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Everest Trek in Nepal...
4/15/98

Namaste everyone. This is my second group email from Nepal.

After a day's wait we finally boarded a 14 seat Canadian made Twin Otter aircraft. The pilot took Mary, myself and maybe ten other trekkers over the foothills of the Himalayas Eastward from Kathmandu, toward the Everest region of Nepal. As we skirted above the clouds and snow covered ridges the massive ice mountains of highest peaks in the world pushed there way into the sky. Our Nepali pilot quickly took us down into a hole in the scattered cloud cover and brought us safely on to the famous "up hill" landing strip at Lukla. Spontaneous applause was offered by the passengers when the plane finally came to a halt. So, this is how our two and half week trek in the Everest region started.

We slowly walked up the valley toward the high peaks, each day only hiking for three to four hours. Winding our way between Sherpa villages and rivers, up and down hillsides and landslides. By afternoon we would have reached a small family run lodge that would become our home for the evening. These lodges offered most of the comforts that Mary and I needed, tasty food, a hot pot of tea and a warm wood stove to sit around once the sun dipped below the mountains.

As we worked our way toward Namche Bazaar, the business hub of the Everest area, we noticed more Tibetans on the trail. Often I called, "Tashi Delay, kaba pep-ka", that's "hello, where are you going" in Tibetan. The incredulous Tibetans were a bit stunned that I actually spoke Tibetan, often I would have to repeat myself. Then they would reply to me in a tone of disbelief, "You speak, good Tibetan!". Once the shock diminished, we talked of where they had come from, and what they were doing in Nepal. Some came as refugees looking for freedom in India, heading to Dharamsala to see the His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. They carried all of their worldly possessions on their backs. Some asked when I thought Tibet would be free, and they told me that when Tibet is free again and the Dalai Lama returns to the Land of Snows, that all Tibetans will be exceedingly happy.

Others came as traders, well actually smugglers since they were illegally in Nepal with no passport, having crossed the snow covered 18,700 foot Nangpa-la pass between Tibet and Nepal. They brought Chinese silk brocade, sneakers with Michael Jordan's number and "Chicago Bulls" written on the side, and yaks loaded down with Tibetan carpets from Lhasa. As we passed on the trail then tried to sell us small pieces of turquoise, and black and white Tibetan glass beads that hung from strings on their necks.

After a little more than a week we reached Gyoko, a small collection of guest houses and tents that marked the end of the trail. It had taken us more then four hours on a trail through two foot deep snow. At an altitude of more than 14,000 feet, we awoke the next morning to a mostly frozen water bottle at our bedside. A days rest was needed before we could climb the 18,000 foot hill next to Gyoko. From the top we were treated to a stunning 360 degree view of glaciers, snow and rock. There are only 14 mountains in the world that are higher than 8,000 meters or 26,240 feet. Four of these 8,000 meter peaks stood before us, the largest of course being Mt. Everest, the top of which was still more than 10,000 feet higher than where we stood.

The same mountain flying Twin Otter plane deposited us in Kathmandu a few days back and since then we have been making a daily tour of bakeries, Thai restaurants and most recently a Japanese restaurant, in a seemingly unending quest to fill up on delicious food.

Mary will fly back to the USA, on April 7, while I will stay in here until April 23. At that time I will fly to Northern Pakistan to meet up with my friends John and Liyang to begin our bike tour of Northern Pakistan, Western China and Tibet.

 

love....ray


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