Gokyo Trek, Nepal

23 11 2016

Nepal. Himalayas. Hell yes.

Despite all that is written about flying into Lukla (dubbed one of the most dangerous airports in the world-short runway, mountain on one side, cliff on the other, 11.7% gradient), we had a pretty uneventful, anticlimactic landing. Maybe I’m jaded from growing up in Alaska and riding in bush planes….That being said, everyone else on the airplane cheered when we landed  🙂

The trek took us 12 days, none of the days being very long-distance wise or a lot of elevation gain. However, it was the altitude that kicked our asses, backpacking at 9,000-15,500 feet.

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Living at sea level, landing in Lukla (9334 ft.) put me at almost the highest I’ve ever been. Rachael & I had quickly organized our gear and set off for Phakding.

Beautiful prayer wheels were abundant along the trek.

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On the way to Phakding. The first two days of the trek weather ranged from warm & sunny (60-65f) to cold & raging rains (40-45f). Everyone in the region commented that the monsoons were later this year than usual.

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Beautiful stupas and large boulders carved with prayers on them are commonplace along the trek.

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Much respect to the porters. They climb up and down the valley carrying crazy loads, no matter the weather. We repeatedly got passed along the trek by porters carrying 60-90 lbs wearing flip flops.

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One of many suspension bridges crossing the Dudh Kosi. Sharing the bridges with yaks, burros & cows felt like getting double bounced on a trampoline.

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The beautiful Dudh Kosi. A violent, raging, gorgeous river. This is the final suspension bridge crossing before the climb to Namche.

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Namche Bazaar! Just above 11,000 ft. We stayed in this beautiful village a couple days to acclimatize. It was mostly foggy (this view was rare), wet, and cold-about 40-45f. Pemba Sherpa & his staff at the Khumbu Lodge treated us like family.

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We spent one of our “rest” days climbing up to Kunde & Khumjung. Khumjung is the largest Sherpa village in the region, and where many people higher up on the trek live in the off season. Everyone was so welcoming! We got invited into an older woman’s house for tea, where she told us stories & shared her potatoes with us. Afterwards, she took us on a “short-cut” to the bakery, hoping over stone walls and almost running so fast where we could barely keep up with her!

Young boys making faces at us 🙂

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The monestary in Kunde.

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Fall colors.

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Much of the next few days were spent again in a fog & cold. This is actually good visibility. Mostly, we could only see about 10-15 feet in front of us.

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Rachael climbing out of Dole. Brief window of sun, before more clouds & rain. Weather typically was nicer in the morning, then clouds and rain would roll in by early afternoon.

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Young Sherpa girl.

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Yak dung drying. Yak dung is the fuel that heats every tea house in the region.

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Prayer tablets at Machermo. We escaped the rain and upper 20/lower 30f weather and went to a altitude sickness talk at the local clinic. Super informative & worth the time! Machermo is at 14,600 feet-it’s typically where altitude sickness starts affecting some people. Everyday on the trek, we heard helicopters buzzing up and down the valley, many carrying patients back to Kathmandu. The doctors in Machermo said that they would have 1-2 patients fly out per day. Gokyo had many more leaving by heli.

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After pouring rain all night, we woke up to blue skies, fresh snow on the peaks & sun!

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We finally had great visibility & sun! The views were stunning in every direction!

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Cho Oyo.

 

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Young herder.

 

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Rock cairns at the first lake. Cairns are viewed as makeshift stupas and everywhere in the Gokyo region. The five lakes in the Gokyo region are sacred places to the Nepalese. The Gokyo area reminded me of Alaska on steroids-stunningly beautiful, with 8,000 meter peaks, prayer flags, and yaks!

 

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Entering the third lake & Gokyo (15,500 ft). This area was so unbelievably gorgeous, it’s no wonder it’s considered sacred.

 

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Although, I got a touch of altitude sickness once we got to Gokyo (which I was able to solve with medicine), Rachael really suffered. On top of that, we both had acquired horrible sinus infections in Namche (which stayed with us for the rest of the trip) and the Khumbu cough (which lasted much longer than the trip 😦 ). We stayed at the Fitz Roy-They were amazing & so helpful, checking in on us, sending up pots of hot water & warm juice to help us get better. Can’t say enough great things about them!

Trail through the yak dung patties in Gokyo.

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Gokyo, from Gokyo Ri.

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We bagged our original plan of going over Renjo La pass to Thame, due to the altitude sickness & climbing another 2,000 didn’t seem like a good plan. We chose to descend the other side of the valley and stay in Phortse to get some different views instead. It is the path less traveled & definitely took longer, but well worth it.

Old abandoned Sherpa home.

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Good morning from Phortse!

 

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Yaks, Phortse, & Ama Dablam-by far the most beautiful mountain in the Himalayas!

 

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Everest & Ama Dablam.

 

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Definitely a trip & trek of a lifetime. Amazing from start to finish.

 

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5 responses

23 11 2016
U. Johnson

What an awesome and exiting trip!!!

23 11 2016
Alesia Piol

Wow what an amazing journey!! I want backpack Nepal so bad! Would love to read more blogs pertaining to backpackers for beginners or how you organized your trip, thanks! 😊

https://alesiasaffordableadventures.wordpress.com/

28 11 2016
amberejohnson

Hi Alesia,
Backpacking Nepal is really easy. You can either hire a guide, who will make arrangements with teahouses to stay in (and usually a porter) or do it on your own. We did it on our own, and found making arrangements easy. We winged it & just found places in each village to stay along the way. Busy areas and popular routes can get booked up, so many opt to get a cell phone in Nepal (or swap SIM cards) to call ahead & arrange rooms. We used the Lonely Planet for a lot of references, but also asked anyone we knew that had been to the area for advice, and blogs. Many treks in Nepal you have to hire a guide, we chose Gokyo because we could do it all on our own. There are a lot of great guides out there-we met many that were so helpful to their clients (and us). Both of us are experienced backpackers. We found using Steri-pens to purify water the best option-both for cost & the environmental aspect (left over plastic bottles). We brought snacks that we love from the US-snacks along the trek were mostly Snickers bars, junk food, etc. The trek we did, showers were minimal (and in most places ice cold), but a friend did Annapurna with warm showers everywhere. We used baby wipes & Dr. Bronner’s to stay clean and hand santizer. We managed to avoid any stomach problems. We easily made flight arrangements in Kathmandu and there are map places everywhere in the Thamel section of Kathmandu, but you can buy maps prior from National Geographic. Make sure you have extra cash when leaving Kathmandu or Pokhara-there are no ATMs along the way, and most places do not accept credit cards. We found in Lukla, many people had been stranded for 3-4 days due to weather, and were short on funds. Make sure to get shots ahead of time and ask your doctor for a prescription for Diomox (altitude sickness pills) if you think you might need it (we did). Let me know if there’s anymore information you’d like.

28 11 2016
Alesia Piol

Wow thank you so much!!!! I’m screenshotting this haha 😂

24 11 2016
Judy

What a great adventure and beautiful photos!!!

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