You can read all of my posts about the Everest Base Camp trek here!
After the tough day that I had on the first day of the trek I was surprised to wake up feeling refreshed and not too stiff. All those mornings in the gym on the stepper must have paid off!We packed up our bags and headed into the dining room for breakfast. I selected an apple pancake for breakfast which was deliciously doughy with lovely tangy apple pieces – a great start to the day and very filling.
Then it was soon time to head off on our trek for the day, with our final destination scheduled to be the largest town on the trek, Namche Bazaar. Phakding to Namche is one of the longer days on the trek, estimated at around 6-7 hours not including the lunch stop.It is also know as one of the more difficult trekking days with several steep climbs and the first day at a high enough altitude to potentially cause some altitude sickness.
After the rough day I had yesterday, I started using my trekking pole today and was amazed at the world of difference that it made – I had much better balance and it was easier for my short legs to make it up some of the larger steps. In stark contrast to yesterday, it was stunning weather this morning – blue skies and sunshine with a light breeze. It was so much easier to navigate the uneven rocks that made up the path when they weren’t all slippery from the rain!
Halfway through the morning we rounded a corner and were elated to see our first big peak! Deepak told us that it’s name was Thamserku and it’s summit was at 6600m. We were all mesmerised by the jagged snowy peak rising high above the green pine forest – it was beautiful, and a stark contrast to the deep blue sky.
A little further along we started our first steep climb for the day, which needed several rest stops for along the way to make it to the top! I was again bringing up the rear of the group, but I wasn’t too concerned about it as I knew I would need to conserve my energy for the big steep climb into Namche I’d heard so much about. Deepak was with me every step of the way, saying “No problem, bistari bistari” which means “slowly slowly” in Nepali and soon became our mantra for the trek.
We finally reached Jorsalle at an altitude of 2740m where we went through our first checkpoint of the trek and officially entered the Sagarmatha National Park. Deepak took care of the paperwork, having our trekking permits stamped while we had a well-earned rest in the sun! We stopped for lunch at Jorsalle’s Everest Guest House and to stock up on water as I had already finished my 2 litres that I had filled up with at breakfast! I had a delicious Nepali set for lunch comprising dal bhat (lentil soup), curried vegetables, steamed rice and a papadum.
We rested in the sun for a bit after lunch, and then set off for Namche. I felt a lot better this afternoon, and made sure to conserve my energy by taking it slow and steady and concentrating on my breathing. We rounded a corner and saw two suspension bridges in the distance, one much higher above the raging waters than the other. Of course, Deepak informed us that we’d be taking the high one!
Making our way slowly up the steep climb to the bridge, we excitedly came around each corner hoping that we’d see the bridge there, but instead being confronted with yet another set of stairs. We eventually made it, and had a short rest stop before making our way across to get to the final ascent into Namche. I found the suspension bridges difficult to cross, and not because of the height factor. They bounced a lot (even when you were the only person on them!), there was nowhere to hold onto as the cyclone wire fencing that lined them stuck up at all angles, and once you got past the halfway point you were also going uphill!
The rest of the afternoon was punctuated by regular rest stops to help see us all through, as the final part of the day is just endless stairs, up and up, over and over. It was a really tough afternoon, and being a quite warm day didn’t help either! I was so excited when we finally approached a town rising out of the low cloud that had rolled in and Deepak told us that it was Namche!
We ended up making pretty good time despite the number of rest stops we had taken (and my slow pace!), arriving in Namche at 4pm. We checked into our teahouse, called The Nest, which thankfully was right at the start of Namche meaning we didn’t have to do anymore climbing that day. My first point of call was to head up to my room and have a quick wash with some wet wipes and change into some warmer clothes for the evening.
If we thought our guesthouse in Phakding was good, well The Nest was like the Hilton! Not only did we have an attached bathroom, we also had a double bed! Unfortunately the town was having issues with their hydro power, meaning that there was no electricity to the rooms and no hot water in our bathroom, as well as regular power cuts in the dining room downstairs. Deepak offered us the option to have a gas hot shower in another building if we wanted, but given we were only going to get dirtier and smellier as we ascended, and the weather had already turned quite cold that day, I decided against it. Deepak said that we would be staying here again when we passed through Namche on the way down and that the power should be fixed by then – a hot shower and double bed to look forward to!
We met our trekking companions Danielle and Michael down in the dining room for an early dinner at 5:30pm. I had some vegetable momos (Nepali dumplings) which were delicious and served with a wonderfully spicy curry dipping sauce. Perfect after a hard day trekking!
I had started to feel the first effects of the altitude and Diamox today, having a slight headache on and off throughout the day and intense tingling in my fingers for around a hour that evening. It had also started to get hard to do more physical things – just getting into my sleeping bag had me panting for 10 minutes afterwards! Ash and I decided to have an early night as we were both pretty wrecked after our long day, and turned in to sleep at 7pm.