I apologise in advance, twenty four days of trekking provided an incredible adventure and with it a long probably unreadable series of blog posts. If I don’t write it hear then the memories will probably go the same way as my diary. Lost somewhere over 5000 meters.
So here we go…
We arrived in the small rural community of Jiri on the 4th of September. We being myself and Ian, a Londoner who had been in Nepal for a few months and before it India for six. Why Jiri? Perhaps it was snobbishness in avoiding the short cut now taken by the vast majority of trekkers i.e. flying into Lukla, possibly it was cheapness in not wanting to pay a fortune for flights, but in reality it was probably a strong case of insanity. The first major obstacle in the trip was getting to experience the local Nepali public bus system. From Kathmandu it is a ten hour journey through the mountains and at times back into the 1970’s. Hindu Pop blared out of the windows and there was a care-free attitude as to when and who we stopped for. At times the bus dabbled with disaster cramming as many as 100 people of all ages both within and on top of the bus. For a good hour we had the dubious pleasure of holding and entertaining a small child whose mother vanished from view somewhere within the crowds. Further to the people there were huge bags of rice, corn, sugar and even a retro large television that occupied two of the seats.
Fortunately with both ourselves and gear in tact we arrived in Jiri to start the following day. Outside of the bus (described to us as the most dangerous part of the trek), there is one other downside to starting in Jiri. The sheer amount of pain we endured over the course of the six days. Every day we went over 1000 meters in terms of ascents and descents. On one day we descended 2000 meters and ascended 1800 meters. It hurt a lot. The reward…being able to see Nepal at its best. There was a wonderful charm of walking into a tiny village after 10 hours on the path, to be greeted by Nepali families and allowed to share some time with them living under their roof. There were many happy memories from this stage of the trek, whether it be staying under the same roof and indeed being served by guys who had climbed Everest and many of the other highest mountains in the world, or sharing photos from the trek with the children from different families. During one such moment, the youngest of one of the families, five years old and with apparently no English, perked up and disagreed with my definition of a horse, frantically naming it as a donkey. We agreed to differ.
The route from Jiri was the original route taken by Everest explorers of old. At times, with no other Westerners seen for days on the trail it was hard not to feel like a bit of a pioneer. At one stage a playground emptied out onto the path, each child desperately wishing to beg us ‘namaste’ and hear us say it back to them. It was a really special moment.
After five days we hit the main trail from Lukla. It felt like and indeed was a new stage of the adventure. The basic villages with people living off of the land changed to nearly every house being a trekking lodge or restaurant. No more did we have to ask random houses for a room. With the increased commercialism came more fellow trekkers, many in large groups. Fortunately the Jiri stretch had really improved our fitness levels and we powered passed them and up the steep climb into Namche where we spent two days acclimatising. From there we planned to make our way up to Gokyo, across the Cho La Pass and over to base camp. However, as with all well made plans things don’t always work out the way you want it to.