So excited to go back into Nepal after 2016 ( see previous blog post) trip in and hanging out with my Nepalese family again ! Trek into the beautiful valley of Seduwa and fulfill my dream of trekking into Everest Base Camp.
Journey begins with 9 amazing women that will be taking the trip into the Seduwa Village and to present the people with a Rice Mill that we raised enough funds over the last year to give to them through Souper Nepal – Lea Ross…..
Arrived in Nepal 1.30am , settled into the Potala for the night with a wake up call at 5.15am. Morning tea and breakfast, meet up with Tek & Ashok Rai ( so happy to be reunited with our Nepalese family again) then off to the airport for a 45 minute flight into Tumlingtar. Again to see Mt Everest and those mighty Himalayan mountains from the plane , such incredible beauty.
Jeeps arrive in Tumlingtar and now for our journey into Num. Not much has changed on this hwy, still gravel , bumps and steep drop offs. After a 8 hour jeep ride we arrived in Num in time for dinner and bed. Was fabulous to stay in the same tea house we were in 2 years ago. Everyone remembered us, I had brought with me copies of photographs of our last adventure here so I could give them out to them, priceless !
We got news that the Rice Mill had arrived in Num, and the only way to get this piece of machinery was to take in by hand. For us its a 5 hour trek down to the Arun River and 7 hours up into Seduwa Village. 6 guys were to carry this Mill on bamboo poles.
Time to start our trek into Seduwa, mother natures stair master….Down Down Down towards the Arun River we go.
Regrouping at the Arun River we started the incline up towards Seduwa. Had a lunch stop at the only tea house along the way .
The absolute beauty of this area in Nepal floors me. I remember our last trip in 2016 where it was lush forest all of the way. Now with the new roads that are being built down near to the river, I guess its progress ….. I can only imagine how much this area will have changed in future trips here.
Lunch of yummy Dal Bhat Curry , we make our way into Seduwa about an hour away. Happy to see the Makulu school and passing the local houses on the way. I recognize some of the kids and they all know that we are coming. Reached Seduwa Village with a beautiful Welcome sign and grandma running to see me. Oh gosh the hugs were amazing.
Settled in with some yummy Milk Tea , had our tents set up with marigolds bouquets. Visited with the kids and shared photo’s of my last journey here with them. Oh the excitement in their faces was all that I needed . Precious !
Breakfast tea at 6.30am – the best! I so love the smells, sights, laughter than surrounds us in the village. The kids share and all play well together, no screaming or crying… they have such a community .
Next on the agenda was the welcome to Seduwa Ceremony, the village gave us an amazing show of dancing, singing and instrument playing. Followed by the Tika and Marigold welcome. We all had our turn to speak , which was all translated into Nepalese by Tek.
24 hour Dal Bhat power for lunch, then off to the Makulu School for a welcoming from the school children and teachers. My favorite time in Seduwa is hanging out with the kids and showering them with school supplies and lots of fun toys.
As we were leaving the school the Rice Mill was trekked in. These guys started at 3.30am from Num and arrived in Seduwa at 4.00pm.
After a day of celebration , dinner time and we were invited into Tek’s brothers house to try the local food and Roxy ( hooch). It was 7.00pm bedtime ! Up bright and early, milk tea , breakfast then off up the hill to where the villagers have cleared some land for the Rice Mill to be placed.
After the Rice Mill Ceremony we headed up to the School administrators house for a Dal Bhat lunch over looking the Seduwa Valley into Num.
Packed up and ready to trek back into Num, world wind trip to Seduwa .. I have no words to express the feeling’s that I have for the beautiful people of Seduwa . I so loved my time there again and wanting to return when I can .
After a scary jeep ride up the second half on the mountain, we arrived in Num for the night. Checked in with the girls that were unable to make into Seduwa. Was lovely to see them again. Up early for our 8 hour jeep ride into Tumlingtar and plane ride back to Kathmandu.
After a day of plane delay to due low cloud in Kathmandu , we finally touch down in Kathmandu and a hot shower at the Potala. Pizza dinner and bed. Next morning after breakfast I headed up to my room to panic as I was heading to my next destination of EVEREST BASE CAMP in a couple of days Tek, Ashok and Ram arrive to give me the run down of the 15 day trek and now the nerves are kicking in. There will only be Ashok (guide) Ram ( porter ) and myself doing this amazing adventure. Excited….. Out for a Rai family farewell dinner to the girls ( they are heading to Thailand) and bed for a early start…
Think I had like 2 hours sleep and up at 3.45am to get to the airport. Holly and Lea came down to the foyer to wish me and the boys a safe and wonderful trip.
And the journey of my lifetime begins……………………
6.15am Flight into Lukla on a 14 seater 2 prop plane…… and it was the most amazing flight ever. We hugged the Himalaya’s for about 20 minutes, watching the sunrise over those mighty mountains. Ashok slept all the flight, seasoned flyer…. We started to descend in between the lower mountains, lots of villages and then I spy the tiny tiny runway at the edge of the cliff…..
Hustle off the plane, it’s pretty cold here at 9350 feet at 7.00am in the morning, the day is clear and after picking up our bags we head out of Lukla to our first stop in Phakding. Feeling the altitude a little , though I am tired ( was to excited or nervous to sleep) . Taking our time as we follow the Dudhkoshi River , the color is a beautiful blue, green as its Glacier fed. Sharing the trail with the Yaks, Donkey’s and Dzo as this is the trail towards to the famous Namche Bazar Market. Stopped for some milk tea , to boost up the energy level and soak in the morning sun and being surrounded by the mighty Himalaya .. Arrived in Phakding 8316 ft. after 3 hours of trekking. River Side Lodge is our bunk for the night, sat outside with my noodles and fries to watch the coming and going of the pack animals , porters and trekkers. Nana nap time , milk tea then off for a walk to the Gomela Monastery up the hill… The monastery are all up the hill………….Ashok is such a wealth of information, so grateful to have him as a friend and guide and brother Bhai.
Oh the full moon and the stars were incredible last night.. Today we are trekking into Namche Bazar which is 11,246 feet in elevation. Lots of trekkers on the trail heading up to Base Camp, as we follow the river. We enter the National Park and get our permits to go through. Slowly climbing and we reach a double high suspension bridge. Holy Moly… Then got my first peek of Mt Everest. She is amazing! After 5 hours of uphill we reach Namche Bazar. What an incredible sight, nestled into the mountain. Get into our hotel , rest, dinner and then off to the helicopter pad for a night photo shoot. It’s is something to be experienced, I have no words to describe the beauty.
Spending the day and night in Namche to acclimatize , this doesn’t mean a rest day…. We hiked up to the Everest View Hotel, and yes the name of the hotel say’s it all. Out on the patio we drank milk tea with the view of Everest, Ama Dablam, Horse Saddle, Lhotse and Nuptse. Over the last 10 years its been my dream to see these views with my own 2 eyes and now I am here. Heading back down into Namche, we stopped at the Airport strip that is no longer in use, as single prop planes are now not allowed into the Khumbu Region… Next to the airport we looked around at the burial memorials of the Namche People. In Buddhism they cremate and offer the ashes to the sky. Lines and Lines of beautiful prayer flags which the families hang in honor the dead. Next stop was the museum and learn about the history of Namche. In honor of Tenzig Norgay there is a statue which faces Mt Everest.
Up bright and early , its an amazing sunny cold day . This where are journey takes us on the less beaten path. My chosen route will take me to EBC via Goyko Lake ( its the long way around) and I have the best guide and porter that have joined me for this journey. Next destination is Thame at 12,411 feet, this was such a quiet trek, following the river and had only come across locals and a few trekkers heading back to Namche and Lukla. The temperature reaches around 24cel , being in the high altitude you burn really easy. Stop for some morning tea and eats then trek on down to the river with some lovely waterfalls. Must get really cold at night as there was iced formed in the creeks. We arrive after 4 hours into the lovely village of Thame. Staying at the Everest Summiteer Lodge. I’m the only guest…. The lodge is owned by the famous Apa Sherpa , he has summited Everest 21 times and the lodge is full of photographs, awards, equipment and articles. Of course after some milk tea , Ashok and I went up to the Monastery , and we walked around inside, Ashok being the wealth of information about these monasteries gives me the run down on not to point at what to ask a question about, to lay your hand out in the direction of the question instead, walk backwards from the god’s for 3 steps before turning around. I was able to light 3 butter lamps in honor of my family members that have passed and flick water into each lamp then say a prayer for all of them. That was really special and will remain a beautiful memory forever. Thame has the oldest Mani Stones in Nepal and the Monastery is over 1000 years old. We had a beautiful hike back to the Lodge overlooking the village, its really starting to get cold as the sun goes down, no appetite nerves are kicking in for the pass we are crossing in a couple of days. This was the time I really wanted a buddy to hash out these nervous feelings with, and that buddy was Ashok, he knew I was worried about the pass, we had an amazing heart to heart – You are Stronger than you think , don’t ever let the voices of strangers stories get into your head, they are their stories… Write you own….. and I have ever since!!!
Beautiful sunrise from my very chilly room, packing my gear up took forever ..I think everything expands in elevation…The sun rays warm us as we start our trek into Lumde at 14,320 feet. Not too much gain, just a steady uphill all the way. Following the tributary of the river, passing all of the yards made of rock where the yak graze in the summer time. Ashok tells me there is green grass everywhere, right now as its winter the ground is sandy tundra and very dusty. Across the other side of the river tributary is the Salt Trail from Tibet, the trading route. The mountains that surround us are used in ice training for the mountaineers. I can see why. High clouds are moving in, we may have some weather coming our way. Arrive at our teahouse, lots of trekkers ..some of them have been there for days waiting to trek the Renjo La Pass ?????
4.30am …packed and ready for the long haul up to Renjo La Pass at 17,503 feet on our way to Gokyo Lake. Its so cold out that I have my down jacket, toque and mitts on , thinking its – 15cel… Brrr… Sunrise is amazing, and the trek winds us up around the hills forever. Then I see the pass way up there. Moving forward one step at a time, feeling the elevation for sure. Along the trail we come to frozen lakes and start to climb the stairway to the pass. I see ahead the prayer flags, which tell me we are nearing the top of the pass, sure was a beautiful moment at the top. We stopped for a good 1/2 hour to take it all in . I was so very happy. I can see Mt Everest through the clouds as its higher than the jet stream, as well as Makalu and Lhotse and Gokyo Lake all the way down the pass… Destination for the night. Gokyo Lake is the highest fresh water lake in the world. The descent down was harder than the climb, total concentration otherwise your on your butt , or over the edge..
Stop for a bite to eat, not everyday you can do that with a view of Mt Everest… Continue down around the lake an into Goyko, its been rewarding day and after 8.5 hours I am done! Staying in the Gokyo Resort right on the Lake ..
Amazing sleep …. Head out for a stroll lakeside meet up with Ram then start the trek into Thangnok. We had to cross the Ngozumba Glacier which took us 1.5 hours. Oh and the noise of the glacier moving was incredible and a wee bit scary. Was a short trek today around 2.5 hours with the elevation at 15,702 feet at Thangnok. Spend the day relaxing , doing laundry beside the yaks that wont move. Priceless… beautiful afternoon then the winds kicks up and blows dust, dirt, silt from the glacier and the laundry… Our tea house for the night is the Chola Pass Resort. They have an ingenious way of heating up water with a satellite dish, with solar panels and inside the dish is an iron bar where you can hang a metal container of water to heat. Even if its freezing in the Winter time, if you stand out in the sun you sure do warm up quick and burn super easy. Early to bed as we have the hardest glacier pass tomorrow…
5.00am start… a big day ahead of us to get up to the Chola Pass at 17,500 feet and onto Dzongla at 15,846 feet.. Watching the sunrise over the mountains and the stars are shining bright. Up Up and more up, lots of boulder and four point climbing. At this stage my trekking poles are a pain so they are ditched. As we are reaching the pass, I had to stop to catch my breath quite often. Eventually Ram took my day pack ( much to my dislike) . We had about 100 meters until we reached the top of the pass so it did make the going a wee bit easier. Reaching the top of the Chola Pass there was the blue ice of the glacier we had to go down. I was sure happy that I had brought along my micro spikes as there were people that had no traction for their hiking boots. The Nepalese put socks over there running shoes. After a little while taking in the views we start to make our way slowly down the glacier. Took us around an hour to get down and to where we could take off our spikes. Talk about an adrenaline rush… Onto the next view point for lunch and an incredible view of Ama Dablam Mountain in all of her glory. Wow… Trek through the tundra in awe of the mountain range that surrounds me. The north face of Cholatse right in my face.. Get to our tea house in Dzongla called the Maison Sherpa. Big dinner of spaghetti and cheese . After dinner Ashok informs me of a Chinese trekker that fell into the crevasse of the glacier we walked down. He was on the wrong side of the glacier…… Happy that the hardest part of the trek is now done and proud!!!!
Woke up a few times last night with a stab of a headache, then felt ice on the comforter , it was frozen where my breath was reaching it. I stuff my clothes that I am wearing the next day in my sleeping bag as they stay warm in there all night. Got up and thawed out my water hose on my backpack. Destination today is Lobuche at 16,243 feet. A 3 hour trek brings us into Lobuche and view of Nupste Mountain. I can see the Khumbu Glacier now that we are on the main trekking path to Everest Base Camp, with that comes lots more people. Our plan for tomorrow is to trek into Base Camp and return in one day as it will only be colder staying in elevation. Its mighty cold here so I spend my time outside in the sun out of the wind. They don’t start the heat in the dining room until the evening, the heater is a big tin barrel loaded up with Yak Dung and kerosene… Yes that is right…. There are no trees or wood to be seen … Head outside for a sunset shoot until our hands freeze… Lots of female trekkers on their own with guides, its so awesome!
Everest Base Camp here we come…… 17,352 feet… Excitement starts early at 6.00am and its so cold. Start our trek with the sun just coming into the valley to warm us up. Note trekking poles suck when it comes to hiking through the rocky moraine. We reach Gorak Shep around 9.00am, its really quiet so we keep moving to EBC to beat the crowds. Following the Khumbu Glacier is incredible, after years of watching documentaries reading loads of books I am finally here. I have no words to describe the immense size of this glacier and hearing it move …WOW… Four hours of trekking and we reach Base Camp. I sat down and really took in the incredible beauty and cried tears of joy. And I even got to call Brian in Canada and tell him that I am now at EBC !!!!! We stayed for around an hour, taking photo’s and just being in that moment. I could just imagine how busy it would be in the Spring time with the mountaineers and tents that cover this area to summit Mt Everest. Placed our prayer flags as we did at every pass on this journey and started our trek back to Lobuche as the crowds were heading up to EBC. Trek time back was around 3 hours as it was downhill. Arrived back with lots of time for rest and popcorn around the barrel fire!
Can’t say I am unhappy about leaving our accommodation at Lobuche….. Moving on…. Our destination today is Pangboche at 16,148 feet and its downhill!!! On our way out of Lobuche we stop at the memorial site for the hundreds that have died at Everest. Took my time at every memorial to remember these lost souls… Great lunch of hot mango juice and fries with views of the Khumbu valley. Lots of helicopters flying up the valley towards Lobuche and Gorak Shep for emergency evacuations. Scary…. Making our way through the Yak Farms and head over to the Pangboche Monastery , it was built in the 16th Century and its the oldest Monastery in the Everest Region. Took a walk through and displayed I saw a Yeti skull and hand, this place is known for the Flying Lama from Tibet who befriended a Yeti while meditating in the caves above the Monastery. As we descend it nice to see the forest and shrubs that are starting to appear, and it’s so much warmer. Our tea house for the night is Highland Sherpa Resort. Such a clear and beautiful night that we head out into the yak field and do a night shoot.
Woke to a Yak convoy at 5.00am, stayed in bed as it was freezing cold. Thank goodness for heat packs on this trek!! Milk tea, cornflakes and off we go to our next destination of Namche at 13,057 feet. Loosing elevation fast and I can so feel the difference. Walking by all the trekkers that are heading up to EBC sucking wind…. Nice trek through the forest and stopped at the Nun Monastery . Not as big as the Monk Monastery though the nuns are an important role in Buddhism. Headed on and up to the Tengboche Monastery, so big and beautiful. You can see this monastery from Mt Everest summit. On trek takes us a long way down the hillside only to realize that we must go all the way up to the other side . Following a ridge trail into Namche. We have come a full circle. Check into our teahouse and can finally hook up to wifi and message the world to let them know that I am safe and sound.. So nice to touch base with family and friends again. Had the afternoon to wander around Namche and browse. You don’t need a stair master in Nepal… ever…. nope never….
Lazy morning as our trek today is all downhill to Phaking at 11,259 feet. Another chilly morning start , lots of animal and trekker action on the trail. Feeling tired today, this amazing journey is coming to an end tomorrow when we reach Lukla. We arrive at our Tea house the River Side at noon, the cloud is very low and its cold. They are saying snow tomorrow afternoon in Lukla. Headed down to the river do for some long exposure pics. Sure has been fun working with Ashok and his photography. We are a good team.
Bitter sweet trek today into Lukla at 9,343 feet, I focus on the last 14 days of this incredible journey , the blood sweat and tears have been worth every moment and how fortunate that I have had 2 beautiful human’s Ashok and Ram with me every step. Would not and could not have done this without those 2. We arrive in Lukla around noon, lunch and a HOT SHOWER , after 15 days without one….. Took a walk into Lukla village , watch the take off and landing’s ( they say this is the most dangerous airport in the world) and it starts snowing and it gets really cold. All flights in and out of Lukla have stopped as there is no visibility . This is why you give yourself 2 extra days because you may end up trekking out instead of flying. We are staying at the Villa which is right next to the Lukla runway. The crank up the heat around 5, dinner and early to bed, too cold to stay up.
On one of the first flights out of Lukla today, 4.30am wake up , breakfast and walk up to the airport. Its a beautiful cold clear morning, so we are Kathmandu bound. We watch 4 planes land one after the other , then board for our flight off the cliff. The pilot revs those engines as fast as they go and we head downhill on the runway at mock speed. Its such a weird feeling, though I was very happy when we were air bound before the end of the runway. Arrive in Kathmandu early morning and I am off to Ashok’s house for an overnight home stay. We settle into home , have some lunch and a nap then catch a cab to Pashupatinath Temple along the Bagmati River. Witnessed a cremation on the burning Ghats , was very emotional and touching to watch the ashes being placed in the Bagmati River. We then headed over to Boudhanath Stupa, one of my favorite area’s in Kathmandu. Had a wonderful walk around the stupa and took some night photo’s. Ram and I headed up to the Himalayan Java for a latte. Ram has never had a latte before, it was a real treat for him. We arrive back at Ashok’s house and his mom Sommati, ( she doesn’t speak English and my Nepalese consists of a handful of words) hug and Ashok translates for us. We met back in 2016 . After an amazing dinner , sleep time.
I am so deeply grateful to the Rai family for their hospitality , guidance , and support. You all are truly beautiful people and forever my Nepalese family. Until we can see each other again… Namaste !
What I have learnt about myself over the last 5 weeks of travel in Nepal has helped me grow into a more strong, courageous woman, life is way to short to not follow your DREAMS .. Hope you have enjoyed this journey as much as I have had sharing it with you !