyed looking down the valley and seeing how far we had traveled and how tiny other hiking groups looked in the distance. Yolande was very happy we stayed ahead of the very grey rain

cloud threatening to downpour on us; we played cat and mouse with the weather all afternoon, and after a few sprinkles, we won. Julia enjoyed the fresh pine scent and rushing water as we made our way up. Mark was a little taken aback at how steep and narrow the steps were on the other side of the Hillary suspension bridge. The consensus of the group was that the experience thus far had been amazing.

We awoke the following morning to a surprise. What we had thought was the little patter of rainfall all night was actually snow. Lukla looks entirely different covered in a blanket of snow and the low clouds hide the surrounding mountains. After a breakfast of eggs, toast and the peanut butter that Tracy has been carrying up the mountain, Mike surprises us with chocolate Easter Eggs. Eight of us head up the steep trek to the Everest Mountain View Hotel while the others stay warm at the tea house. As it had snowed, and being typical Canadians, the eight of us were prepared for the weather with jackets, gloves, some in long johns, and all in our toques. Some of those that stayed at the tea house are resting and trying to acclimatize to this elevation; altitude sickness symptoms have manifested in a few while hiking up to this elevation. While this is worrisome, it’s not serious enough to stop anyone from continuing the journey.

After two hours and forty-five minutes up steep stair steps and across snow covered hills, our small group had arrived at the Everest Mountain View Hotel (3840m). It is beautiful and sunny here but Mount Everest is still being elusive as it is clouded over again. The stunning views of all the other mountains do not disappoint and many comments are made of how amazing the views are and that this is really living. Everywhere we looked, we were overwhelmed with the picture postcard views and many view stops were made along the way to the hotel.

After a well deserved beer and tea break at the hotel, our small group heads over to Khumjung for lunch; we were supposed to see the village on the way back, however, being short of time, we added it today’s itinerary rather than hiking all the way back up again to see it later in the trip. As we make our way to Phakding, hunger starts to set in. Join us next time as our adventurers encounter Momos for the first time.

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