Day 2 EBC: Kinja to Junbesi

We had our usual champa porridge and milk coffee in the morning.  Doug always carries extra instant coffee to add into our milk tea for a bit more stronger taste than how the Nepalese like.  We always look forward to champa porridge in the morning and it keeps our energy up most of the day until we take a break late mid morning for a snack.

Today was a big day and the weather was clear when we woke up.  We saw blue skies and right of Kinja is a big climb, the start of a sustained climb all the way to Lamjura La pass.  Our first few kilometers, I noticed Doug’s level of energy is not the usual so I asked him how he was feeling.  It must have been the steep climb or the wind causing him to be somewhat cold in the early morning. We decided to stop at a tea house in Goyam which is close to mid way up the pass.  We ordered Sherpa Stew which is a flat, thick, hand pulled noodles with potatoes and vegetables.  We waited for almost an hour for the soup to be served and was able to keep warm drinking hot tea.  It started to rain outside while we were having our Sherpa Stew, then it stopped.  The sun came out and it was time for us to take advantage of the sun’s heat as we started climbing the steep slopes again.

We were going up a total gain of 6,000 ft in one day and up to 11,100 ft altitude.

The climb was through lush forest and we really enjoyed seeing all the Rhododendron blooming in all colors.  This was one thing we missed two years ago as we were heading down to Jiri.  Spring time is so beautiful in the Solu-Khumbu compared to the dusty, dry and bare Fall on the same climb.

All of a sudden, I heard rain?  No, it’s hail and it’s starting to come down hard.

It was going to be the toughest day in the Solu-Khumbu and we really experienced one of the powerful elements of mother nature, the thunderstorm! Thunder from the skies drummed so loud and my heart pumped faster fearing that there may be some lightning strikes. We put our rain jackets on and covered our backpacks. As we climbed higher, hail turned into heavy rain. We were getting soaked and there was more steep steps to go plus many more kilometers downhill before Jimbesi. We hauled ass, ignoring many of dangers of the terrain and just went for it, as fast as we can while the powerful thunders freaked us out!  There was silence between us as every step we make moves us faster to our destination to get warm and dry.  All I can hear was the rain drops on my rain cap and felt the cold dripping water into my shirt. I looked back and Doug was very soaked. All I can say to him was, “we are getting there, hang in there…” there was no point of asking if he was okay because we were both cold, tired and wet. We need to get to Jimbesi really quick.

We finally reached the summit and felt the muddy water rush down the steep terrain.  To see the stupa and the prayer flags was such a relief and gave us much more motivation to keep going.  The tea house at the top was closed and we later found out that the owner had gone down to Jimbesi for the festival.  We looked down into the forest of wet, slick rocks and relied heavily on the stability of our feet. Water started rushing down the exposed roots and slippery mud made it tough to find a good line. The two of us focused on making it down without getting injured and managed to do good time just to find out that we have a few more kilometers in the heavy rain to Jimbesi.  There was no time for anything except move.  Moving helps heat up the body and being cold sometimes makes the body move faster.  In any case, we had to get out of the rain!

Finally, we see the stupa and a gompa (monastery) but Jimbesi is still around the corner of the mountain or hill, as the locals would call.  It looked more like a mountain to me!  I looked at Doug’s condition and turned back to keep moving as we were getting closer to a tea house.

We made it to Namaste tea house and changed our clothes, headed down to the dining room immediately for some hot drinks and hot soup. Doug was still shivering as we wait but we are out of the rain and it was time to recover.

What a day!  Now, we have all our clothes soaked and shoes needed to get dry overnight.  Luckily, the tea house owner was kind to keep the stove running almost all night and put a clothes line above the stove to help our clothes dry as well as our shoes.  We decided to go to Ringmo the next day, a short trek to get a little bit more recovery time after a big day.

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