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Namche to Khumjung, Himalayas

April 23, 2009

Yesterday was an acclimitization day, so I was awakened at 5AM for another gruelling hike up vertical stone steps to see Everest at sunrise. Unfortunately it was shrouded by clouds, but the neighboring peaks of Lhotse and Ama Dablam were stunning. After breakfast we did another short hike to a small terraced village and then back to Namche, where I had a real hot shower and spent the afternoon shopping at the Bazaar. The jewelry is amazing and so cheap, I bought several pieces & a yak fur hat and booties. For dinner I tried the tuna pizza with yak cheese, which was great, kind of like an open-faced tuna melt. The menus have been very similar at all the tea houses - lots of Chinese food - fried rice, fried noodles, momo (like mandoo) and you can have them with either meat, eggs, or veggies. And they usually have pizzas and pancakes (one big doughy pancake), lots of potato dishes - hash browns with all kinds of spices & lots of curry was amazing - and then all the traditional food, like dahl baht (veggies & rice & you pour lentil soup over it) and sherpa stew, which is a mix of everything they have. I haven't braved the yak steaks yet but might try it on my way down.

Our hike today was a short but difficult one. It took about 3 1/2 hours to reach the small village of Khumjung. The trail was steep in places and dropped off a cliff to one side in other places, but the view was spectacular the whole way. Stunning high peaks on all sides. Towering above us, higher than the clouds. I can't take my eyes away from them, they are so, so beautiful. I can understand now why people die to climb these mountains. I am trudging along at 12,000 feet but my whole being longs to stand on the powdery white peaks, to be on top of the world. The trail continues through countless stupas and prayer wheels and mani stones, which are carved stone tablets, sometimes painted, sometimes plain, sometimes carved on a huge boulder, but often on slabs piled up along the trail. We stop briefly at the Everest View Hotel, a Japanese establishment, which, as the name implies, has spectacular views of the mountains. From here, Everest is not as impressive as the surrounding peaks because it is still far in the distance, but will loom larger as we get closer.

Tonight we stay at Khumjung, a small village tucked away on the mountainside. Everything is made of dry-laid stone. The extensive stone-walled terrace system reminds me of taro lo'i, and I long to draw a plan view map of the place. But no time for that. We check into our tea house then head to the monastery, where they have a yeti skull on display. It is unlike any skull I have seen; very oblong, and there is long black thick hair still attached. I was told that there was no internet here, so I didn't bring my cables to download pictures (I've been trying to travel as light as possible) but I happened across an internet cafe during our village walk. I am enjoying all your comments, as I feel a bit alone among the Aussies & haven't heard much from my family at home. There are times when I seriously think I will not be able to reach Base Camp. The hike is much more challenging than I had imagined. But I push forward, tackling each day at a time, and taking in all that I can along the way. Tomorrow we will be at Tengboche, the highest monastery in the world.

Tags: himalayas, khumjung, namche, nepal, travel, trekking

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