Apr 11, 2009
City – Khumjung
Elevation – 3,800m (12,500ft)
Trekking Time – 4 hours
Waking up early again, we had breakfast in the lodge before strolling through the town. In Namche there is a market every Saturday where goods are brought up from Kathmandu, Jiri, or Lukla and everyone from the surrounding villages and others from villages at even higher elevations come down to stock up on supplies to bring back to their homes and businesses. They sell everything from cans of kerosene for starting fires to apples from India or China to clothing. It is basically a big gathering of local people and sherpas, pickup stuff that is brought up from the lowlands by porters. We bought some biscuits.
With the challenging day that we endured through yesterday, today is much easier. We started off by visiting a museum on Sherpa history, which displayed information on the people and the development of the area. From there we hiked up a hill that seemed more like a mountain. From a distance, it appeared to be a piece of cake, but once I started up this extremely steep slope, I began having breathing problems. Every 10 minutes or so, I would need to stop and collect myself because I was out of breath. My legs are now fine and wanting me to keep going, but not before I catch a breath. And a climb that I thought would only take 30mins ended up lasting 2 hours as the altitude was starting to get to me. Zita powers pass me and shouts out words of encourage, but I was going to make it no matter what. My stamina was fine, it was just that my lung capacity wasn’t use to the thin air, because at this elevation, there is about 60% of the oxygen that is available at sea level.
Once on a flatter terrain, I was able continue on normally again and pass by the Shyangboche airport. At 3700m, it is one of the highest airports in the world, but looking at the size of the runway, it is obvious why it is no longer in use. Forging ahead on a slight incline, we scale the edge of the mountain for another hour until we reach the Everest View Hotel. This Japanese owned hotel is a luxurious way to stay on the Himalayas and have a view of the highest mountain on earth. We took a half hour tea break here to rest up, rehydrate, and chomp down on some biscuits.
From here we slowly descended towards the town of Khumjung (3,800m) where we had an enormous plate of vegetable fried potatoes smoothered in yak cheese for lunch. As with most of the tea houses, the one we stayed in Khumjung is run by a family, with the mother having recently given birth to a new baby girl. I played her a little lullaby on the ukulele and she instantly fell asleep. Strolling around town, we visited a local school that was founded by New Zealand mountaineer Edmund Hillary, a real hero amongst these parts. Kumar then lead us up the hill to visit a monastery, before we retreated back to our lodge to relax for the night.
More rice and potatoes were had for dinner along with another pot of tea to keep us warm. Each one of these tea houses has a fire place set in the middle of the lounge/dinning area, that would keep wood burning, water boiling, and everyone warm in the evenings. At high elevations, the temperature swing is quite large towards the negative side during the nights, and with my struggles during the hike, I called it an early night to rest up.