Ray set out this morning from Pheriche. He said he enjoyed his stay at the Himalayan Hotel, which sounds lovely, but Ray laughed and said it is nothing special. But what makes it special is it's location, perched on the side of a mountain with stupendous views of the tall peaks. The morning was quite cold, with a dark sky heavy with clouds. He thought it was going to rain, and he hiked through some of the low clouds for awhile. But then in the afternoon the clouds broke up, the sun came out, and it turned hot. With the clouds dispersing he was treated to wonderful views everywhere.
Ray said he had a fantastic day, really fun, and beautiful and interesting. He hiked by himself, but of course the trail is a busy thoroughfare and he would greet a Sherpa, coming or going, usually carrying a load, every 15 minutes or so. He said it was a dream trek: he is in shape, he is alone with the quiet and peacefulness, alone with his thoughts, surrounded by the beautiful mountains and the lush forests. There is so much to see. He said it was fantastic to descend into the vegetation zone. Yesterday he passed through a small patch of stunted juniper, but today he trekked through vibrant forest, with large trees and rhododendron in full bloom: purples and reds and pinks and whites - so colorful. Along with tiny wildflowers, iris, and pretty creeks trickling down from the heights. Welcome back to Earth!
He stopped for a long break in Tengboche. First at the well-known doughnut shop. This shop has about 2 dozen choices of baked goods. Ray bought a chocolate doughnut, heated in the microwave (!) and a piece of cake. He said he then spent some time studying the carved prayer stones, the architecture. Everything about the village and the monastery he just found fascinating, it really captured his imagination. The monastery was very quiet because most of the trekkers have already passed through. He talked with one of the monks there for 10 or 15 minutes, and really enjoyed the serenity.
He hiked with his Sherpa friends, Kancha and Lakpa, for awhile. The Sherpas are strong, and they hike fast, but they also stop frequently to talk to friends passing by. So when they stop, Ray passes them, then they catch up and pass Ray, and so on all the way to Namche.
Along the way today he came to some Sherpas who were repairing a section of trail. One older fellow sat off to the side asking for donations for the trail work, so Ray contributed to the trail fund.
He reached Namche in late afternoon. Sherap and Lakpa Goma, who run the Panorama Lodge in Namche, had tea waiting for him, and greeted him by name. Ellie at Base Camp had emailed them to let them know Ray would be arriving. After a short rest, Ray decided he would go shopping in Namche Bazaar. He told himself, ok, spend some money and buy some souvenirs. He spent an hour in the Bazaar, wandering through the stalls and shops, looking at all the beautiful and colorful and bewildering array of things for sale. After an hour, he hadn't bought anything, and he returned to the Panorama Lodge for a shower.
Coming from the higher regions, Ray said the Panorama Lodge is a nice place to stay. Sherap and Lakpa Goma are good hosts, they speak good English, and serve delicious meals. Tonight they were having tomato soup, chicken, potatoes, and apple pie. The rooms are clean and comfortable, with modern bathrooms and hot showers.
For the past two days he has seen medical helicopters flying back and forth overhead. He said these flights are primarily emergency to pick up trekkers who are suffering from high altitude sickness. He counted 8 flights today. High altitude pulmonary edema or cerebral edema.
Ray emphasized that the trek in to Everest Base Camp should not be underestimated. The terrain is mountainous, the trail is steep up and down, and it is important to go slowly to acclimatize. He said that if you are in shape, this is a dream hike.
Even though theoretically he is descending from Base Camp, the day was still incredibly strenuous, and it doesn't really feel like he was going down. The terrain is so immense. Up and down all day. When you climb a steep hill it is a long way to the top, and then it is a very long and steep descent down, and as you descend you can look across the valley and see the trail climbing up the next mountainside.
Ray said that after a month of trekking and climbing to the higher camps on Everest, he feels in excellent shape and feels comfortable and is really enjoying the surroundings.
So, he is enjoying Namche and especially the company of his Sherpa friends, Kancha and Lakapa who don't speak much English. They get along really well, and will be together one more day. Namche is incredibly scenic, full of fascinating things to see, even if you don't buy anything in the Bazaar. Ray and I laughed because when he shops, what does he end up buying? Nothing.