This day was going to be marked by calm and tranquility, the trail back to Namche being mostly solitary, seldom meeting trekkers or porters. Much later we would find out that this good fortune was due to bad weather in Lukla closing access into Khumbu valley for a few days, prohibiting new trekkers from coming up the mountain, and leaving the trails all to ourselves 🙂
Pangboche village’s pathways surrounded by prayer flags
Making our way through Pangboche village’s narrow pathways, we soon heard the familiar sound of jupke (crossbreed between cows and yaks) bells, signaling we had re-entered on the main trail to Namche Bazaar. On an almost level path we reached the “Kani” gate that borders the entrance to the upper Khumbu Valley. Kongde Ri was shaping the horizon, offering picture-perfect views framed between the gate walls, or by the “Stupa” and “Mani” walls that followed ahead. From here onward we started to descend to the tumultuous white waters of Imja Khola, across the river and then climbing back up. Steadily ascending through Spanish moss-draped forests, offering shelter from the hot sun, we passed by “Mani” walls marking the vicinity of Deboche nunnery. Occasional jupke caravans would cross by, filling the air with their tranquil dangling bell sounds, which integrate so perfectly in the Himalayan landscape, adding to its spiritual charge.
“Mani” walls and “Chortens” lining the trail
View from a “Kani” gate
Climbing up countless stone steps we eventually stepped out of the forest into the clearing housing Tengboche village. In the past days having missed spinning “Mani” prayer wheels, we rejoiced upon seeing Tengboche “Gompa’s” elaborately ornate gate. After passing by each “Mani” wheel, spinning and mentally chanting the Buddhist Heart “Mantra”, we followed the trail leading past “Mani” stones, a white, beautiful “Chorten” and an arrow pointing to “Namche”, starting the long descent to Dudh Kosi river. While descending, with each breath the air smelled heavy with pine tree scent, adding to the almost tangible peacefulness of the area. At the foot of the hill we re-encountered the water propelled “Mani” wheels and the highest steel suspension bridge on the way to Everest base camp.
Tengboche “Gompa’s” gate
Across the bridge, the trail started climbing steeply past huge, colored “Mantras” carved on “Mani” stones, and proceeding on countless tall stone steps, until back at almost the same elevation we started descending from Tengboche village. Here we met the Himalayan “highway”, a wide, stone tiled, almost leveled trail snaking on mountain shoulders and leading all the way to Namche Bazaar. With the onset of evening, clouds were climbing up the mountain, veiling and unveiling the surroundings and merging into the thick layer forming above us. Wherever the trail would turn around a mountain into a new valley, a tall “Chorten” would stand guard resembling a shutdown lighthouse. Between dancing thin fog clouds we run into the old man collecting donations for the road, who was away from his post, cleaning one of the “Chorten” and was caught off guard by our sight, not expecting trekkers so late in the afternoon.
That way to Namche
“Jupkes” travelling from Namche to Tengboche
Trekking through dancing clouds, we managed to catch sight of a tall prayer flag post signaling that Namche Bazaar was close. A rainbow colored Himalayan monal pheasant welcomed us in the agriculture fields before the village. While watching this beautiful and unique sight, an unusual bell sound caught our attention. It was much more alert than the jupke bells, and sounding very close, however now jupkes were visible in sight. Soon, from between the trees, emerged a young Sherpa man riding fast on a short horse adorned with a necklace of bells, he rode past us stirring up clouds of dust and disappeared around a corner. Further down the trail we found his horse catching its breath, tied in front of a traditional Sherpa stone house.
Blooming flowers lining the trail
Soon we reached the “Mani” wheel and wall marking the entrance to Namche Bazaar village, leaving the “Mani” wheel spinning behind us we proceeded down the many wide stone steps leading down this horse shoe shaped, terraced village. Turning on a narrow alley we entered through our lodge’s back gate and straight into the dining room. Since we trekked through lunch, we were eager to eat dinner and tried something new: Spring rolls. It proved to be the best food we ever ate in the Himalaya 🙂
Spring rolls! 😀
This day we had descended and climbed back up about 550m in relief, over 15,5km in 23805 steps.
The following day was going to be our last trekking day in the Himalaya for this year.
For more pictures, check our EBC day 10 photo album 🙂