I woke up the next day and my ankle hurt so incredibly bad. I could barely put any weight on it. However, thanks to all of my sports medicine classes at Marshall and ibuprofen, I was able to tape my ankle up really good and was able to walk again (almost) painlessly.
We fueled up in the morning with a big breakfast and some milk tea before heading out on the trail. Being still at a pretty low elevation (8,614 feet), we passed through many towns along the way. The trail runs through the middle of little villages. There are many places for people to stop along the way to sit or buy water or gear of some sort. Also along the trail are many religious items such as mani stones and prayer wheels. Mani stones are rocks or sheets of stones with a mantra painted or carved into them. Prayer wheels are wheels with these same mantras on them but are supposed to be turned clockwise to release the prayers and mantras within.
The trail for the first half of the day followed a river that came from a glacier further up in the mountains. The water was a beautiful blueish gray color. Also on that morning we saw our first yak caravan. Yaks(males) and naks(females) are used to haul goods throughout the mountains. They have items strapped to their back and cute bells around their necks. In the morning we also stopped at Sagarmatha National Park checkpoint to show that we had the appropriate permits for the trek. For lunch we stopped at a cute place along the river and I tried my first momos! Momos, another typical dish of Nepal, are like steamed dumplings with different things inside such as chicken, buffalo, vegetables, cheese, and potatoes. I got the buffalo momos and loved them. This was one of the last times we had meat for the following 2 weeks.
After lunch we began to make the long uphill trek to Namche Bazar. We first climbed up to a really tall suspension bridge to cross to the other side of the river. There are many suspension bridges during the trek, but this was one of the tallest (and most swaying) that we encountered. Directly after the bridge began 3 straight hours of steep uphill hiking. The gain in elevation was abrupt and it became harder and harder for me to breathe. I had to stop and catch my breath every 5 steps. I was also regretting my choice of a cheap Walmart backpack to be my day pack, but in the end it worked out alright.
By the time we reached the top, I was the most tired I had ever been in my life (up to this point). This was my first time experiencing high altitude, and it really affected me and would continue to for the rest of the trek. Later that night I felt symptoms of mild altitude sickness (nausea, headache, fatigue, no appetite, etc), but luckily the next morning my symptoms had gone away. We slept well, except for occasionally being awakened by the sound of rats scurrying around in the walls and ceiling. The next morning we awoke and had a hearty breakfast of cheese toast (YAY, grilled cheese for breakfast!).
To work on altitude acclimatization, Prakash took us on an acclimatization hike which made us gain altitude during day but had us return to our previous elevation to sleep. We first saw a memorial for Tenzing, one of the first people to summit Everest. We also got our very first view of Mount Everest and the many beautiful surrounding mountains. Mount Everest looked tiny from there, but before long we would be standing at its base.
After this place, we hiked up to the top of a hill overlooking the town of Namche and we saw the highest airport in the world. On the way down this hill, we stopped and visited a monastery and learned a great deal more about Buddhism. Soon after we headed back to our lodge for hot lemon and many rounds of cards.
Luca and I always play Scala 40, our favorite Italian card game, and we taught Prakash to play as well. On this day we really got to know Prakash a lot better and over the course of the trek we became great friends. We all went to bed early to prepare for another long hike to Tengboche the following day!
Thanks for reading!