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April 27th
Sanam-Najingdingma
Distance: 15mi/24km
Trip Total: ~203mi/327km
Guesthouse Elevation: 8,804ft/2683m

Today was much like the previous days, with nothing super eventful. It’s great that our bodies and minds are starting to settle into this kind of hiking. We get hiking by 6am every morning, to get a jump on the day. We’ve been finishing between 4-5:30pm most days, not pushing too hard, and taking multiple breaks of varying lengths throughout the day. It was a great start to the day that we got a gradual descent for the first two hours of the morning heading into the large village of Gudel. There were some massive snow covered mountains in the distance. In a week or so, we will be entering the Everest Region, which is pretty exciting. The gradual terrain of the trail made me feel like I was on the Pacific Crest Trail. I was the most relaxed I’ve been in three weeks! I even had the space in my mind to listen to a podcast for a bit! I had worried this whole hike would be grueling, but if I can get moments like this morning every so often, it’s a great boost!

Gudel is definitely the largest village we’ve gone through. It looked quite nice with more modern construction, nice yards, and clean clear paths through the village. It gave us hope that we might find more than the limited selection of food we’ve seen at the small shops thus far. In particular, finding chips of any kind and candy bars, is quite rare. I’m craving both as I’ve basically been eating Ramen and little cookies the last three days. We also hoped maybe they would have donuts or fried bread like we found just once days ago.

Village of Gudel

Well, unfortunately, if such a store existed, we didn’t walk by it. The first shop we came to was quite small and claimed to be the only shop. They had half-sized Snickers for I think 80 cents each. I got two hoping I’d find more later today or further into the village. Nope, we found no other shop with food, and were sorely disappointed. Steep stone steps drove us down to the river to finish our 5,000ft/1524m descent. Then our 6,000ft/1829m climb would start. We could see the next village of Bung ahead of us on the hillside, and the steep path cutting through that we’d be taking to climb up through the village.

About 9:30am, we took a break at the first shop we hit in Bung. Buck-30 got his first Coke of the trip, which was warm and unsatisfying for him. He’s a Diet Coke addict, which they don’t have here, but it’s impressive he waited this long for a soda. It was hot, so we made that break kinda our lunch break. I ate my cold soaked Ramen, which I’ve been having twice a day lately at breaks. Having a peanut butter type jar to cold soak has been great. The ramen does leave an oily film on the container, but I’ve learned trying to rinse it out is a fruitless effort. As we sat there, the nearby kids watched us, as did the older woman who owned the shop, and we got to watch women carrying large amounts of what looked like hay up the stone steps.

This whole day, on the climb up out of Bung, we were seeing sites common in villages that I’ve yet to capture. Like a boy laying in his yard with a pile of harvested corn and a chicken with chicks just pecking away at it.

Many women carrying babies sound asleep in large baskets slung over their backs and supported by their forehead. Notice how everyone wears sandals on the rocky terrain.

Lots of kids running up to us to say, “Namaste!” and also following us for short bits. Sometimes asking basic questions in English or just following and giggling.

In this village in particular, we saw many very young kids on their own carrying large baskets of things supported by a strap over their forehead.

As we climbed higher to Surke La Pass (10,072ft/3070m), the afternoon sprinkles came on and off, and temps got cooler. Towards the top, we entered a forested area that just seemed to have many paralleling paths and made things a bit annoying to follow.

Right near the end, we missed a turn, and yet again had our moment of the day where we had to backtrack likely wasting ~20mins and quite a bit of energy, but we got there. At the top, there was a random small shop. As I approached, Buck-30 told me they had the donuts we’ve been looking for for days, Snickers, and even chips that looked like Pringles. It was so random, I figured he was just messing with me. Nope, he was telling the truth, and it was being manned by a girl of ~8yrs and her ~3yr old brother.

Top of Surke La Pass (10,072ft/3070m) and the surprise shop manned by a young girl.

The donuts were 50 cents each, which was a bit pricey comparing to the past, but it made sense since they were way up high on the pass. Then I tried to ask much Snickers were, and she told me $5. No joke, I tried to bring her down and she wasn’t budging. We really don’t think she knew for sure, but no adult was around. I asked about the chips that looked like Pringles, and she said $9. Yeah, she was confused. I sadly just took my donut and didn’t get the Snickers or chips. We then had an over 1,000ft/305m descent, and then brief climb to our ending village of Najingdingma.

At the end of the village is the best guesthouse yet, the Namaste Lodge. It’s peaceful and quite scenic with mountains all around. The dining area is all windows, and quite spacious, which we’ve yet to see. They are open year round, and get regular traffic from people doing the Mera Peak trek. A great spot. Just 1.5 days to Lukla and then we will be in Namche the next day for our first real town time!

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