The day before, Socs and I did a reconnaissance walk further up the trail so we had a decent idea of what lay ahead of us. It was a nice trek along the Dudh Koshi river, so called the Milk river as the water is quite extremely white water. This part of the trek was as flat as it gets so it was quite enjoyable with the sound of the rushing water and the mountains surrounding you. Then came THE bridge. This might be the highest bridge we had to cross, and luckily not the longest one.
There was a bit of a climb before reaching the bridge, and it just kept going. It was a hard slog all the way up. I could feel my heart pounding and a bit of a headache started to settle in. It was getting a bit hard to concentrate at times, but this would stop as soon as we took a breather. After bit of this, we came to a rest stop that offered the first view of Mt. Everest. I hesitated looking at it for a while, as I was not sure how I would feel on seeing the mountain “in person” (even though it is miles away at this point). As luck would have it, it was covered in clouds so no view yet.
We proceeded with the climb and it felt like it took forever to get to Namche. Finally around 12:20pm we arrived at our lodge sitting at 3435masl. This is the highest I have ever been before, and no other mountain in the Philippines or in the UK comes close to this elevation. We decided to have a quick rest before exploring Namche, however it did not help at all so I took some paracetamol and felt a little better. So we went out to explore Namche, which is pretty large for a village and had lots to offer. We bought a few personal items in the bazaar which includes a belt buckle replacement for my bag. I also got loads of attention from my Hasselblad, particularly from a couple and and old local who actually knew what film it used. Apparently, he quided a Japanese photographer way back in 1968.
One of the few things I heard about Namche was the excellent apple pie. So Socs and I made a bee line to Everest Bakery and had their wonderful apple pie and Lavazza coffee. A perfect way to cap off a hard day of trekking.
The following day was to be our acclimatization day around Namche, which meant we would be heading up to the villages of Syangboche and Khumjung. Unfortunately the weather did not let up from the night before and Namche was covered in clouds. Since this was only an acclimatization climb and the weather was not particularly good, we took only the basics which where the right clothes, water, snacks and my point and shoot camera. We did not bother to bring my Hasselblad or Socs’ DSLR as we figured the views would not be there. So we headed out in the rain/snow in our wet weather gear.
Everything held up wonderfully except for our gloves. Our hands were freezing! We did not realize that our city gloves would not hack it if the weather turned on us, which in this case it did. Despite this, it was a nice trek up with the snow cover and Socs regretted not bringing her camera as the snow added a bit of appeal to the area. Unfortunately, the cold was wreaking havoc with my camera’s battery so only a (relatively) few pictures were taken.
It was mighty cold in Khumjung so we simply had a quick lunch and headed back down to Namche Bazaar. The weather was better on the way down but it was still cold, so we decided to head straight into the bazaar and have some coffee and another round of apple pie (and buy some goddamn better gloves). We tried out Namche Bakery this time but their apple pie was nowhere near as good as Everest Bakery’s. This, and mostly likely the altitude and cold, as I had a really bad spell of headache and nausea on the way up to our lodge. I took another paracetamol and decided to sleep it of (with lots of layers to get a bit of sweat going). I would prefer a bit more rest but we were off to the next village the following day.