It’s a great feeling to wake up in Phakding, walk into the lodge, get a hot cup of masala tea, and realize that the uncertainty associated with the Lukla flight is over. The next 8 days we’ll spend hiking up to Imja Lake. The reason it takes so long is we’ll be going from 2,860 m at Lukla to 5,000 m at Imja Lake. We’ll trek for two days and then take a day of rest to get acclimated, which means tomorrow will be a rest day in Namche. As for today, we began our first substantial climb.
The first stop on today’s trek was a tea break about an hour and a half in. One of the benefits of hiking along the Everest Base Camp trail is there are a constant supply of tea houses. We always stop at this one tea house that has a beautiful view of Thamserku on one side and a beautiful waterfall on the other. For the most part of today’s hike, the mountains were in the clouds, but we got to get a quick glimpse of Thamserku as the clouds briefly parted over tea. Views like this really bring to life the grandeur of the trail and definitely feed one’s excitement!
Next up was a brief stop at Jorsale for lunch before the first large uphill of the trek that brings us to Namche. It was fairly windy this afternoon, which made the top bridge that crosses the Imja Khola a bit interesting! The benefit of wind is that the prayer flags that line the bridges are out in full display. The 600 m climb to Namche is filled with switchbacks. Along the way you pass many porters because they are carrying huge loads of beer and other goods that typically weigh between 50 – 80 kg (yes, that’s right kg…). I was carrying 5 kg in my daypack and still going slow. Needless to say they are incredibly impressive. The donkeys and japkyos (a mix between a cow and a yak, which are suited for lower altitudes, 3000 m, that yaks cannot withstand) move a bit faster, so they provide plenty of opportunities to move out of their way and take a break. All in all, the uphill took 1.5 hrs and we arrived at 1:30 p.m. Namche is a beautiful community with wonderful people built into the side of the mountain. Our rest day tomorrow will provide a nice opportunity to stop by various shops and catch up with them. For now, it’s nice to give the legs a break and get a good night’s sleep.