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Nepal 2014

Day 6. Everest Base Camp Trek. Nunthala to Bupsa

NEPAL | Saturday, 31 May 2014 | Views [1036]

We managed to get away by 7.30, and the level street of Nunthala quickly gave way to the inevitable boulder field, the track of packed, fractured flagstones that is so very difficult to walk on. If the repeated effort is not enough, each step is a different height and steepness and angle and your footing could be rugged rock, powdered earth, mud or all of these in a puddle of stale mule urine.

We had to give way to mule trains many times during the day, early on as they streamed fully laden to the next staging point, and later in the day as teams returned with empty packs. The packs and webbing wear away the fur and some animals had open saddle sores.

They can move quite fast even with a full load, and are nervous and have to be passed with care. It's best to stand on the high side of a path, well out of the way until they pass as they come in twos and threes and will easily jostle you. If you're on the wrong side of the slope... Many Trekkers have come to grief that way.

We finally reached to the bottom of our valley and crossed the milky glacial water of the Dudh Khosi at its confluence with the clear spring water of the Deku Khola. We'll be following the Dudh Khosi until Base Camp and crossing it many more times, we were told. The descent was 3 and 1/2 hours and 8,600 bone-crunching steps. Of course the only way to go from there, at 1,300 m, is up. The trail was much like the descent to the river, uneven, sheer, rocky and overhung by the ever-present stench of mule urine. If the sun had not been obscured by thickening cloud, the climb might have been unbearable.

All the same it was very beautiful; tiny homesteads and villages clinging to the mountainsides with views over plunging, bottomless valleys, forests and overlooked by high peaks fringed by clouds. Villages have neat stands of barley and kale in terraces, a few chickens, friendly dogs and occasionally a big black pig in a sty. A number of houses are shop fronts showing fabrics, staples and snacks packed in bright plastic wrappers (which end up on the trail).

We reached Kharikola after a hard climb, lunching in a bright teahouse on the trail, overlooking the closing valley and the ridge to be conquered after lunch. We packed in calories for the final heartbreaking climb to Bupsa. However, the early start meant we had 3 hours of sunlight at the end of the day to rest, wash and write our journals.

One thing noticeable is the change in our physical fitness. It’s not that days are any less demanding, but during and after a challenging stretch, breathing is easier and recovery time is very much quicker. Muscles still get fatigued but we're less inclined to give up. It's noteworthy that in a gym you tend to give up when you feel the burn and feel self-righteous after an hour of burn-and-rest. Here the burn is the same but you have to keep going, pause, resume, for a whole day. 

I'm learning that my legs have several sets of muscles. There is the set for standing, for walking, the climbing set, the stepping down group, and the twisting, turning and keeping your balance set. Each muscle set is activated separately so you have to wonder what a gym workout of climbing stairs or walking on a treadmill does for you with all those other muscles unchallenged. How could a gym prepare you for this?

We're all feeling better about the challenges to come, now quite close: Tomorrow we intend to reach Lukla. If the weather is good Gerard and Nick will fly in the next morning and we'll all set off for stage one of the joint trek to the Roof of the World.  

Tags: bupsa, everest base camp trek, nunthala


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