17 Oct, 2018

Day 2 – Made it to Namche!

Written by: Russ

South Downs Way

Distance:

miles

Time:

hours

Elevation gain:

feet

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Day 2 route overview

From Phakding you’ll continue north along the valley, crisscrossing your way over multiple suspension bridges and tackling the most elevation gain you’ll see in a single day on the route to get to Namche Bazaar.

Elevation

The route is steady for the first 4 miles of the day. Making your way through the valley the route is a gradual climb over the river on the suspension bridges. Just after you begin the 5th mile, you’ll cross the Hillary Suspension bridge and shoot straight up the mountainside on trail consisting of switchbacks all the way to Namche.

Over the M3

A good night’s rest

Waking to the sound of yak bells passing by my bedroom, I almost forgot where I was. It took a second to realise I was on my way to the foot of the tallest peak on the planet. So peaceful was Phakding, I could hear the sound and smell of breakfast being prepared and hikers getting ready in the lobby. I packed my pack ready for the day and made my way down for coffee and an omelette to fuel the day and met Kalyan outside. He’d been awake since 4am for meditation and prayer and I was only just crawling out of bed at 05:30! How lazy of me.

Over the M3
Over the M3
Over the M3

The mission

My Aunt Linda passed away suddenly at a young age only 2 years prior to the trip. I decided to take a photograph of her to the foot of Everest to leave there. It would become my mission and the one thing that’ll keep me going on the trip, no matter how difficult it got, it would be worth the pain and hardship to reach my goal and lay Linda’s photograph to rest in peace and beauty. 

Over the M3

The way to Namche

The route to Namche was lush and green with the Dhudh Kosi River winding and roaring its way down the valley as we crossed it multiple times on the suspension bridges. Being mindful of the trains of donkeys and mules making their way up and down the route. I came to learn that they only use yaks in higher elevations as they’re more adapted to the altitude. Mules, donkeys and horses are used in lower elevations.

A few miles down the route and we entered the Sagamarta National Park (“Sagamarta” being the Sherpa name for Mt Everest). After 20 minutes in the queue, permits checked and register signed we pressed on up the valley.

Over the M3
Over the M3
Over the M3

Hillary Suspension Bridge

In 2013 a new suspension bridge was built in commemoration to Sir Edmund Hillary. This would be the tallest suspension bridge we’d cross in terms of its height from the river below and one of the longest. It also marks the moment when the going gets tough and you begin your ascent to Namche on the hills above.

The climb to Namche was one of the toughest sections of the trip for me. My body was still acclimating to the altitude and we’d only been trekking properly for a day. The ascent to Namche is where many hikers drop out and end up needing to descend to lower elevations to stay and acclimatise further before continuing the trip. I was determined to get to Namche and took it very slowly. Baby steps the whole way got me there eventually. We passed through a checkpoint and we were there.

Over the M3

We made it!

Kalyan told me that if I can make it to Namche, I can make it to Base Camp.

That ascent almost had me because my body was still adjusting. Plenty of rest, a large soup and veggie momos for dinner were the perfect way to end the day. I also had hot running water in the hotel, so I made the most of my last shower I’d have for almost 2 weeks. 

Over the M3
Over the M3

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