Everest Base Camp Trek by Shaun O'Boyle

Kitchen at one of the lodges in Kenja, a days walk and 5000' descent from Thodung. Good food here, rice and vegetables for dinner. There were guest rooms on the second floor, very simple, a wood framed bed to throw my sleeping bag on.   My knees we're sore from the long all day decent, and I was beginning to get the sense that my knees might not be up to the task of climbing and descending these fantastically steep mountain trails. The problem being that there is no moderation, a 5000' descent means that you are walking downhill all day long.

Journal April 4, Did a good piece today, left the cheese factory at 7:30 and arrived here in Kenja at 4:30. Beautiful little village nestled in the valley with 2 rivers coming together just below the town. Not 20 feet from my second story lodge window the river runs. Many lodges in the town. My knees are aching a bit today which I hope will not present a problem ahead. Malcoms wife's knees are really hurting so she will stay in Kenja while Malcom sets off with me for a week to 10 days to get a peak at Everest. Tomorrow we have a 6000 ft climb to reach Lamjura pass at 11,580 ft. Today we decended 5000 ft from Thodung. We took a look at the monestary this morning coming down, just a beautiful place, large prayer wheel. Saw the chapel, very peaceful, old warm rustic, walls covered with paintings, cubby holes with books folded perfectly, it felt like a monastery, secluded, contemplative, scholarly, devout, the chapel had a power from the objects, buddha manequins behind the altar, a large slim drum, offerings of water, cushioned places to pray, a black and white photo of the Dali Lama directly behind the altar, flanking each side of the altar were the book so neatly placed in the cubby holes and folded with precision. It was quite dark with light coming from 2 small side windows, a very powerful room. From the monastery it was down hill all the way. Attempted to take a bath in the river but it was too cold. Glacial runnoff, frigid. How beautiful this place is, I can't describe the beauty that every turn reveals, to me it is the perfect trekking place, no roads or cars, it could be the middle ages here. I'm writing by candle light.

Goyam Lodge, 7 hours of very steep climbing above Kenja and still 1 1/2 hours below Lamjura Pass.    Porters after a long day on the trail most of whom are heading to Namche Bazar for the weekly market. These guys are carrying about 3 times the weight that I am all supported from a "tump" line strapped across their forehead. Most of them were walking bare foot or with flip flop sandals or cheap Chinese canvas sneakers.

 Children from the small village surrounding Goyam Lodge

Journal April 5, Goyam Lodge, 10,350 ft. What a climb, started from Kenja at 5,360 ft at 8 am and climbed all day for 8 1/2 hours. We are still 300 meters below the pass, my knee is hurting and my calf is hard as a rock. It is quite a beautiful place here, a family run place with Mom and the kids in the kitchen, Dad out talking to all the Porters who are flowing through on their way to Jiri or Namche. It is an all stone building with mud packed walls and floors. I am up on teh second floor, light comes in through cracks in the ceiling and holes in the walls. Outside the sherpas a talking, a group of porters is heard singing as they come down from the pass, they pass the lodge at a trot with empty wicker baskets, these guys can really move.

Lamjura Pass, 11, 580 feet. A 6,220 ft climb from Kenja in the valley below. Happy to be here! You can see the prayer flags flapping in the breeze behind me.

Journal April 5, Salung, Himalayan View Lodge 9700 ft. A full 8 hours of walking today from Goyam, it took an additional 1 1/2 hours to reach the pass at a steady pace, tough uphill for the first 45 minutes, from the pass with clouded views we decended to Junbeisi monastery in 2 1/2 hours and had excellent apple pie and vegetable momo served by a jolly pudgy monk, a great place. From there a 1/2 hour decent to Junbesi then 3 hours uphill and flat walking to Salung. My knees are really giving me trouble and I'm trying to get a porter here to carry my pack to Namche Bazar, about 4 days from here. The decents are what aggrevate it and the following ascents are pure hell every step. I'm hoping if I take the weight off it will be OK. One way or another I will make it to Tengboche monastery for good views of Everest. With a rest in Namche it will get better.

April 7. Got very sick last night, vomiting and diarrhea, it had to be food poisoning as it came on 3 hours after eating and I had felt fine up to that point. I tried hiking today with Malcolm and my porter, a Sherpa of excellent character. I made it as far as the cheese factory above Ringmo and had to stop, felt like hell, I was in a daze coming up the mountain. So Malcom is pushing on and my porter and I will stay here till tomorrow morning. My knee was still giving me a tough time even without my pack, maybe todays rest will help heal it. The cheese factory is quite a wonderful place, old stone building with several smaller wooden buildings set around it. I slept in the lodge for a few hours until a large trekking group arrived, then my porter got me a private room in the stone house, sounds of wood choping and workers humming and singing, crows caw, its dusk now and I'm feeling much better yet still a bit weak physically and mentally, don't know if I will ake it to base camp at this time. If my knee doesn't get better I'll try to make it to Tengboche for a view of Everest and then fly back to Kathmandu from Lukla.I certainly won't be able to make any high altitude treks with my knee like this.

Just below Taksindu Pass (10,050'), the last of the 3 hard high altitude passes that one has to cross on the way to the Dudh Kosi river. This was a tough one because I had fallen ill between Lamjura pass and here, the water in this region of Nepal is infected with giardia and if you are eating in the local villages food prepared by the locals there is a good chance you will become infected as I did. I also caught some type of stomach virus that put me out for a day. I stayed at a lodge in Ringmo   surrounded by apple trees and they had home baked apple pies, but my stomach would not let me enjoy this tasty treat. 
The trek to Everest base camp from Jiri cuts across the "grain" of the topography, the river valleys run from north to the south but I was trekking from east to west so I was obliged to climb over three high altitude passed before I reached the the Dudh kosi valley which I follow up to Namche bazar.
Entering Khari Khola (6800') and in the Dudh Kosi valley, from here I follow the trail north for 3 days to Namche Bazar. The trail turns out to not follow the river at all but climb high along the valley wall revealing huge sheer drops to the river valley below in places. Rather disquieting in a few places if you do not like heights. Into Khari Khola

Journal April 8 , Khari Khola 6,800 ft. It's raining in the mountains, downpouring and thunder, the golden wheat in the fields soaking it up. It is a beautiful village high above the Dudh Khosi with mountains towering on all sides burried in clouds, whisps float above the lower ridges, high above a Gompa is visible through a opening in the clouds. Feeling much better today, stomach is OK, knee no better, the decents are hell and the ascents very difficult, my spirits are up from yesterdays illness, it really knocked me out for the day, I was having visions of getting out of here asap, but that has passed with the illness. At present I plan on going all the way to Kala Patar with a porter so I can hobble along with my stick. I'm not going to get this close and turn around. We are a long 2 days trek to Namche, or an easier 3 days trek.

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