Saturday, August 22, 2009

Nepal Trek 2009 - May 19, Monju to Lukla

Sunrise over Monju. This was going to be a long day of walking, but the reward was promised to be a hotel room with a private, western-style toilet and a shower. Ha! More on that later in this post, but it was an auspicious start to our day to think about a hot shower at the end of our trekking adventure.

This was one of the prettiest waterfalls we saw on the trek. I just took a quick snapshot of it because I didn't have a tripod to actually set up a proper shot.

We were still seeing pine trees along the path, but as we headed to lower elevations, the vegetation was becoming more diverse with oaks and understory trees.

These door cloths are not only picturesque, but also really good at keeping drafts at bay and the dust from flying into the room.

Firewood is abundant at the lower elevations, in contrast to the yak dung stored as fuel up above the treeline. I much prefer the smell of wood burning rather than yak dung burning, but the warmth from either source is very welcomed by the weary trekker.

I don't remember what village this was.

We had a short rest break in the shade, though. It was pretty warm as I recall - especially walking in the morning sun.

Pemba Sherpa - I loved those mirrored sunglasses.

Tendi Sherpa - back to his ball cap; the pink princess knit hat safely stored in his pack.

That's a lot of weight to carry in the hot sun. The tump strap around this porter's head is there primarily for balancing the load according to our Sherpas.

Phakding - the site of our first campsite.

Laundry time again.

Juniper and incense bush, drying in the morning sun.

I'm sure I photographed this construction site on the first day of our trek. It didn't seem as if much progress had been made while we were gone, but, then, everything has to be done by hand.

I stopped to watch the carpenters working with their hand planes and adzes. It was eye candy for me, and I took the opportunity to get a sightings pic with my Woodcentral hat.

The craftsman with his tools. He was really skillful with them, too.

The forest at this altitude was a mix of deciduous and evergreen trees.

All along the trail were small farms and family gardens terraced into the hillsides.

Grain, drying in the sun.

The equivalent of a delivery truck in this part of Nepal - one of the yak/cow hybrids.

Porters with their heavy loads.

Aha! The source of those porter baskets.

Trekking in short sleeves. If I had brought shorts, I would have been tempted to wear them - it was a hot day compared to what we had been used to, although I think it really wasn't all that hot outside.

One of the last bridges to cross for the trek.

Another craftsman at work, carving one of the myriad prayer stones that dot the path.

Gravel is made by hand up here, too. Large stones are hammered inside a metal ring until they are broken down to the right size.

The lower we went in elevation, the more people there were living along the path.

I'm not sure what significance the colors have on these prayer stones, but they are beautiful to see.

Oxalis - not sure what species.

This looks like a very tasty plant in the cabbage family.

Another crow - there were so many different corvids to see on this trek.

Shoes, drying in the sun - is there a recurring them with "drying in the sun?"

Hmmmmm, surprise, surprise - another primrose.

Another rest break in the shade.

And another primrose - this one comes with a story. I was walking with Kancha Sherpa during the afternoon and I kept stopping to take pictures of plants along the way. This one really caught my attention and I immediately dropped to the ground to take the picture. A porter was coming up the path, watching all this, and he stopped to ask Kancha if I was drunk. I asked Kancha to tell him I was a crazy botanist, but Kancha didn't know the word for botanist.

"How do you say scientist?" I asked. Eventually we settled on the term, "crazy scientist," which is "bolo baigyanik" in Nepali.

On the outskirts of Lukla.

The gateway to Lukla. Steve was waiting for me here so that we could walk the last bit together.

Firewood, stored under the house along with space for livestock.

Back through the gauntlet of shops and shop keepers.

A street game of Carom was being played by some boys off in a little alcove next to a shop.

We arrived late in the afternoon, but there was still quite a bit of activity.

Click on the pic to check out that Starbucks logo - it's a fake one with a mountain instead of the usual logo.

Here's a cool juxtaposition - "The Irish Pub," complete with a prayer wheel to be spun as you enter the establishment.

School girls on their way home.

Look! A real room with walls and a door! I lost a few pounds on the trek, my hair is a greasy mess, my feet are very sore and I'm very tired, but I was really happy to be there - until I tried the shower, that is. What was supposed to have been a hot shower was actually an ice cold one. I made a lot of noise such as, "this is the worst shower I ever had the misfortune to take," or something to that effect. Steve wrote down what I was yelling as I was trying to get clean. It's probably not suitable for posting on a family-friendly blog such as this one.

The room did have a western style toilet, but the seat was held on with double-sided tape, which failed the first time the seat was used. It's a good thing we were already used to squat toilets!

We don't look too worse for wear, I think.

No stones to sleep on, either, plus room to reorganize all our gear. What a luxury!

After some time to clean up, we gathered in the tea room and started supper.

Our cook made us another cake, this one with Chris Marquardt's "Tips from the top floor" logo.

Jon recorded it all for "The Rest of Everest" podcast.

After dinner and dessert, it was time to give our Sherpa staff their pay and tips. I think you'll be able to tell from their expressions, that they were pretty happy about getting paid for a job well done.

The kitchen staff was paid first . . .

then it was Chirri's turn. I loved that smile!

Mingmar next.

The next staff members were our trail Sherpas. This is Kancha.

One of our two Pasangs.

The other Pasang, Kancha's younger brother.

Last one up was Karma - our sidhar.

We had the most amazing staff - thank you Mountain Tribes - you guys are the best!


BarbS said...

We all benefit from your photography, Andi..those shots of people toting lumber to the worksite are amazing. And the sunrise shot...fantastic. Thanks for sharing. -BarbS

Dawa Doma Sherpa said...

Hey !!! Andi Was trying to find my bro Andi Sherpa with whom I am not in contact in Face Book n my eyes felt on ur blog!!!

Its really awesome !!! I m from Darjeeling, India closer to where u went not so closer though !!! but still I have not been there...!!

But after seeing ur blog.. would really visit.. Thanks for a wondeful pictures n for sharing ur experience!!!