Start: 12,900 ft End: 11,300 ft Total Time: 8hrs
As we continued what my mom was coming to call our “Forced March” we realized that while ascending is an experience, descending is simply about getting from point A to point B. Our departure time was pushed up from 9am to 7am to make sure we finished in daylight and took advantage of the morning’s clear skies. For much of the trip we luckily had enjoyed clear morning skies and cloudy afternoons with very limited precipitation.
Today we would not be so lucky. I’ll get to that later.
To start the day we had a moderate climb up to Tengboche which has the largest monastery in the Khumbu Valley. In the 30 min scheduled break in Tengboche I headed in to investigate the monastery. It was very similar to those we had seen in Kathmandu although it was certainly larger. As I left the main chambers and began to put my boots back on I noticed a family being given a full tour. They monks were everywhere to show this family and their police bodyguards a good time. I was able to overhear that this was a visit by the Indian Ambassador to Nepal, a very prestigious honor!
After leaving the monastery we had a looong descent down (see a small example in the photo above). While descending always seems like it will be easy, it is incredibly difficult on my leg muscles. Repeated pounding on my feet makes for a very sore experience.
After stopping for lunch and making our way up the last big uphill and last big downhill, we thought we were golden winding our way on relatively level ground into Namche Bazar. That’s when the weather started to roll in. It started as ominous clouds at first, darkening to suggest we speed up our pace. Despite our best efforts my mom and I were caught in an hour of rain and moments of hail with only our rain jackets to protect us. We had left our rain pants, umbrellas, and other gear in our duffel bags for the yaks to carry unwisely thinking we wouldn’t need it.
We finally reached Namche Bazar and met our guide. He led us through the city on the 10 min walk to reach our lodge. The trail had become a stream through the city and both my mom and I were extremely grateful for our waterproof boots. They saved our feet on this day.
After waiting in the lodge for an hour my gear finally arrived and the feeling of warm dry clothes on my skin was more than wonderful. Today was a long and difficult day and luckily we are now only a day away from reaching the airport of Lukla to begin flying home.