David on trail leaving Bupsa
Map of our trekking route from Bupsa to Namche Bazaar via Paiya and Phakding
' Its now 2.40.pm and I am sat in the main room at the Khumbila View Lodge in Paiya. This morning we have had mist, thick cloud, light rain and even a sprinkling of light snow. I got up just after 5.30.am to pack my Sherpa Himalaya expedition bag and rucksack. We had a quick coffee before setting off in the land cruiser just up the hill for a couple of miles. From this point we started walking for 5 hours to arrive in Paiya at lunchtime. As I am writing I can hear the jangling of bells of a mule train heading back down to Bupsa.
I am very aware that today is Lynne's birthday . . . she would have been 69! I miss her so much but I know how much she wanted me to keep on travelling.'
Photo Gallery . . . Press Play! . . . Trek Day 3 . . . Bupsa to Paiya
'The path from Bupsa to Paiya was quite rocky and muddy . . . indeed looking at the map I can now see it is labelled as 'slippery path'! It was very misty for most of our 4 to 5 hour walk. We had breakfast at a lodge en-route. It was very muddy probably due to snow-melt and last night's rain shower plus the constant trampling of the regular mule trains. We often saw men carrying huge loads. One man carrying timber told Mingma that his load was around 80kg!'
Photo Gallery . . . Press Play! . . .Khumbila View Lodge in Paiya
'It's 5.40.pm and I have just popped outside as there is a slight lifting of the cloud high above us here in Paiya. There is a pinkish tinge to the clouds with brief glimpses of the rocky snow peaks around Paiya. Directly south, in the direction of the Lower Khumbu, there is a similar pinkish glow in the sky. But once again the cloud has now rolled back in and it feels very cold. Mingma and the lodge owner Sange have beckoned me to join them in the small lodge kitchen to warm up! They have just boiled some small potatoes and we are now peeling them. Sange's wife has made a garlic/chilli sauce in a wooden mortar and pestle. They are delicious!
Sange is now praying infront of a large shrine in the main room of the lodge. As well as a lodge owner he is also a Buddhist lama . . . a spiritual leader in the local Paiya community. This is a wonderful travel experience witnessing daily life and Sherpa traditions . . . all made possible by travelling solo with Mingma and Tendi. As I write another mule train with jangling bells is passing by. The ponies are carrying empty gas cylinders down the trail back to Bupsa. Two boys have just arrived home from their secondary school . . . it is a 3 hour walk from Paiya! During the week they stay at the school hostel for 4 nights.
Sange is a cousin of Mingma. He comes from the same remote village that we saw high up in the mountains yesterday. He climbed on Everest in 1996 and 1997. He didn't get to the summit but he did get up to the 'South Summit' and 'Balcony' but had to descend as he suffered frost bite losing the ends of his fingers! However he did successfully summit Manaslu and Ama Dablam and other peaks.
Early morning outside our lodge in Paiya
'I woke up this morning at 6.15.am opening the curtains to find the sky was clear! I quickly packed my Sherpa Himalaya expedition bag and my rucksack. I was so excited to get outside to see the surounding mountains! Our lodge is perched high on the spur of a mountain at 2800 metres (9,186 feet). The surrounding snowy peaks were bathed in the early morning sunshine. It was just awesome . . . everything I dreamed it would be like . . . indeed I felt quite emotional!'
Photo Gallery . . . Press Play! . . . Trek Day 4 . . . Paiya to Phakding
'I am now sat in the dining room of the Sherpa Guide Lodge here in Phakding at 2,610 metres (8,563 feet). They have just lit the wood stove so I am sat at the nearest table to it! It is certainly churning out some heat . . . its quite cold even inside the lodge . . . and so I am wearing my thick 'Mountain Equipment' fleece plus my 'Rab' down gillet. I am wearing my 'Montane' trekking slippers for the first time . . . they are very warm and comfy!
This morning we set off from Paiya at around 8am after a breakfast of dal baht. It remained clear until 10am when the clouds started to gather . . . firstly around the higher peaks before descending lower into the valley sides of the Dudh Kosi. The first four hours, mainly downhill, was rocky and very muddy . . . due to constant mule train traffic and melting snow. I had to really concentrate in my descent to Surke at 2,290 metres (7,513 feet). We were now quite close to the Dudh Kosi River . . . its turquoise and milky white glacial waters were roaring down the valley.
For only the second time since leaving Kathmandu I briefly met and chatted to a non-Nepali ( in Bupsa I had met a Japanese trekker . . . he was about my age . . . in his twenties he had been a climber getting to Camp 5 on K2!!!) This second trekker was Jimmy from Toronto in Canada . . . he was a 'real' traveller keeping off the beaten track and travelling very light. This was still a remoter trail as it hadn't yet joined up with the main trail to Everest from Lukla. He said the clear weather in the mornings is set to continue . . . I really hope so!'
'My room in the Sherpa Guide Lodge is perfect and really cosy. The lodge looks quite new . . . all in traditional Sherpa style. In normal times the lodge would be quite full . . . especially in the main trekking season but tonight only Mingma, Tendi and I are staying here. Mingma, the owners and other Sherpas are all chatting. I have just enjoyed my evening meal . . . as I have had dal baht for lunch and dinner for the past 4 days I took the opportunity to have the chance for something different. Mingma said the pizzas were good here and he was right! It was so big I shared it with Mingma and Tendi. I also loved the delicious garlic soup.'
Early morning in Phakding
'We set off from Phakding at 7.30.am. Once again the day dawned clear with tantalising views of the surrounding Himalayan peaks . . . see above photo. We followed the Dudh Kosi River for three hours from Phakding to the village of Jorsalle at 2,740 metres (7,513 feet). We crossed over a few spectacular suspension bridges. We had to make sure there were no yaks crossing at the same time! Actually they were 'dzo' at this altitude which is a hybrid between the yak and domestic catlle. The drop below the bridge down to the roaring turquoise glacial river was massive . . . but the steel bridge structure was extremely well-built . . . so I didn't get any wobbly knees!
We had an excellent 'dal baht' lunch at the 'Sherpa Family Restaurant' in Jorsalle. The lodge was run by a lovely young Sherpa couple called Pemba Dorje Sherpa and his wife Angpsuti. They have a beautiful 7 week old baby girl called Pasang Dedstn Sherpa . . . see photos. As we left the lodge a train of fully loaded 'dzo' were making their way through the village . . . evetually making for Namche Bazaar. It was here I met my first group of trekkers . . . they were from Brighton in the UK . . . they were on a charity trek.'
Photo Gallery . . . Press Play! . . . Trek Day 5 . . . Phakding to Namche Bazaar
'Leaving Jorsalle we crossed another steel suspension bridge over the Dudh Kosi. We then had our first view of the awesome Hillary Suspension Bridge with an older bridge underneath it! This spectacular bridge is named after Sir Edmund Hillary, who along with Tenzing Norgay were the first people to summit Everest in 1953. Of course for those of you know me as a passionate follower of the British Everest Expeditions of the 1920's I believe George Mallory may have got to the summit from the Tibetan side in 1924 . . . but that is another story! This incredible bridge must be crossed by all EBC bound travellers. It crosses the Dudh Kosi in a rocky canyon . . . it is covered in Buddhist prayer flags and 'kata' scarves. I was so excited!!! The bridge is 140 metres (459 feet) long and 125 metres (410 feet) above the roaring river below. It frequently sways in the high-altitude winds . . . I could feel it move as I crossed to the other side!
It was then a very long steep climb up through dense pine forest to Namche Bazaar. We eventually arrived in Namche perched high in a bowl-shaped valley by mid afternoon. We walked up through the Sherpa capital to reach our lodge where we will be staying for 2 nights . . . the 'Friendship Lodge'. It is located in the upper reaches of Namche with stunning views of the surrounding mountains. I felt really good considering we had just climbed 830 metres (2,723 feet) from Jorsalle to Namche Bazaar which is at an altitude of 3410 metres (11,188 feet). In fact Mingma took a reading of my blood oxygen rate with a finger pulse clip . . . it was 86 which Mingma said was good. Mingma and Tedi's readings were in the 90's.
I spent the late afternoon catching up with sending WhatsApp messages to Louisa and Susie plus posting on the MacsAdventure Community Group. It was the first time we had good WiFi in ages.'
Early evening view from my room in the Friendship Lodge in Namche Bazaar
'The huge mountain with many peaks directly across from Namche Bazaar is Kongde Ri. All these mountains to the south-west are part of the 'Rolwaling Himal'. To the south-east is Kusum Kanggaru with Thamserku to the east. I spent the evening reading up about our acclimatisation day tomorrow. I am so excited at the prospect of hopefully seeing Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse and the beautiful Ama Dablam from the ridge high above Namche Bazaar!!'
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"A walk in nature walks the soul back home."