We are trying to get peace or happiness from outside, from money or power. But real peace, tranquility, should come from within.
Day 10 – Starting Our Descent
The day started a little before our 7am wake up call, as we lay in our sleeping bags surprisingly comfortable and warm. We’re not sure why we’re so comfortable, maybe it’s because we’ve made it to Everest Base Camp and it’s all (literally) downhill from here. It’s certainly not the actual conditions, since we estimate that its probably -15F/-26C outside right now. The sun is out, we have blue skies, and we’re in our 10th day in the Everest region of Nepal so life couldn’t be better. This is going to be our first day of three to get back to Lukla. Today’s plan is to go from Gorakshep all the way down to Pangboche. We spent 8 days climbing up to EBC and now we’ll cover a lot more distance each day that we did on the way up. This is possible because we’re heading down and how acclimatized & strong we are now.
The porters make their rounds in the hall past the trekkers’ rooms with a melodic “good morning”. Then, in response, you hear the classic Himalayan morning sounds of dry tight coughs from various rooms and even one person starting to retch. Good morning.
We had a room at the end of the hall with the bathroom right next to us. This was nice and convenient, but also meant that everyone was going past our room in the middle of the night — trade-offs. What was fun about this bathroom was the frozen puddles (liquids of various origins) that you had to navigate so you didn’t go sliding down the squatty hole!
We finished breakfast, said goodbye to Gorakshep, and headed down towards Lobuche. Even though we’re descending, there’s still the typical Nepali ups and downs and it takes a good amount of effort to get through the same hills we climbed yesterday to get here. Lobuche comes and goes and we press on to one of our favorite parts. Next to the glacial river, we climb the beautiful path to the monuments plateau. After the monuments, we dropped back down to have lunch at the same bakery we visited on the way up for some satisfying bowls of hot noodle soup.
We continue and cross an ice-bound river that has pools of water peeking out in spots. Then we head down on a steep slope for some distance until we reach a high plateau that delivers one of the best walks of our lives. The air is satisfyingly cold, the sky is blue, and the sun fights with the blowing wind to provide any kind of warmth to the landscape. We walk enveloped in a spectacle of towering mountains as we worked our way towards Pheriche.
We finally reach walk through the town of Pheriche as the day wears long and clouds start dropping towards us and obscuring the sun. We cross the river once again but via a bridge this time as it’s now much larger, powerful and has developed rapids. We immediately work up a steep hill climb that will last for some time, until we drop down to Pangboche on the other side.
We wonder if the teahouse that we’re staying in tonight will be the same place that we stopped for a tea break on the way up days ago. We’re thinking about this because we’re not thrilled about the prospect since it looked questionable. What stuck in our minds was that it had a dodgy bathroom, where you could see right through the floor in spots and there was a thought of crashing through while using the bathroom! We ask our guide if that’s the place we’re staying and he confirms that’s the case. We nicely protest and after some discussion and scouting for another teahouse, we determine that the best thing to do is head further down to the next town of Deboche. This will take another hour and we’ll be getting close to running out of daylight.
We wait for our porters to catch up and give them the change of plans. This descent day has already been a long one, we’ve just extended it further, and they seem a bit so-so about the decision. We leave Pangboche and descend steeply below to the river crossing. We’re now climbing our way up now in the almost dark to our new teahouse destination in Deboche, which is a tiny hamlet just shy of Tengboche. We finally arrive at a distinctive teahouse and we’re pleased that we decided to come here.
We also hear that they have heated blankets so we pay extra for that luxury! However, it turns out that the blankets take an extraordinary amount of time to heat up and we start doubting that they’re even working. We go to the dining room to have dinner and check the blankets later to find that Julie’s blanket is only about 1/3 functional near the top while mine is almost entirely functional. That’s right, we will be switching beds for the evening. That night, we have a restful undisturbed night’s sleep due to the long satisfying day of hiking through the landscape. What also help is that we’re well acclimatized and we’ve stopped taking Diamox so there are no bathroom visits during the night.