© 2012 notworkrelated - David Rutter & Helen Roscoe. All rights reserved. notworkrelated_nepal_machhermo_gokyo_05

Nepal – Phortse Tenga to Gokyo – 15th/17th March

  • Day 14: Phortse Tenga to Dole with a high point of 4084m

We had now been on the go for 14 days making our way to Gokyo, 14 days of trekking! This is the longest either of us had hiked with our backpacks from place to place, valley to valley, mountain to mountain. We were loving every minute (nearly). So this would be perhaps our easiest day of hiking in terms of distance and landscape. We did have a fairly steep up hill section out of Phortse Tenga which leveled out as we got closer to Dole. Most of the trekkers left at around 8-8.30am but we found that having a slightly later start meant we didn’t bump into so many groups meaning we often had the paths all to ourselves.

We arrived in Dole quite rely before midday and opted to stay at The Dole Resort on the other side of the village heading on the path outwards. We had the place to ourselves, the owners are friendly enough and so we opted for an afternoon of reading wrapped up in our thick blankets until they put the yak-dung fuelled fire on. The main reason why this went on as more trekkers were arriving with a guide and porters and we assume that they call ahead to say they’re on their way. The other thing we witnesses was a local trekker getting seconds on ra-ra noodle soup!! This never happens being a tourist trekker! By the evening though we were pretty snug in our dining room den. We were pretty lazy that day once we’d settled but the best advice is to do next to nothing when you arrive at your new altitude, so we were merely following the rules! It was snowing for most of the afternoon and evening and so we felt good to be next to a hot fire.

  • Day 15: Dole to Machhermo with a high point of 4465m

By now we were starting to have unsettled sleep, for some reason we felt like we were almost trying too hard to get air to breath in order to feel like we were getting off to sleep. It’s a weird feeling and the mind definitely plays tricks on you. Helen was getting headaches, but during the night they would subside, whilst Dave was still struggling with his blistered feet. Our bill in Dole for 2 breakfasts, lunches, dinners and tea came to 3130rs.

We really enjoyed the 3 hour hike to Machhermo, suddenly we were presented with new mountains and valleys to gaze at. We felt like ants in this massive mountainous environment. The mist and snow had cleared from the day before and although the winds were cold the skies were blue and the sun very strong. We also noticed that over the past 2 days we’d crossed the tree line, there were no longer trees just rock, some shrubbery and bits of grass. We drank plenty of water along the way and had a few snack breaks too.

Machhermo is a pleasant place with lodges dotted all around. We opted for Namgyal Lodge, quite a big lodge in comparison to the rest but we thought is there were more people staying there they’d get the fire going earlier. We did a little bit of clothes washing with a pot of water costing 50rs and sat in the sun soaked dining room. The rooms at the lodge are really nice and well insulated and they are built around a garden/patio area.

By this point a small pot of tea was costing 550rs and so thinking a little bit about our budget we opted for a pot of hot water at 350rs, as we carried some extra tea bags with us. At 3pm we went to an altitude lecture which we’d felt encouraged to go to when the volunteer doctors came around earlier on to let us know that it would be taking place at the rescue centre that afternoon. They are a porter charity offering food and lodgings to the many porters hired by individuals and trekking agencies. We were pretty shocked to learn that up until recently most porters would sleep in caves if there were no beds available in the lodges. Plus there were a few incidences of porter neglect at altitude and so this charity is there to support the scheme as well as offering medical and rescue care for trekkers in the region. We felt reassured that our altitude gain had been sensible and we all donated 100rs each to do an oxygen saturation test. Amata came out top with a whopping 96%, Joshua was next with 94% and Dave 91%, this is excellent for the current altitude, Helen’s sat more averagely at 86%. Based on the talk though both Helen and Joshua opted to take Dymox to help with the restless nights and mild altitude sickness.

After some fairly good dal bhat and potatoes with veg and cheese we were ready for bed. Dave felt he’d been discriminated against as there were no seconds on the dal bhat (this is usually a guaranteed bonus of having the local dish).

  • Day 16: Machhermo to Gokyo with a hight point of 4750m

We both slept restlessly once again but Helen’s headaches seemed to have gone and it didn’t feel as cold mainly because the rooms are well insulated at Namgyal Lodge. Again we left a little later than most which worked in our benefit as we trekked towards Gokyo. This would be our penultimate day of hiking before reaching the dizzy heights of Gokyo Ri.

We loved the walk to Gokyo, it was full of contrasts. We were welcomed with wide open plains, the wild river below, more 6-8000m peaks and the totally awesome presence of the Ngozumpa Glacier (36km/22miles the longest in the Himalayas) with Cho Oyu (8,200m / 27,000ft) dominating the upper valley. At the first lake which was the only lake not frozen we met thousands of rock cairn monuments built by the trekkers who have passed through the area. It felt a little like a spiritual graveyard representing each and everyone of us who have journeyed onwards to Gokyo. It did feel quite special.

We took the day slowly and marveled at the views whilst also joining Joshua and Amata for some celebratory snacks along the way; teriyaki beef jerky (enjoyed by all but Helen) and some ginger dark chocolate which they had lovingly carried with them since leaving America for their trip. We passed by the 2nd and 3rd lakes which were both totally frozen and snowed over and then we were in Gokyo, a place now occupied with tea houses and lodgings. There aren’t any locals living here other than to run their guesthouses.

We had been given a card for The Lakeside Lodge by a Japanese hiker whom we’d bumped into in Thame. So this is where we ended up. It’s pretty much the first lodging that we got to but we thought we’d go with it, plus the lady owner had lots of personality and said to us in a whisper that if we stay with her she’ll give us a room for free! How could we pass that offer? The food was good and for the first night we had the place all to ourselves. 4750m would be the highest we would be sleeping at. We were running out of money but decided we would spend 2 nights in Gokyo so that we could hit Gokyo Ri the next morning and then rest before making longer days to get back down to Namche and onwards to Lukla.

(Leica M9, Summicron-M 50mm f2.0, 18mm f4, 90mm Tele-Elmarit f2.8 processed in Lightroom 3)

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