Familiar Ground and High Land Good Bye

It was such a treat to walk in the Himalayan foothills off the beaten path. Mary Beth’s experience was amazing. She did it backwards: Rural village volunteering immersion, then back country real-Nepal experience through Solu. We had been the only tourists for much of the trek and were as much a spectacle passing through the landscape as the landscape was a spectacle to us. I had seen the Everest Highway before and knew what to expect. It allowed me to enjoy the rural, removed Solu experience far more because I knew what was coming on the Everest Highway. When we finally reached it Mary Beth was just short of disgusted with all the Western influence. Everything from masses of trekking poles to sit-toilets rubbed us the wrong way.

But for me, the Everest Highway was also familiar which endeared it and brought back tons of memories.  People even remembered me from last time I was there. Here are some photo highlights.

Lots of beautiful stupas (religious markers)

 

This was the only Mani wall that was pink!

 

The deliciously frothy green Dudh Koshi River in all its power

 

Gentle, thoughtful scenes that you never see back home.

 

Ohm mani padmi hum phre

 

Entertainment for the tourists

 

Proof that yetis exist (again). I took this exact photo 2 years ago.

 

A decorated public water spout. I thought it was cute.

 

More gorgeous kids!

 

A solar boiler – it heats the kettle of water in about 15 minutes. No fire wood needed. No size comparison here, but the kettle holds easily a gallon, maybe 6 liters. The boiler is about 5 feet in diameter. Even when it’s cold they are close to the sun here.

 

Happy to reach the gate of Sagamatha national park (where Mt Everest lives) Sagarmatha is the Nepali word for Mt Everest.

 

Our Sherpa guide (left) and our porters, Pasang and Tenzing, two of the sweetest, strongest young guys… 17 and 18 years old respectively. They each carried 45-50 lbs for us including their own gear.

 

This one is dear to me. It’s the Namche police post, and it’s been rebuilt! I was so pleasantly surprised. AC funded the rebuilding of this post 2 years ago when we came through. It used to rest on rickety stilts and there was concern that it would fall down the hillside. Happy to see the new construction! (you can read the details in the “Namche Politics” chapter of my book)

 

Acclimation hike to Everest View Lodge – hmmm, why do they call it that 🙂
Everest is the one with the white fluff blowing off of its right side. Mountains from L to R: Tabouche, (black peak I can’t remember), Everest, Nuptse, Ama Dablam, and a touch of Thamserku off the right side.

 

Looking down on Namche from the acclimation hike to Everest View Lodge.

 

Stupas along the Everest Highway with stunning views – Last time I was here we walked this portion in the fog, so I got to see this part of the trail views for the first time – stunning!

 

Porters with huge, heavy loads.

 

Yaks crossing beautiful suspension bridges.

 

Thamserku – one of my favs – from Namche.

 

The streets of Namche – full of shopping and pretty colors.

 

Sherap and Dhoma Sherpa – the hosts of Panorama Lodge. I was so tickled that they remembered me! Such sweet people!

 

Cherry blossoms and a bird I’ve never seen before. Win!

 

The Sherpa Goddess mountain – Khumbe Yul La – protector of the Sherpa people in Khumbu.

 

Stupas with mountain views, galore. I never get tired of them.

 

Then Ang Tsering, our guide took us to the local Lukla market. Not for tourists, but for the locals who need beans and rice and all the regular stuff that locals need… This is the butcher. Notice how the meat arrived – by porter in a basket, unwrapped, up a dusty trail.
Dried red chilis for sale!

 

Eggs – I loved how everyone put their hands all over all the food – from meat to eggs (they had to be shaken), to mustard seed, to lentils, everything was felt and smelled before purchase. Then the money was dropped right on top of the desired goods (see the money in the egg basket) during the transaction.

 

Fresh mutton (goat) which is cut to order with a khukuri (an army knife) right on the spot.

 

Ladies picking over greens

 

Yak butter, cow butter, churpi – hard, dried cheese chunks, fresh curd, soft cheese. All made of yak milk except the cow butter. He’s the dairy guy.

 

I love Lukla. It has just the right mix of authentic Himalayan life and nightlife for tourists. Happy hours, snooker bars, coffee shops and and authentic market for the locals. And shopping, and monasteries and mountains galore. But it also has Himalayan views and sits at 10,000 feet. It’s the highest airport in Nepal (though there is a dirt strip up at Namche, it’s not used because people get sick from flying to it from Kathmandu – too much elevation at once.) But Lukla is the jumping off point for all Everest Summit expeditions as well as Base Camp Treks, Gokyo Ri, Island Peak and Mera Peak. It’s a popular port and a hopping place full of travelers all bound for the mountains.

 

The Lukla airport

 

Beautiful monastery in Lukla. Just walk past the second cow pasture on your right and down some stone stairs.
 
If you are in Lukla, you are either just about to start an adventure, or you just finished one. This was sunrise the morning we flew out. (sniff) 

 

And the next thing you know, you are staring out a dirty plastic window as the Himalayas shrink into the distance.