Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Nepal Trek 2009 - May 9, Namche Bazar to Tengboche

After two nights at Namche Bazar, it was time to move up to higher elevations. Breaking camp always involves a flurry of activities, mostly in reorganizing all the gear that gets scattered in and around the tent.

It's amazing how much stuff can get spread about in a small, enclosed space as things are taken out of the duffel bag for use, or as part of desperate searches for that one essential item that is needed right now (e.g., TP!).

Our photo assignment for the day was to use one focal length. That's a hard decision to make because there is so much to see and photograph.

Chris Marquardt was using a lens baby. I don't recall if he used that for the entire day, but he was using it around camp. I chose 24 mm for my Canon Rebel XTi. I used my Panasonic Lumix for my macro plant shots and for my Woodcentral sightings pics.

The scenery really started to become interesting on this day of the trek. We were still in the pine forest/rhododendron biome, but I could see where the alpine zone was on the slope of the mountains.

Most of the religious shrines along the path were Bhuddist, but this one was Hindu, I think.

As you look back toward Lukla, the slopes are bedecked in evergreen forest.

Looking up trail one sees Sagarmatha (Mount Everest) flanked by Nuptse (front left) and Lhotse (just to the right of Everest). Everest is that triangle shaped peak just to the left of center.

The largest stupa on the trail was situated at the most scenic overlook of the trip.

This view of Everest through the prayer flags was one of my favorite photos. You can also see the trail layout pretty well here.

A nice Woodcentral sighting.

Pretty awesome view, eh? The jagged mountain on the right is Ama Dablang.

Another nice Woodcentral photo op.

Sonam and Karma having a fun time. The rock is shaped like Everest.

Ama Dablang, center stage. You can also see how this trail is a major track through the Solukhumbu region.

Another of my favorite pictures. The trail is about 10 feet wide here. This section of trail was the best maintained of all. It's only about a 5 mile length. There's a donation collection station at each end of the section - well worth the rupees put into the can.

L to R: Kyle, Megan, Sonam

I really enjoyed the scenery along this track. If you'll note the ridge that is in the center of this picture - the top of that is the destination for the day.

If you click on the image, you might be able to barely see some of the buildings at Tengboche. You can also see the trail snaking up the slope. Each day we gained 1000-3000 ft of elevation, but what you don't know ahead of time is that you're going to be going down 1000 ft, and then back up 2000 ft, etc. Every time you cross the river you're doing a down, then up trajectory.

This was the first day of the trek where I really wanted to spend a lot of time botanizing. Walking through a rhododendron forest is magical and there were a lot of understory plants in bloom, too.

Rhododendrons of various shades of red, pink, magenta and white were in bloom. I'm afraid I dawdled a bit too long for our sherpas' comfort, but I needed to take as many pictures as possible for my own comfort.

I was totally blown away by the diversity of primrose species. I think I had mentioned in a previous post that there are about 48 species of primrose in the area. I've no idea how many I saw, but it's probably close to a dozen.

I don't know this plant, so if anyone out there can give me a hint, it would be very much appreciated. Just leave a comment - thanks!

(Note added later: this is a species of barberry)

Wild strawberry

Oh good, I've not yet lost my way from being so far behind the rest of the group.

(I'll note here that there are many variations on English spellings of place names. The maps say "Tengboche." Namche Bazar is also listed as Namche Bazaar.)

Actually, it would have been impossible to get lost. This is Pasang Sherpa - he's the one who hangs back with the slowest person of our group - that was me on this day (and several others).

I really enjoyed walking with Pasang, too. You can probably tell from his smile that he is a gentle soul and he seemed eager to learn about the plants and birds I was photographing.

Rhododendron forest

Rhododendron/pine forest. Wow - that's incredible scenery.

Yep, that's amazing scenery. I want to go back!

Tengboche monastery. I arrived at the village at dusk, about an hour before sunset.

It's a beautiful monastery. I have some pictures of the inside to post for my May 11th entry to the blog. I saw the young monks running up and down these stairs - not something I could do at this point.

I also heard some interesting music wafting from the windows of the monastery. The place was empty when we toured it, but I can imagine where the monks were sitting while playing their unusual musical instruments.

Here's the stupa in the fading light of sunset.

You can probably tell from the faces of my trekking friends, that we're tired. L to R: Thilo, Steve, and Chris.

We're starting to feel the elevation at this point. I think we're somewhere around 12,500-13,000 feet here, but I'll have to look that up. All I know is that the outhouse was up this small slope, and it seemed like a chore.

We didn't have a tea house for our meals at Tengboche, so our staff set up a dining tent. It was COLD!!!!! Time for down jackets and lots of layers.

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