Mount Everest Trek 2005

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Below is my story of the 3 week trek I took to Mount Everest Base Camp.

This Trek took us from the small town of Lukla in Nepal, through the beautiful Khumbu Valley, to the tiny settlement of Gorak Shepp. From there we climbed Kala Pattar, with spectacular views of Mount Everest and Nuptse. The highlight of the trip was the hike from Gorak Shepp to Everest Base Camp, hiking across the Khumbu Glacier to the Base of the Khumbu Icefall. On the return trip, we spent a day in Tengboche, where we enjoyed the Mani Rimdu Festival, a traditional Buddhist Festival with Mask Dances. I did this trip through a small tour operator, ASA Adventure Travel, located in Brewer, Maine. There were two other trekkers on this trip: Dick Merrill, who had done a similar trek 2 years earlier, and Bryant Fong, who had never been above 10,000 feet before. Once we arrived in Nepal, we were joined by two local Guides, Jhak and Shem, and two Porters, Mingur Sherpa and Jambu Sherpa, who took care of our duffel bags. During the trek we stayed in Tea Houses, with simple but sufficient bedrooms. All meals during the Trek were provided for by the Tour Operator. During the day, we carried our small backpacks which contained fluids, a change of clothes, and some snacks. The whole trip was perfectly organized, which made for an extremely relaxing, and enjoyable experience, with some tough days at high altitude. Finally, I want to thank my wonderful wife, Teresa, for encouraging me to do this Trek. Without her ongoing support for my interest in the Mountains and many hours of hiking at high altitude, this adventure would not have been possible.

November 2, 2005

It's Wednesday night. The duffel bag and my back pack are fully loaded. After 2 months of searching for, and buying gear, I am finally on my way! Teresa, drove me to the Los Angeles airport, where we had dinner at the Encounter, a funky Jetson-esque restaurant. After dinner, we went to the International terminal to check in, which took quite some time, due to the added security measures. After saying goodbye to Teresa, I went to the gate. Just as we were about to board the plane, it was announced that there was a slight problem, and we would be delayed for about an hour. The hour became two, than 3, and 4. Finally, at 3AM we were able to take off, and I realized immediately that there would be problems with my connecting flight in Hong Kong. The ladies at the gate could not give me any details however, and told me to get updated information, once I arrived in Hong Kong.

When I got off the plane, I was advised to go the Thai Airways, which would take care of my next flight to Bangkok, Thailand. The attendant there told me there were no more flights to Bangkok that day, and scheduled me for the first flight out the following day. So I was stuck here, together with 2 other passengers, Kellie and Joe, who were also going to Nepal. We all received hotel vouchers, and after checking in and having some lunch, Kellie and I decided to take a trip into downtown Hong Kong, where we took a bus ride to Victoria Peak, from where you have a great view of the City. Afterwards, we walked through the colorful streets, and had coffee in a cyber cafe. Early in the evening we returned to our hotel to enjoy a free meal paid by the Airline.

November 5, 2005

At 5:00AM I was wide awake, and a nervous Nelly, thinking that there might not be enough seats available on today's flight to Kathmandu. I took a shower, packed my backpack, and called Kellie to let her know I was going to the airport to check in. I got to the check-in counter at 5:45, and of course there was no one there! Frustrated, I paced around until finally, at 6:15AM a lady from the airline came to my rescue. After handing her my ticket, she told me she knew all about the 3 of us, and told me to wait for Kellie and Joe to arrive, so she could take care off us all at once. Fortunately they showed up almost immediately, and we received our boarding passes without a hitch. Great relief!

The flight to Bangkok was uneventful, and after a short layover there, we took off for Kathmandu in a completely packed plane. After arrival at the Kathmandu airport, and going through customs, I picked up my duffel bag, and went outside where I was greeted by the local tour operator, Ganga Budhathoki. I also met Dick Merrill and Bryant Fong, my two Trekking partners here. The drive to down town Kathmandu and our hotel, was exhilerating, with cars, motorcycles, mopeds, and pedestrians all using the roads with no regard for any rules. It was quite a culture shock to see a city with so many decrepit buildings, and people basically living on the streets. The entrance to our hotel in the middle of the city was guarded by military police, carrying some heavy duty machine guns. After checking in, and having our briefing on the itinerary for the next day, I decided I wanted to visit a few of the Temples in Kathmandu. Ganga arranged for transportation and a guide for me, and I was on my way.

The first Temple the Guide showed me was a Hindu Temple, Pashupatinath, on the eastern outskirts of the city. This Temple is dedicated to Shiva - the Destroyer and Creator. Cremations take place here on the banks of the river, almost daily. The deceased is positioned such that his or her feet are in the water. The male family members than take some water from the river and poor it in the mouth of the deceased. Once this ceremony is completed, the deceased is put on top of a pile of wood and cremated. Many Hindus spend their last days inside the Temple, rather than at home. After seeing this kind of "morbid tourist attraction", we walked the grounds around the Temple. Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the Temple.

On to our second temple, Swayambhunath, also known as the Monkey Temple, for obvious reasons. This Temple with the all-seeing eyes of Buddha sits on a large hill, which overlooks the Kathmandu valley. To get to the Temple, you must climb 365 steep steps to the top of the hill. The complex consists of several shrines, a small museum, and a Gompa (Buddhist temple). After spending some time roaming around the complex, and watching the monkies, we returned back to the hotel.

At the hotel, I caught up with Dick and Bryant, and we met again with Ganga who introduced us to his brother Jhak, who would be our main guide on the Trek. After discussing the logistics of the upcoming Trek, the three of us had a nice dinner buffet in the hotel restaurant, and went to bed early.

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November 6, 2005

Today is the BIG day to start our Trek. I got up at 4:00AM to get my gear ready, and take a long last shower which would have to last for the next 2 weeks. At 5:00AM we got a quick breakfast and then piled into the waiting van to drive to the airport. Jhak introduced us to Shem, the assistant Guide for the Trek. After getting our boarding passes, we got on the plane, which was a small prop plane with a center isle and one seat on either side. The plane held about 20 people, and had a real stewardess on board, who passed out cotton wads to put in our ears for the noise of the engines. I was fortunate to have a seat on the left side of the plane, so that I got a fabulous view of the mountains. The flight was only about 30 minutes, with a spectacular landing into Lukla at 9,350 ft, on a landing strip that was built at a steep angle, ending in a tall mountain! After getting off the plane, we immediately noticed the big drop in temperature, and we got pretty cold while waiting around for Jhak to hire our 2 porters, Mingur Sherpa and Jambu Sherpa, to carry our duffel bags during the Trek. Since we had 2 porters and 3 bags, Mingur Sherpa would strap 2 bags together and carry both bags on his back every day!

Then we were off for a 3 hour downhill hike to our first Lodge in Phakding, at 8,660 ft. We passed numerous small settlements on our way, and enjoyed the incredible beauty of the Khumbu Valley. Soon we were at our Lodge in Phakding, where we had lunch, consisting of fried potatoes with some carrots, Chinese cabbage and bread. Around 3:00PM we went for our first of many short acclimatization hikes, under the theory of "climb high, sleep low", to a small Buddhist Monastery above the village. The hike was VERY steep, and took about an hour. Back at the Lodge, we enjoyed a dinner of noodles and rice with fried eggs and soup. At around 8:00PM we went to our rooms to turn in for the night.

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November 7, 2005

6:30AM Rise and shine! Today is our first full day hike to Namche Bazaar, at 11,320 ft. After a breakfast of porridge and toast, we were on our way. We hiked through many small settlements along the beautiful Dudh Koshi River. There were lots of other trekkers and porters going up and down the trail. We crossed the river several times on small steel suspension bridges that were built by the Swiss. Around 10:30AM we stopped for an early lunch in Jorsale, where we had fried potatoes with some vegetables and bread. We relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful weather and scenery until 12:00PM, when we continued our hike to Namche.

Our next stop was the entry gate into Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park, where they registered us and verified our passports. After going through the gate, the trail dropped steeply into the valley, back down to the river. After a short while, we climbed up to the famous high bridge, which "hangs" 400 feet above the river. Once we crossed this bridge, we were in for an incredibly steep climb to Namche. About halfway up this climb, we had our first view of Mount Everest in the distance. Climbing further up the trail, we encountered a Military checkpoint, where our guides' backpacks were checked, and our arrival was noted into their registers. Right after this, we entered Namche Bazaar, an interesting village built into the steep mountain slopes. The village has numerous little shops that sell all kinds of mountaineering supplies, and all the clothing you might ever need, at very low prices.

After settling into our lodge for the night, we again went for an acclimatization hike above the village to get another view of Mt. Everest, which was unfortunately shrouded in the clouds this time. Back at the Lodge, we had pizza and pasta for dinner, with canned fruit for dessert. After dinner, we chatted with a guy who had just attempted to climb Mt. Ama Dablam, but abandoned it after being without a sleeping bag at camp 3, and having frostbitten feet, which looked quite bad!

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November 8, 2005

Rest day in Namche Bazaar... OK, not really. Got up around 6:30AM (which would become the norm during the Trek), and found out that Dick was not doing too well: bad case of diarrhea. After packing our bags we had breakfast of egg noodle soup and pancakes. Even though we were staying in Namche for two nights, we could not stay in the same Lodge, so our bags would be moved to another Lodge. Around 8:00AM we set out for an incredibly steep climb to Syangboche Panorama Hotel, from where we had spectacular views of Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Nutpse, and Ama Dablam (see lower right picture on next page). After taking a group picture, everyone except Dick went on to Hotel Everest View, for more great views of the mountains. After taking it all in we returned to Syangboche, where we picked up Dick, and hiked back down to Namche via a different, but equally steep trail. Back in Namche, we had lunch in the new Lodge for the night: more fried potatoes, vegetables, canned tuna, and a deep fried apple pie. After lunch, we visited a cyber cafe to fire off some emails to family and friends at a cost of $7.50 for 30 minutes, and roamed around the town's many shops.

In contrast to last night's Lodge, we were the only guests in this Lodge, and they kept the main dining room quite cold. For dinner, I tried the traditional Dahl Batt (rice with lentil soup), with carrots and cauliflower. For dessert we had canned pineapple. After dinner, we quickly retired to our rooms and crawled into our warm sleeping bags.

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November 9, 2005

Namche Bazaar to Tengboche, at 12,665 feet.

Dick was feeling a little better this morning! Breakfast was my now usual diarrhea safe porridge and noodle soup. After getting our bags ready for the porters, we attacked the steep climb out of Namche. Once we reached the ridge above Namche, the trail became pleasantly flat and we were able to enjoy the great views of the surrounding mountains and the valley we came from a few days ago. On the way, Shem pointed out some mountain goats, but they were too far away to get a good picture. We also ran into several "Yak trains", which create a lot of dust, and force you to get off the trail so you do not get trampled by them! After about an hour we ran into a Sherpa, who requested donations for the upkeep of the trail. We all chipped in for this good cause!

Hiking further, we could see the Dudh Koshi river way down below, and found out that we would have to hike down all the way to cross the river, only to climb back up to Tengboche. This is what makes this day a hard day. The overall elevation gain is not dramatic (1,400 feet, but with the descent to Phunki Tenga and the subsequent steep ascent to Tengboche, it becomes a tough day. We had lunch in Phunki Tenga, where I enjoyed a vegetable omelet, which tasted great! Around 1:00PM we started the tough climb to Tengboche, and just before 3:00PM we arrived at our Lodge. After getting our rooms, I visited the Buddhist Monastery here, which is the largest Monastery in Nepal. Inside, the Monks were having their daily chanting session.

Late in the afternoon, we took our daily short acclimatization hike to a large Stupa, and watched the sunset over Mount Everest.

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November 10, 2005

We woke up around 6:00AM this morning, with help from the Monks blasting their large horns and drums from the Monastery. Dick was still not feeling all that great. After the standard porridge and pancakes, we took off for Dingboche. It was pretty cold this morning, with frost on the ground. Fortunately, the sun warmed everything up quickly, so the hats, gloves, and jackets could go back in the backpacks again. The first part of the trail was downhill, through a rhodondendron forest, which is supposedly spectacular in the summer when they are in bloom. After we crossed the river, the trail went gradually upwards, going above the tree line. Lunch was in a small settlement, called Shomare, where I enjoyed some tomato soup with an omelet and Tibetan bread. Here, we ran into a German guy, who had a broken ankle and was being carried up the mountain by two Sherpa's. This is definitely not a good place to have problems like this, with no immediately help available for days!

After lunch, we continued our Trek, slowly gaining altitude until we reached Dingboche. Once we got our rooms, we did a short uphill hike to another Stupa, with great views of the surrounding mountains. For Dinner, Jhak insisted I ate some garlic soup, which supposedly helps with the altitude. The soup was loaded with real garlic chunks; quite a delightful meal!

November 11, 2005

Another "Rest Day". Dick and Bryant decided to take it easy today, and just hangout at the Lodge. Since I did not come to Nepal to sit around, I asked Jhak to join me on a climb of Mount Chhukhung Ri, with a summit of 18,210 feet.

Jhak, Mingur Sherpa and I left at 7:00AM at a pretty fast pace that was a bit too much for me, and I told Jhak to slow it down somewhat. We went through a tough rock moraine, which was quite difficult. Jhak explained that Dick experienced this kind of terrain for several hours when he crossed the Cho-La Pass two years ago. We reached the settlement of Chhukhung just before 9:00AM, and after a short break we started the real climb up the mountain. The climb was incredibly steep, and I had to take many stops on the way to catch my breath. The high altitude was definitely taking its toll! At 10:00AM I reached 16,000 feet, and at 11:00AM I reached 17,000 feet. From there, I could see the saddle where we were headed, which we reached just before 12:00PM. At the saddle, Jhak built a pile of stones, signifying that I had been here. The last part to the top of the "hill" was a scramble, pushing myself onward at a very slow pace along some exposed areas. Around 12:30PM I finally reached the top! The view from the peak was stupendous, with a 360 degree view of all the mountains: Nuptse, Ama Dablam, Island Peak, etc. Looking down, I could see several large glaciers: Nuptse Glacier, Lhotse Glacier, and Ama Dablam Glacier.

After enjoying the scenery for a while, it was time to head back down. We practically ran down the hill all the way to Chhukhung, in 45 minutes! After a quick lunch there, we hiked back to Dingboche, which we reached at 3:30PM, and told Dick and Bryant about my incredible adventure of the day.

At the Lodge was a family with 2 small boys. The 8-year old boy had just climbed Island Peak (20,252 ft) with his father and he wants to climb Mt. Everest when he is 12!!

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November 12, 2005

Dingboche to Lobuche, at 16,210 feet. Today we are back on track, climbing to our next destination: Lobuche. As usual, we got up early and had breakfast at 7:00AM. Dick is still not feeling well; his diarrhea is taking a toll on him. He finally decided to start taking Cipro, which should make a huge difference soon. The morning hike was a beautiful hike across a large alpine meadow with a slow ascent to Thukla, where we had lunch. Next to the alpine hut was a huge pile of Yak dung, which is used for heating. The food here was pretty bad, with bugs and dirt in it, so we quickly moved on, munching on power bars instead!

Immediately after Thukla is a very steep hill, which for some reason is notorious for causing early signs Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), and almost immediately Bryant and I got some serious headaches. We at once slowed down, hoping that would take care of it, but the headaches stayed with us. At the crest of the hill are a number of Memorials for Climbers and Sherpa's who died while climbing Everest. From here we climbed slowly in the ablation valley, crossing several frozen streams, to Lobuche.

At the Lodge, Jhak immediately gave us some garlic soup for the headache, and with the Ibuprofen I had taken, my headache got a little better. After the soup, we took a short acclimatization hike up the hill behind the Lodge. Once we got back down, we stayed in the very crowded dining room, tired and with a lingering headache. I also started to cough a lot, especially at night. This is called the "Khumbu Cough", caused by breathing in cold air, which creates fluid in the lungs. Between the headache and the cough, I did not sleep much that night! A further side effect was that I had to pee a number of times during the night. Not very pleasant in a cold and dark Lodge.

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November 13, 2005

Lobuche to Gorak Shepp, at 16,962 ft., and climb of Kala Pattar, at 18,195 ft. This is the first of two days of highlights of the Trek! After a rough night of hardly any sleep, we packed up and had an early breakfast at 6:30AM. We left the Lodge around 7:00AM into the cold: about 20 degrees. The first part of the trail was a gradual ascent through rocky terrain until we got close to Gorak Shepp, where we had to cross a Glacier with several steep ups-and downs. After a final steep descent we reached Gorak Shepp, a small settlement in the middle of nowhere. Here we had a rare sight (according to Jhak) of Snow Cocks, looking for food. We were all pretty tired by the time we entered our lodge and crashed into our rooms. After a short while Shem advised us that lunch was ready, so we went down and had our usual grub.

Even though we were pretty exhausted from the altitude and the daily grind of the last few days, we still had to push ourselves to take on the climb of Kala Pattar in the afternoon. After putting on our backpacks, we started slowly up the trail. After about an hour, Dick told me he did not think he was going all the way, but I told him he was doing fine, and if we went slowly, he would make it. Onwards we went, stopping every 50 feet or so, and finally we reached the saddle where we took a break before attacking the last stretch to the top. This last part was a tough and steep scramble, climbing over large boulders. At the top, we celebrated, enjoying the fabulous views of Mt. Everest and surrounding mountains and glaciers. After a while, it was time to go back down to our lodge, where I was too exhausted to have dinner.

My headache had also returned with a vengeance and around 7:30PM I crawled into my sleeping bag for another rough night of no sleep and numerous pee breaks.

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November 14, 2005

Gorak Shepp to Everest Base Camp, at 17,600 ft, and return to Lobuche.

After another night of NO sleep, we got up early again to get ready for our hike to Everest Base Camp. The hike to Base Camp is quite difficult, with lots of steep ups and downs over very rocky terrain. Most of the hike actually goes into and across the Khumbu Glacier, which is spectacular, but exhausting at 17,000+ feet. The hike to Base Camp took about 3-1/2 hours. Once we got there, the only evidence of humans having been here before, were two crashed helicopters. One crashed in 2003, and the other in 2005. No one died in either crash, which is quite amazing. We spent some time enjoying the views of the Khumbu Ice Fall, and surrounding mountains. The huge boulders sitting on large patches of ice were an amazing sight. At 12:15PM we started our return trip to Gorak Shepp, which was just as difficult as the way in. After about 15 minutes we heard a loud thunder, and looking back we saw an avalanche crashing into the Khumbu Ice Fall. It was good we had left when we did! By the time we returned to the Lodge in Gorak Shepp, we were all pretty exhausted. Both Bryant and I were still suffering from our headaches. We forced ourselves to eat some soup, knowing we still had another couple of hours ahead of us, getting to Lobuche.

After lunch, we set out for the hardest part of the afternoon hike: crossing the Changri Shar Glacier with several strenuous hills. Taking our time, we managed to pass this hurdle, and from there it was a gradual descent into Lobuche, where we arrived in the dark around 6:00PM. Now that we were at a lower elevation, my headache was pretty much gone! What did remain was the consistant Khumbu Cough I picked up several days ago. My appetite was also back, and I had a great dinner with chocolate pudding for dessert.

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November 15, 2005

Lobuche to Pheriche, at 14,040 ft.

Finally we got a break, not having to get up early today, since the hike to Pheriche would only take about 3 hours.

Last night was again not great. I got hot and cold spells, and the now infamous cough was driving me crazy. After breakfast, we took off slowly, going through the ablation valley towards the Memorial site for Sherpas and Climbers of Everest. The constant ups and downs of the trail caused my headache to return, and I started to get a fever as well.

We stopped at the Memorial site to search for Scott Fisher's Memorial (He died in the 1996 Everest catastrophe). After taking some pictures of the Memorial, we dropped down the steep hill towards Thukla. My headache and fever got worse, and by the time we got close to Pheriche I took some Ibuprofen to stop the fever. Once we got to our Lodge and had some lunch, I started to feel better again. After lunch we took a short nap, and around 3:00PM we took a stroll through the village, and visited the Medical Clinic here. It is a very small clinic that basically takes care of all the locals, in addition to handling altitude sickness cases.

Back at the lodge, we had some hot chocolate, and dinner. Right after dinner, we were surprised by a local school group who performed some songs and asked for donations for their school. My headache and fever have finally disappeared, so it looks like I'll get a decent night sleep!

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November 16, 2005

Pheriche to Tengboche.

After a good night sleep, we were ready to hike further down the valley to Tengboche. Before we left Pheriche, we stopped by the clinic to ask if they had anything for the cracked lower lips both Bryant and I suffered. They had nothing for us however, other than the advice to use Chap Stick, and thus we went on our way down the valley. The trail became dustier again, now that we were at a lower altitude, with more Yak traffic.

We took an early lunch in Pangboche. Now that the highlights of the trip were behind us, we became more adventurous with our food. Here, we tried steamed Momo's, kind of like Chinese dumplings, and cinnamon rolls, which is basically fried dough with cinnamon inside. Both tasted great! Before we left for our afternoon hike, both Dick and Bryant bought some precious stones from a Tibetan merchant who passed by our lunch stop.

After lunch we dropped further down the Khumbu valley, and at one point Jhak pointed out several mountain goats closeby. The last stretch to Tengboche is the steep climb through the rhodondendron forest, which was not a major challenge anymore now that we are so well acclimated. Once we settled into our Lodge, we went to the German bakery here for some coffee and delicious pastries. Around 5:00PM we returned to the lodge, which was packed with trekkers, and very little room to sit and eat dinner.

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November 17, 2005


This day we stayed in Tengboche to watch the Mani Rimdu Festival. At 3:00AM we were awakened by the sound of the large horns the Monks would blast on for about an hour, after which we could get some more sleep. After breakfast we went to the Monastery, where the festivities took place, and watched all the local farmers and their children join in. Today's festivities involved the various Dances of the Masks. There are a total of 16 different Dances being performed. The costumes of the dancers were very colorful, this in contrast with the general bland colors the locals wear every day. The leaders of the Monastery were seated on the second floor of the courtyard, overseeing the dances and participating in the chanting that was part of each dance. Interesting note: The leaders were served Coke, and Sprite, rather than their traditional Tea!

Around 11:30AM there was a break in the festivities, and we took this opportunity to get some lunch. After about an hour, we went back to the Monastery, which by then was extremely crowded. We watched several more of the dances for a while, but by 3:00PM we decided that we had seen enough, and instead went to the "Eco Center", next to the Monastery, which had some exhibits and souvenirs for sale. I bought some gift items here for the ladies at work as well as for home. Once we spent enough money here, we went back to the Bakery for some more coffee and pastries.

After dinner, we returned to the Monastery, where the locals enjoyed their folk dances, which after a while looked all the same, so we called it a day, and went back to the lodge, and our sleeping bags.

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November 18, 2005

Tengboche to Monju, at 9,235 ft.

The long way down to Monju, just outside Sagarmatha National Park. We started around 7:30AM with a steep downhill to the Dudh Koshi River. There were some patches of ice on the trail this early in the morning, but they posed no real problem. Once we crossed the river, the trail went steeply back up to a ridge, but with 2 weeks of hiking in our legs, we were much stronger now, and even surprised our Guides by how well we climbed this hill!

From the ridge, it was a gradual downhill all the way to Namche Bazaar, which we reached around 11:30AM. We had lunch at the same Lodge we stayed in on our way up. We also returned to the cyber cafe, where we could finally send some emails again. After some quick souvenir shopping, we continued down the steep slope from Namche to the river and crossed the high bridge over the river. Just after the bridge, we noticed a group of Sherpa's who had just slaughtered two goats they were planning to have for dinner.

Around 4:00PM we went through the National Park gate and walked into Monju. Going through the Gate, I realized the Trek was quickly coming to an end! We stayed in a lodge that had just added a new section of rooms, and that had a real working western style toilet!

November 19, 2005

Monju to Lukla. Our last day of Trekking!

We left the Lodge around 8:30AM and followed the trail further downwards for a while, some of which was pretty steep! Once we reached Phakding (our first rest stop on the Trek 2 weeks ago), the final part of the trail was all uphill to Lukla. After a particular steep section, we reached the small village of Chheplung where we had our last lunch on the Trek. Watching the trekkers going up the mountain was fun, knowing how hard it would be for them at times, and at the same time sad, for it was all over for us! After lunch, it was a quick hour into Lukla, and the end of the Trek.

At the Lodge in Lukla we settled with our two Porters, saying our goodbyes with some gifts and tips for a job well done. They both seemed satisfied with their payment, so that was good.

After settling into our rooms, we went into Lukla to look around, but there was not much going on in this small town. We quickly returned to our Lodge, and after dinner turned in for the night.

November 20, 2005

Lukla to Kathmandu.

We took the first flight out of Lukla, to Kathmandu. I was the first person going into the plane, so I got the seat right behind the co-pilot. The take-off looked thrilling, with the runway being on a downhill angle. The plane lifted off smoothly however, and we were on our way. Seeing the mountains for the last time was sad, but at least I had the memories! With the plane loosing altitude, my ears started to hurt big time, because they had been stopped up for the last couple of days. This did not go away until we landed in Kathmandu.

Back in Kathmandu, our tour organizer picked us up with the van, and drove us to our hotel. At the hotel it was time to settle with our two guides, Jhak and Shem, who had done a great job getting us up and back down the mountains safely. After saying our goodbyes, I went to my room to take a long shower and shave. Boy, did that feel good after two weeks!! You won't believe the amount of dirt going down the drain, which promptly stopped up of course...

Once we had cleaned ourselves up and relaxed for a while, we decided to explore the city a little and do some shopping. The hotel was close to the Thamel district, where pretty much anything you want is for sale. After a couple of hours, we had enough of shopping for the day and went for some ice cream at a Baskins and Robbins.

Back at the hotel, we had dinner at their restaurant, which served some great steaks and desserts, with a total meal price of about 7 dollars! Stuffed and satisfied we returned to our rooms where I promptly fell asleep.

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November 21, 2005

Thamel District.

I woke up refreshed, and after a shower, I got together with Dick and Bryant, for a relaxing breakfast at the hotel restaurant. We decided that we would spent the whole day in the Thamel district, getting all the shopping out of the way.

After a couple of hours of shopping we took a break and visited Ganga, our local tour operator, at his office, where Dick dropped off a jacket for one of the guides he had been with on his previous trip to Nepal. After some tea and chitchat, we made sure that we would be picked up the following morning for our departure to the airport, and were off for some more shopping. When we were back on the main drag, I walked into one of the shops for about a minute, and when I got back out, both Dick and Bryant were gone! I looked all over the place, and walked through several of the same streets we had been on before, but they were nowhere to be seen. After about an hour I gave up and decided to go back to the hotel. Just when I headed back, I ran into Dick, who was waiting outside one of the stores for Bryant.

I still needed to find something for Teresa, so we went on with our shopping quest until all of us had found what we wanted.

Back at the hotel, we returned to the same restaurant of the night before, for another great meal.

November 22, 2005 Departure!

Around 8:00AM I got up to get ready for the long trip back home. Bryant knocked on the door, to tell me he was going back to Thamel to buy 2 more gifts he needed!! Apparently he was still not done shopping... After packing our bags, Dick and I went downstairs for breakfast, where after a while Bryant came to join us.

At 11:00AM we were picked up by our driver, who took us to the airport. After saying our goodbyes, we paid our airport tax, and got our boarding passes. Getting through customs took a while, especially since everyone's bags were inspected and most people were strip searched. The plane departed about an hour late, which meant we would miss our connecting flight in Bangkok. However, when we arrived in Bangkok, we were immediately rushed through the airport to get to the plane for Hong Kong, which had been waiting for us.

We landed in Hong Kong around 10:30 PM, and after getting our boarding passes for the flights to the U.S., we looked for a quiet place to rest and wait for our flights the next day. My lay-over was 15 hours! The next morning I found a Starbucks, and bought an expensive cup of coffee. Dick and Bryant's plane was scheduled to leave 3 hours before my flight, so after getting some breakfast, we went to their gate, where I said goodbye to them. I wandered around the shops for a while, buying a few things with my left-over Hong Kong dollars, and went to my gate around noon. The flight left on time, and the next morning I arrived in Los Angeles, where Teresa was waiting for me.