Hiking the Himalayas: Day 2
A short yet intense day of climbing
and our first peek/peak at Everest
With our legs already a little sore from the first day, we set out to tackle our first big hill on our way from Jorsale to Namche. It was only a three hour, 5.5km hike but it's almost entirely uphill as you climb from 2,740 meters to 3,440 meters. Namche is a common stopping place in both directions on the EBC trail for many reasons. It's the biggest town in the region, boasting lots of bars, restaurants and cafes, and even a few banks. It's also situated above 3,000 meters which means Namche is one of the first places you can experience real altitude sickness. For this reason, a rest day or two isn't just encouraged, it's standard practice for any hiker. Dain and I planned to get an early start and arrive in Namche by 10am so we'd have at least 24 hours to acclimatize before we moved on.
Upon leaving Jorsale, you cross another suspension bridge over the river that marks the beginning of your 700m ascent. The hill is pretty grueling but we had warm, breezy weather to keep our spirits high. About halfway up, there's a small rest stop and if you peek through the trees at just the right spot, you can see the top of Everest. It was our first time seeing the mountain and we were both in awe of its magnitude and aware of how far we still had to go to on our journey. We were excited to get a first glimpse of the world's most famous mountain and appreciated the profoundness of what we were seeing, but the best views were yet to come.
We arrived in Namche at 10am, right on schedule even after all the little stops to catch our breath in the noticeably thinning air. The trail into Namche situates you squarely at the base of a crescent-shaped slope in the mountainside and it's a beautiful city in its own right. It's built in tiers like a terraced mountain farm climbing higher and higher towards the top of the mountain ridgeline. It looks out onto the Khumbu Valley we had just trekked alongside and the vast expanse of green hills and white peaks surrounding it. Namche boasts the highest post office and Irish Pub in the world and is the last stop to stock up on trekking gear before you move along.
We had a lot of time to relax once we inhaled a big lunch and settled into the Kala Pattar Lodge, named after a mountain in the area. We caught the tail end of the documentary Into Thin Air detailing the tragic loss of eight Everest summiters at the Irish Pub, sipping hot chocolate and chatting with the bartender who could quote every line in that movie. Later, we read our books, played a few rounds of intense Gin Rummy, and headed off to bed around 8pm. We were usually so exhausted each day that we were asleep by 8pm and up by 6am- such is life when you're doing so much physical activity!