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April 30th
Phakding-Namche
Distance: 7mi/11km* (mileages likely +10% underestimated)
Trip Total: ~233mi/375km
Guesthouse Elevation: 11,200ft/3414m

We are taking basically double neros in Namche instead of a zero day. We thought we might want a zero, but we have good momentum going, so a good 24hrs in Namche is all we need. In a couple weeks, we will get off trail when we get closest to Kathmandu, and that is when we will take zeros.

The hiking was just 7mi to Namche, but it took 4hrs, with a brief stop at a spot for breakfast. We have entered the Everest Region, and are overlapping the popular 3 Passes Trek and many others. There were almost constant services the whole way.

We got our regular 6am start, which was very interesting, because the first half of the morning felt like we were walking through ghost towns. Then came the mule trains and the porters. Towards the end of the morning, the crowds came out.

Here come the mules down the stairs!

We officially entered Sagarmatha National Park, and had permits checked at another checkpoint. It was slow going with most of it being uphill to Namche and ending at 11,200ft/3414m. It was a pretty cool view when we rounded the corner and the city was revealed.

Namche!

The first priority was food. We ate at the Everest Bakery. My hiker hunger has hit big time! I had a chicken sizzler, which was more like school lunch chicken. I came back later in the day and had a veggie pizza (yum) and a big brownie (more like cake). Tomorrow I’ll get the burger. The Everest Bakery was a good spot to eat, and was my go to.

After we ate, we picked a place to stay. We tried one spot that charged extra if you don’t eat there. Then we went to the Hotel Namche. It was great! Griggs and I chose rooms with their own showers and toilets and heated blankets. I was willing to splurge knowing we won’t have town days like this hardly at all on this trip. I accidentally got a deluxe room ($35) instead of a standard ($25). I didn’t realize until I paid. That explains why I got two beds and a great view. Buck-30 went with the best deal with a $3 room and shared bathroom/shower.

I ran errands. I now have my stove, which is a canister stove, and needed to buy a canister. Finding a small canister was near impossible, but Buck-30 spotted one at the North Face store when I went there to get pole tips. With all the rocky terrain out here, I totally should have brought extra pole tips. I lost one yesterday and luckily they had them at North Face as well. I also wanted to buy Cipro and Tinidazole in case I get hit again with stomach issues. That was easy to find at the pharmacy. I also got a razor and finally got to shave for the first time in a month. My first shower in 19 days! Considering my last one was a small sink hose, this real shower with unlimited hot water was decadent!

The big task of the day was finding a guide to take us over our highest pass of the trip, Tashi Labsta, 18,897ft/5760m. It is a pass that can be done independently, but it is dangerous on the back side descent, so having rope and an experienced guide is recommended. Since there was no way to know timing on a long thru-hike, arranging a guide in advance is nearly impossible. Also, it is the high season when most guides are gone on more enticing and more lucrative trips. We were told to just ask around Namche. Everything came to a dead end with no one available. We should have looked into this in Lukla the other day as that’s a bit more of a hub, but our bets from previous hikers led us to believe Namche would work.

Getting a guide along the GHT for Tashi Labsta is notoriously difficult. Even when one is hired, we’ve heard terrible stories. You never know who you’re getting. Since Namche was a dead end, I decided to give a bit of a hail mary, and randomly try calling some companies in Kathmandu. Completely randomly, the first company I called, Adventure Geo Treks, knew someone in Lukla who had just finished an Everest Base Camp hike willing to come on over and meet us in Thame when we get there in 4 days. I’ll find out more tomorrow, but it’s a start…

I was pretty tired and didn’t stay up too late. Loading the blog takes forever. It’s the photos that take so long, but I won’t post without them. Each one takes a good 30mins to load, and I can’t do anything else with my phone while it’s loading, so it’s annoying. The goal is to get enough up that one per day can be released over the next couple weeks until we get back to Kathmandu when I can load more. I know I like it in the end, but it’s a pain, especially when I just want a break on a tiring trail. The good news is that Ncell has great deals on cell service and data, so I don’t have to work off slow WiFi. That’s been super helpful.

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