Ask and you shall receive certainly worked as I woke up this morning to clear skies, which allowed us to soak in the surrounding mountains. Kongde, located across the river from Namche, made for an excellent backdrop for breakfast. We got started relatively early although I stayed back a bit, so I could soak up as much time as possible talking to Leigh on the phone. The cell and wifi coverage is surprisingly impressive along the trail with constant coverage through Deboche, our resting point for today. After today we’ll be moving on to Dingboche, which has scattered cell phone coverage and fairly regular wifi, but not all the time – so fair warning to family and friends that if you don’t see a post in a while, we’re still safe and sound! We just don’t have access to wifi.
Anyways, calling back to the States is always a highlight of the day and luckily for today, it was one of many. The trail from Namche begins by hugging a ridge that offers stunning views of Everest, Lhotse, Ama Dablam, Thamserku, and many others. The ridge also gives one a great vantage point of Tengboche and all the switchbacks we hike up from Phungi Thanga (we always just say “funky tango”). The hike from Phungi Thanga after lunch is also quite steep. Daene thinks the hike up to Namche is the worst of the hills, while I always consider this one to be the worst. I’ll rephrase – the hardest. Normally, my competitiveness kicks in and I push myself hard up the hill, but today for some reason I took my time and just soaked it all in. I put in headphones halfway up and was listening to some great oldies: Build Me Up Buttercup, September, Take on Me, Me and Julio Down by the School Yard... I was singing (when breath available) and dancing (when energy available) and having a blast.
Perhaps the biggest treat of the day was our visit at Tengboche Monastery. The monastery is beautiful, but unfortunately there are no photos allowed inside so you’ll have to take my word for it. The walls are adorned with intricate paintings of Buddha’s life and the “angry protector god” that they also devote their prayers and meditations to on occasion. In the front center of the room is a huge golden Buddha that was adorned with scarves and offerings. Thangkas and various paintings are also hung up on the front walls. This was one of those times when I wish I knew more about Bhuddism and the meanings behind everything as one could easily spend hours in this one small room. In the center of the room are padded benches with warm robes that the monks sit on during their chants/meditation. Fortunately for us, they allow the public to view their chanting at 3:00 p.m. each day, so we were able to sit down along the wall and join in. The chanting lasted 30 minutes with brief pauses and it was truly spectacular. The only times I’ve ever meditated have been brief periods during yoga, but being in this monastery and listening to the chants of the monks was something special.
We ended our day by hiking down to Deboche to stay in a lodge called Rivendell. Deboche is located in a forest of rhododendron and the name Rivendell is very fitting. It’s arguably my favorite lodge on the trek as clear skies provide a great view of Everest and depending on the season, the trail is lined with flowering rhododendron. For now,
Everest is hidden behind some clouds, but with any luck like we had today, we’ll have another great view in the morning.