It looks like we are coming to the end of this trip at last.

For those who have just discovered these photo blogs, the previous posts about my trek through the Everest Region in November 2021:

Kathmandu
Part I: Lukla to Namche
Part II: Namche to Khunde
Part III: Khunde to Pangboche
Part IV: Ama Dablam Basecamp to Dingboche
Part V: Chukkhung
Part VI: Kongma La
Part VII: Everest Base Camp
Part VIII: Cho La
Part IX: Gokyo
Part X: Renjo La

Trekking Nepal, Part XI: The Thame Valley and home

Day 19
After our afternoon hiking in the thick (and cold) fog, we woke as usual to bright sunny skies. There was scenery in all directions.

We came from somewhere up there.
The little building was labeled "Hot Shower," but it wasn't even a shower, let alone hot.

The Thame valley leads to the Nagpa La, the pass that provided one of the traditional trading routes to Tibet. International politics have led to the closure of that route, but it was the way the Sherpa people came into the Khumbu from Tibet. Our head guide, Lhakpa Dorji Sherpa grew up in the valley and was all up and down it as a boy.

A kharka--a summer herding center with stone pens--at the base of Chhuphu Ri.

Stone is what there is to build with in these places. Homes, walls, fences.

I thought the traditional homes in this village had surprised faces.

On this day, we walked out of sun and into fog the earliest yet, being completely socked in before lunch.

Thank goodness for guides and trails, because I sure had no idea where we were!

We were treated to lunch at the home of one of Lhakpa's (many) sisters. They made us potato pancakes with some kind of cheese on top (I am going to assume it was yak cheese. Whatever--it was good). All in this kitchen.


It was a short walk from lunch to our lodge, and we didn't know until we were told that we'd been walking along a bank very high above the Bhote Koshi (river)! The Valley View Lodge had a beautiful display of traditional kitchenware, mostly of beaten copper or brass.


Day 20
Once again, morning brought sunshine and a discovery of our (stunning) setting. This was a very pleasant lodge with great people, and our room had a functional sink and toilet!


Because this was home country for Lhakpa and for his cousin and our yak herder, Mingma, the day's hike was punctuated by repeated stops to take tea with relatives. We also dropped once more to cross the river at the mouth of a stunning gorge.

There is apparently something special about hanging prayer flags at bridges. Maybe people just feel that bridges need all the help they can get to be safe and secure?

The bittersweet excitement of watching the yaks come in one last time. They'll head back to Thame (with Mingma) in the morning.

Day 21
Since the yaks can't tolerate warm weather and don't go below Namche, they helicoptered our bags, along with our leader and her bad foot, down to Lukla. The rest of us walked the 11 miles, feeling strong, fit, and enjoying air full of oxygen.

Passing through the cleansing gate as we leave Namche. Every village has one of these, which prevent you from bringing in bad spirits, as I understood it.

 Back across the extremely high swing bridge over the Dudh Khola. One of those white scarfs out there is the one I knotted to the bridge on the way up.

All the way down to lunch we were accompanied by this dog. It didn't beg (in fact wouldn't even eat when food was offered), wasn't aggressive, but just seemed to want company. After lunch it picked up with some other hikers, but was seen in Lukla--11 miles from our start in Namche. I have no information on whether that was a permanent move, or it followed new hikers back up the next day.

 
As we neared Lukla we saw more and more porters with giant loads. Not many such 4 or 5 days up into the mountains; that must make it more practical to pay for yak transport.

We were strong and we were fast (I even kept up with my son after lunch). We were very grateful we weren't carrying loads like this.

Day 22
With all flights in and out of Lukla needing to be completed before the winds start to pick up, we had to be at the airport early. When our plane arrived, we were lined up and ready to board as soon as the uphill passengers got off. Total time on the ground was less than 10 minutes.

Not our flight, but same idea.

Back in Kathmandu, we rested, enjoyed large, comfortable rooms with fully-functional bathrooms, and bought gifts. A very little sightseeing was done by most of us.
Kathmandu scene

After a couple of days and a PRC test that dang near poked a hole in the back of my eyeball (seriously, it gave me a bloody nose), we drove to the airport through rush-hour traffic.

The trip that took 15 or 20 minutes at 5 a.m., took 1 hour and 15 or 20 minutes at 5 p.m. Good thing we left lots of time!

By this point, I had no idea what day it was. Pretty sure that's a sunset.
 

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©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2022
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