Another post detailing my recent Everest Base Camp trek went live this morning over at Gadling. This time I write a bit about what it is like on the trail as you leave the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu behind, and start the hike from Lukla, beginning at 2860 meters (9380 feet).
As I note in the story, your first day on the trail is actually a fairly quiet, and easy one. In fact, you actually drop in altitude while hiking from Lukla to Pakding, the first stop for many on the way to Everest. It takes about 3 hours to reach Pakding which is located at 2652 meters (8700 feet). Himalayan mountain guides live by the old adage “climb high, sleep low”, which is why you don’t push it too much on your first day out, and the drop in altitude is especially helpful for the acclimatization process.
After that first day, you might start to think that the trek is an easy one, but that illusion is definitely shattered on Day 2, when you’ll face the mighty Namche Hill. Day 2 is a complete turn around from Day 1, as you’ll be more likely to be hiking 6 to 8 hours, depending on pacing, and you’ll actually gain about 800 meters (2600 feet) in height. The second day on the trail is one of the toughest of the entire trek, and will test the stamina of any trekker. Fortunately for me, I trained a lot before I went to Nepal, and while the dreaded Namche Hill was indeed a challenge, I managed to scamper up it with a smile on my face and plenty of energy still in my legs. Not everyone in my group felt the same however, and there was much suffering to be had on the slopes that led to Namche Bazaar.
Fortunately, once you reach Namche, you’ll be rewarded with a rest day. Gaining 2600+ feet in one day is not an easy task, and you’ll be more than happy to stay an extra day in the quaint village built along the side of a mountain. Of course, “rest day” is a relative term, as we still hiked up another 400 meters (1300 feet) on our day off, but we were back at the teahouse before lunch time, and that hike further aided in our efforts to acclimatize properly.
In my next story, I’ll talk about Namche a bit more. It is a unique place, and the largest village in the Khumbu. There are gear shops lining the streets, the views are spectacular, and there are trekkers from around the globe hanging out in all kinds of places. With any luck, I’ll have more video to share with that post as well.
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