An early start for trekking today for what I had read is described as one of the more challenging days of the trek, as i was heading for Namche Bazaar which involves an 800m accent and a lot of steps (like really a lot). I enjoyed a good breakfast of apple pancakes and ginger tea at 7am then at 7.30am the trekking began. The weather was a little cloudy and there was a slight chill in the air so I layer up appropriately, after an hour or so however the sun came out and the layers were way too much. As I would find out during this trek you get hot quickly, a 5kg pack and high altitude mean the energy you expend keeps you warm so I quickly removed all my outer layers leaving just a T-shirt and after applying some sun cream continued onwards.
The first main milstone of the day was to enter the Sagarmatha National Park where there is a trekking checkpoint, these checkpoints occur at various points along the trek. This is where you pay you buy your TIMS card which gets stamped along the route, the reason for these points is to track people so that if someone goes missing the search and rescue teams have a place to start looking. Then after about 15 minutes there getting the paperwork done we were on the way again.
There were 5 suspension bridges to cross today, each getting higher and more scenic as you go along, if you are afraid of heights you should be fine as I found them fairly sturdy (as long as a pack of cows were not heading towards you!). The early trekking with my guide Niraj was at a fairly brisk pace, I actually left him behind at some points but I did slow down a bit as I had read that over exertion can lead to AMS. I am naturally quite a quick walker so I did find myself actively slowing down at some points as ascending too quickly is a high cause of AMS.
The quick pace meant that we actually arrived at our halfway point by 10.30am and this was were we stopped at a teahouse for lunch (this is a popular lunch time when trekking). The team house was really nice, views of the mountains and real wood flooring and panelling creating a clean and picturesque surrounding. I went for the garlic soup (recommended for acclimatisation) and some ginger tea both of which were very nice. I also took the chance to fill up one of my 2 Litre water bottles, something that is recommended to do during your team room stops as its important to drink plenty of water during trekking especially at the higher altitudes.
After an hour rest we continued on to Namche and I was told that the 2nd half o the trek was the hardest part as the majority of the elevation occurs during this portion. The next couple of hours were very up and down, going up a 100m come down the same but then came the steps. The last couple of hours were pretty much just up, a seemingly never ending procession of steps that kept going and going. I have to say about half way through this I realised that garlic soup although tasty did not have enough calories to energise me and I was grateful for the couple of nutri grain bars that I had kept in my day sack for trek snacks.
During the accent upwards there were various rest stops were you could take a seat and get your pack off your pack for 5 mins or so. These were also excellent opportunities to drink plenty of water to manage your recommended 4-5 litres per day. After a few rest stops we eventually arrived at Namche which was the good news. The bad news was in Namche there is a shit load more steps, it’s a town built on a mountain or loads of steps depending on how you look at it. As fate would have it my team room was the furthest away point in Namche up that maximum amount of steps.
After the never ending steps accent eventually I arrived at my accommodation for the next couple of nights and I was impressed with the tea room. It was clean, had a reasonable comfortable bed and great views looking down the town into a valley. There was a western style toilet for communal use and hot (solar) showers available, the last decent showers on the trek. I settled in and then ordered dinner of vegetable fried rice (which was to become a favourite of mine) and it was tasty.
I retired to my room around 9pm and headed to sleep soon after, It was a bit of a restless sleep again as I woke up with a slight headache which I reckon was dehydration. I am not used to drinking high quantity’s of water and although I had 3 litres I resolved to try and get closer to the recommended amount in future days. I did also find that switching sleeping position to lying in my back rather than my side allowed me to sleep a bit better.