A few people this morning got up early to head to a museum in the town but the thought of walking up more steps than I had to, and before food at that, made all of my muscles recoil in horror, so I politely declined in favour of breakfast. They did learn some cool stuff though. I’d asked Sonam what “boche” meant as it was the suffix to a lot of village names. He just kind of shrugged and said, “Place?” So that broadly translates as, “I don’t have a fucking clue.” Fair enough, really. It’s not his language. He’s from Langtang Valley so Nepali isn’t even his first language. The way he puts it is, “I am Nepali but I am not part of Nepali culture. I am part of Buddhist culture. I speak Tamang.” Tamang is just one of the 36 languages in Nepal. His Grandfather was Tibetan, so he also considers himself Tibetan. But anyway. “Boche” means farm, so for example Pangboche means “grasslands farm.” It refers to the yak farms that dominated the area before tourism became a thing. They used to farm naks for cheese and milk and every five years the Tibetans were allowed to cross the border to buy them for meat. Apparently they’re a different kind of Buddhist that are ok with killing animals for food. Buddhism is confusing!
So I’d had it in my head that this day would be nice and easy because all I remembered was the epic climb into Namche which meant that today would be an epic descent. Brain appeared to have blocked out day one. Y’know, that day we spent descending 210 metres from Lukla to Phakding. Fuuuuuck! But where we had lunch, that was lovely. Sonam had asked us earlier if we were ready for lunch and we weren’t, but we should have asked when the next lunch opportunity was. Turns out it was Phakding. My stomach was in the process of digesting itself and was making rumbling noises loud enough to frighten dzopkyos to prove it, and I wasn’t the only hungry one either. I’m whiny enough as it is but if you add hunger I get proper cranky so I was up for stopping earlier, as were a few others. So they found us a place along the way and we all piled in.
Maybe an hour later we started to regret the decision. The food took so long to the point of abject misery. I’m not even shitting you, we could have probably made it to Phakding, ordered, eaten and been halfway to fucking Lukla by the time our food emerged from the kitchen. Sonam was stressed because we were now really behind schedule, we were stressed because dammit, give me food! But they guy who ran the restaurant? He couldn’t have been more pleased. Bless him! Once we’d actually eaten and those of us prone to anger when deprived of food no longer wanted to maim the next person who pointed out that we should indeed have gone to Phakding, we were kinda glad we’d stopped here, he seemed so happy to have customers and we figured he wasn’t in the best locations. Most people heading towards EBC would probably have overnighted or eaten lunch at Phakding, and those heading back were probably, as we were, aiming for Phakding. Food takes a while because it’s not like they can have stuff ready, just in case. That’d lead to waste and you can’t waste food up here. As soon as our stomachs were appeased and several of us bought Snickers bars (for medicinal purposes of course. Can’t attempt a home straight without a medicinal Snickers for energy) we were off and it wasn’t bistari either because we were late.
We bolted up that hill. Seriously, even me whose standard pace would have even Mother Tortoise muttering, “When I said ‘steady and slow’ I had something slightly faster in mind,” we legged it. Christopher pointed out that it was nice to actually have the oxygen available to be able to push yourself. Driven by a desire not to get rained on I pushed and pushed and it hurt but I remembered Kala Patthar and pushed some more. Ok, so I was still one of the last to make it to the top and into Lukla, but fuck it. I made it. And that, my lovelies, is all that bloody matters!
I was half glad my immune system had packed up to be honest. I had a cold which meant I couldn’t smell anything and when you and the nine people you were spending your time with hadn’t showered for ten days, this could be considered a good thing. And then there’s the matter of my feet. Oh man, guys, seriously, my feet have been bad in the past but as soon as I took my trainers off you could smell my feet in Sri Lanka. You could annihilate a small nation with the stench of them.
Also, pretty much all of us, including Sonam, had red, peeling noses. Sonam laughed and called it “Everest gift.” Well thanks, Everest. Maybe don’t bother next time hey. So despite the fact that all of my skin was trying to escape from my face and my armpit hair was practically long enough to braid, I don’t think I’ve ever been so content after a trek. It was a challenge for me, I love walking and have done a couple of long hikes but every time they generally highlight the fact that I really should avoid any activity when the words “multi,” “day” and “trek” run consecutively in the description. But this time I felt really, really good. I think when you have a good trek, good conditions, great guides and amazing company, everything really is possible.
Lukla, Khumbu, Nepal
Altitude: 2860 metres
Activity: Trekking with Adventure Club Trek & Expedition