November 7, 2022
Start: Namche Bazaar 3440m (11,284ft)
Stop: Dole 4100m (13,448ft)
12km (7.4 miles)
Breakfast at 7am and departure just after 8am. Our porters, which we still haven’t formally met, are outside preparing our bags for transport. We say hi to each other but they do not speak enough English for us to have a conversation. The sun shines brightly and glints off the snowy mountain tops. We make our way up and out of Namche Bazaar climbing gradually in between segments of trail and stone stairs. We pass a small chorten (stupa) dedicated to the 50th anniversary (1953 – 2003) of Tenzing Norgay’s summit of Everest and the Sherpas of Everest. As always, we are passed by or meet yak and oxen trains transporting goods. There’s even the occasional client riding a horse which looks rather painful to me. After a tea break at the Ama Dablam View Lodge we climb gradually for hours until we reach our lunch destination of Mong La (13,021ft).
I eat way too much as the clouds move in around us. Without the sun, it becomes bitter cold. There’s a guy from America chatting us up a bit during lunch and he eventually asks where we are headed today. We tell him that Dole (say Doe-Lay) is our destination and he just makes a long groaning noise in response. After lunch we descend steeply as the gas from lunch kicks in hard. I toot my way down the switchbacks. We descend at least 1,200 feet into the valley, losing a lot the elevation gained in the morning. The Dudh Koshi River is just below us as we promptly start climbing steeply. We climb and climb and climb. I’m sweating like crazy but also freezing cold. I’m only wearing my rei northway hiking shirt on my core but I know that any additional layers will feel like torture. The clouds still hang above us and darkness is quickly approaching. Tiger, our chief guide, is with Caspar and I and he spots a black musk deer. The small deer is on the very steep hillside and seems to be foraging for any food that can be found. We pass many waterfalls along the shaded slope which have ice still hanging on them. It takes all my mental strength to keep pushing forward in the cold. I’m tempted to stop and put on another layer when the trail flattens slightly and I can start to smell smoke. We round the bend and there is the tiny village of Dole. Finally! As the fingers of darkness reach in, we descend off the trail to our home for the night at Alpine Cottage Lodge.
Before indulging in the warmth of the dining room, Caspar and I go to our room to change out of our sweaty clothes. Our room is freezing cold! I switch out my completely soaked bra and get into my lounge/camp clothes. We hurry back into the dining room where people are circled around the stove. We indulge on hot tea and scarf down cookies and biscuits like there is no tomorrow. Darkness has completely encircled us and Sue has not arrived yet. Tiger heads back out with his headlamp and a jug of hot tea. Maybe a half hour later, Tiger and Bikram appear with Sue and we cheer her arrival. Dinner starts with a luxurious hot steaming towel to clean our face. After filling up on biscuits, our dinner portions are too large so we share some of our extra portions with our guides. After slices of apple for dessert, we head for the room and get into our sleeping bags as fast as possible. Caspar is asleep before me and it’s all of 8:20pm when I’m finally ready for sleep. Today was definitely our longest and hardest day yet.