Exploring Monjo

Exploring Monjo

 

Our lodge in Monjo had an outside area with tables in the sun and an orchard out the back, growing apples of course.

Monjo Guest House EBC Trek

A relaxing place to sit in the sun at the Monjo Guest House

As it was an easy walk to Monjo and after a hot shower we went for a short walk through the village to take some photos.

View of Kumbila Peak Monjo

View of Kumbila Peak from Monjo

Prayer Stones in Nepal

Om Mani Padme Hum Prayer stones

Meal for two at Monjo Guest House

Meal for two at Monjo Guest House

 

 

Day 3 Monjo to Namche Bazaar

Day 3 The Big Day

Most treks do Phakding to Namche Bazaar on day two. Before we left Australia, the Trainer  decided to add a day to our itinerary and walk to Namche Bazaar on Day 3 instead.We had time and it would be easier on our legs and lungs. I was happy for him to do all the research and planning and trusted his judgement. From my minimal research and a friend’s first hand experience I knew the infamous climb to Namche Bazaar was a hard one. The friend had trekked with  group and had been one of the earliest to arrive. He sat in a cafe and watched others from his group walk into the town. One very tough character from their group finally arrived, absolutely exhausted. He came up to my friend with tears in his eyes, hugged him and said that it had been the hardest day of his life. So when we set out from the tea house in Monjo I was mentally prepared and planned to take it slowly.

Just outside of Monjo is the entrance to the Sagarmantha National Park the checkpoint where Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS) card details are recorded.

The Sagarmantha National Park entrance outside Monjo

The Sagarmantha National Park entrance outside Monjo

I realised I wasn’t quite up to the local speed when a woman who looked 80 passed me with a load of 40 kilos of cabbages on her back.

The bridge to Jorsale festooned with prayer flags. on the way to Namche Bazaar.

The bridge to Jorsale festooned with prayer flags

In front two bridges over the Dudh Kosi gorge

A rest before the climb to the higher bridge at the Dudh Kosi Gorge and famous bridge.

Made It off the highest scary bridge

Almost off the high bridge across the Dudh Kosi Gorge

Fruit sellers on the Everest Base Camp trail on the climb to Namche Bazaar.

Fruit sellers on the climb to Namche Bazaar

One of the rewards of a strenous day's climb.

A reward of a strenuous day’s climb – the first view of Everest

Yes that is the trail around the mountain.

The trail around the mountain

Everest Base Camp Trek

The infamous climb to Namche Bazaar almost finished

Day 2 Phakding to Monjo

Phakding to Monjo Day Two Trek to Everest Base Camp

Follow the Pumpkin Coloured Backpack

This day was a short walk. For many trekking tours Day 2 is Phakding to Namche Bazaar. The climb to Namche Bazaar is a big day so the Trainer added a day to our itinerary so we didn’t need to rush and allow time to acclimatise to the altitude. Groups leaving our lodge for Namche a good hour before us. Setting out we looked forward to a leisurely day.

Phakding EBC Trek

Before leaving Melbourne our plans to trek the Everest Base Camp by ourselves and without a guide or porter had a few people concerned. Me as well. The Trainer explained to my mother before we left that trekking the trail is not like trekking a in remote location. He explained the trail is through villages with small tea houses dotted all the way, with lots of people trekking, porters and Nepalis going about their daily business including school kids walking to school. We did in fact see many children walking to school along the trail. Small children in small groups without adults running to school had my  herd mother radar working on overdrive at times.

Everest Base Camp

Kids walking to school

 
Phakding to Monjo

Vegetable gardens and stone walls line the trail through many villages. Note the Donkey train coming up the path.

Phakding to Monjo

Different types of prayer wheels are all along the trail. The important thing to remember is to turn them clockwise.

Bridge across Dudh Kosi

Cable  hanging bridge across the Dudh Kosi river after Benkar. I got off the bridges as quickly as possible.

 

Crossing the river Phakding to Monjo

Donkey trains on trek were a fascination for me. Doing a bit of traffic duty and keeping the slow ones moving while waiting on the sidelines.

Doing a bit of traffic duty and keeping the slow donkeys moving from the safety of the sidelines. Chuk Chuk!

Day 1 Lukla to Phakding

2013 Trek to Everest Base Camp

For our 2013 Everest Base Camp trek training and preparation, videos and photos helped get an idea of what the trail would be like. One particular photo made me realise the need for step training. However the guide book and  The Trainer’s overview of the first day’s walk to Phakding didn’t quite match up with the experience. A two hour easy down hill walk said the guide book. Sam had done all the research and his words echoed the book. In the next few days I was about to discover how important  mental  preparation is.

What I wasn’t prepared for

Before we started out for Phakding my idea of downhill was downhill – not up hill and down hill in a general down hill direction. It took us about four and half hours walking and I thought we would never get to Phakding. From experience trekking in the Anna Purna region years ago, the Trainer had forewarned me the trail would be uneven and rocky. He had done a great job as personal trainer of designing  our training to prepare us for this. The track varied incredibly on the first day from cobblestones in Lukla,  to meandering flat paths, to rocky steps and very rocky sections. In the scheme of things Lukla to Phakding is an easy day and now we know to double the time needed in one guide book. A second guide  book now seems closer to the mark in terms of time.

The Everest Base Camp trail goes through small villages and can is narrow in parts. Shared by trekkers, porters, pack animals (yaks, donkeys and horses) and kids on their way to school and can be busy. I selected the photos to show how the track varies on the first day.

Walking out of Lukla

 

Lukla to Phakding Everest Base Camp Trek

 

Lukla to Phakding Everest Base Camp Trek

 

Lukla to Phakding Everest Base Camp trek

 

Two Hours to Tengboche

Day Five Namche Bazaar to Tengboche

I knew that Day 3 of our itinerary, climbing to Namche Bazaar would be strenuous. We trained well and  though it wasn’t easy we managed the climb well.

When we set out two days later for Tengboche, Sam told me it would be a relatively easy day. That proved far from the case. We had a breather at the top of Namche after a steep climb out of the amphitheatre – shaped town. After a few more challenging hills with spectacular views, the track really leveled out. That bit was the honeymoon period.

The trail then descends 570 metres to the river after crossing this, there is a relentless 750 metres 2-3 hours climb (according to the guide book) to Tengboche. I am sure this section would have taken us much longer.

The funniest bit was the signage. Not far from Namche there was sign “2 hours to Tengboche”. Two hours further along the track there was another sign “2 hours to Tengboche” and then about another two hours further on, you guessed it – “2 hours to Tengboche”. Hence the comment on the video and the post title. At one point we stopped to catch our breath. Another trekker was doing the same with his guide waiting for him. When we asked the guide how much longer to the top, what do you think he replied? I couldn’t believe it.

On that day I learned mental preparation is everything. I had heard it said in relation to physical challenges but didn’t relate to it until then. For our next trek to Everest Base Camp we will be prepared for the two hours to Tengboche. In fact we are changing the itinerary to start the trek from Khunde or Khumjung and not Namche. The other tip is don’t believe the estimated trekking time between the towns and definitely don’t believe the signage.