December 17, 2018 Monday Kathmandu (1400 m)

It was bit cold at the airport; however, we didn’t have to wait long. Dr. Chuck (Charles Lampley), his daughters, Elizabeth, Sydney, and Sarah, and their friend, Anna Blake, came on time. They looked a little tired because they had a long transit at Delhi.

Needless to say, the drive to the hotel was not very long. Chuck reminisced about his splendid time during his previous Nepal visit. He was excited inquiring about events at Pashupatinath en route.

They were warmly welcomed at the hotel reception. DK and I tried to explain something about their Everest trek and they listened to it quietly. Chuck has good questions about pace, food, altitude and so on. The girls can’t wait to go, and they have a needed rest.

December 18, 2018 Tuesday Lukla/Phakding (2652 m)

Early morning we greeted them and we had to arranges their backpack and some bags to store. After a while, they take their packed breakfast and say good bye to Hotel Bliss. There were already some queues and a little crowd for the mountain flight and Lukla flight. It is good that we were the first to check in. I was a little worried as my experience says that there are always huge crowds. Needless to say, it was low season, but still you can see a bunch of adventurous people for Everest Region. After swift check in, we boarded the flight, and it took off at 0730 and soon we landed. Our two porter friends greeted us, and Anna Blake and Elizabeth were excited. I happily said to Chuck that the weatherforecast gave wrong information about bad weather and possible cancellation of flight. He can’t agree more and gestured towards the girls showing how happy they were.

After a little walk of 5 mins, we rested for tea at our hotel in Lukla. DK had a perfect location, and they enjoyed the drinks. Now, the real adventure begins. Everyone were excited and started to walk without looking back. The trail was flat and little down hill and then little up hill till Phakding about 4 hours walk.

Slowly we were introduced. Elizabeth, is very social and has just graduated from nursing school, and started working as a Travel Nurse. Anna Blake is a marketer and writes proposals. Sarah is a university student of studying marine biology, and Sydney is doing Speech Therapy. Dr. Chuck is a gynecologist.

December 19, 2018 Wednesday Namche (3440 m)

After having breakfast and a nice sleep everyone was ready by 8:30. I was observing the last night conversation between Chuck’s family and the lodge owner. He said easily “EBC is easiest and it is hardest”. I took it as easy though it had a deep meaning of life. We happen to meet Dorje on the doorsteps of our hotel Snowland. At firsthe was competing with Sydney in an arm wrestling competition. He wanted to compete with all of them and that’s why history says “Brave Sherpa.” Some gave him a chance to be happy by losing to him.

It was a gradual hike untilTokTok. I noticedthe Himalaya hospital which is going to be open soon, and mentioned it to Chuck. After some exhaustive walking we relaxed for some minutes while checking in at Sagarmatha National Park at the entry point at Monjo. DK checked in quickly, and our next destination wasNamchewhich was a tough walk.

After lunch at Jorsale, we were happy to move ahead. Some nice songs of Taylor Swift were sung by Anna Blake and Elizabeth. I wish they could have formed a band and called it “Soul Sister.” Their voice was heart touching. I added mine but in Nepali. It is little hard to translate:

“You are an example of beauty,
you are the voice in silence
because you are mine, I find myself in you”

We gradually hike up the hill and Sarah, who knows many things about science and marine biology, inquired about plants that were cultivated and the use of dung. Most of the plants were spinach and potato, and the dung was used for the firewood. After crossing the suspension bridge, we were a little exhausted hiking uphill;however, there were no shortcuts and we had to continue. After a little rest Chuck was ready for the exciting and strenuous walk into the thin air, so we followed. Most of us were silent because it was really hard. I love walking and meditating.. Our destination for today was quite near when we reached the Police Post. I happened to meet a Sherpa girl who was on the phone with her boyfriend. I just listened to the conversation. She explained to me that he is now in Dubai working, and he sent many things including the expensive I -phone as well. She couldn’t wait to meet him next Dashain in Oct and they will soon marry. I did not like the idea of marriage at the age of 19, however, I could do nothing but told her to continue her studies at least till class 12 so she can have many opportunities. Con calma.. She said yes but will not do for certain…. How can we think about “women empowerment”, I questioned myself.?

Everyone looks excited to reach Namche, the most luxurious village in the Khumbu region; one can find internet, bars, and shopping. I introduced Elizabeth as a Travel Nurse at the Pharmacy, and NirmalRai was interested to see if she could stay there and help them. I appreciated the courageous lady all the way from Bhojpur who was working and studying for her extended family of 9. We wished her well before getting a delicious brownie. All enjoyed it and then spent time playing cards. I knew some strategy, but I still couldn’t figure out all the rules. Sarah and I lost the game.

December 20, 2018 Thursday Namche (3440 m)

After a leisure breakfast we headed towards Sagarmatha National Park where we saw the majestic mountains Amadablam and Mt. Everest. Chuck was interested in the museum and Sherpa culture. Sarah and I had a good discussion about Buddhism. She has good knowledge about Buddhism philosophy. I added that impermanence was the backbone of it. Though there are many sects within Mahayana and Theravaad, Buddhist practitioners believe Buddha was God, and was born in Nepal. Half of the world is still confused about the birthplace of Buddha.

All of them were excited viewing Kongdeand Monjo village from the camp. After a while we visited the exquisite Hotel Everest View at Shyangboche. This was an acclimatization day.

We managed to reach a photogenic place with prayer flags. I have noticed the excitement in Chuck’s face and his telling his crazyl stories about climbing down the hill from the hotel and getting lost backin 1986.

We had tea at a beautiful location. The manager told me about the new management and less business in the aftermath of the earthquakesand the insurgency. Now there are good prices and a superb location.

December 21, 2018 Friday Tengboche (3875 m)

We headed towards today’s destination which was another strenuous walk. Everyone was mentally prepared. Sarah did not miss a chance to question me about flora and fauna. BhojPatra (also known as Spanish Moss) was found in the trees and our ancestors used it for roofing because it was eco friendly and economic. Chuck told that there is Spanish Moss in North Carolina. I was wondering why they have the prefix“Spanish.”

We crossed the suspension bridge and had lunch at PungiTenga

Anna Blake and Elizabeth were enjoying Taylor Swift ‘s “You belong with Me” and I remembered the old song of Sherpa children:

Lake ka hamiketaketikuhirobhitra school cha
Chaurilaicharaudai din bitcha, padnaralekhumuskilcha !

We are the children from the mountains, our school is inside clouds,
Always days are finished yak grazing , learning/going at school is problem!

Splendid day indeed. We soon reached Tengboche . Mt. Everest, Amadablam, Mt. Tawache, Nuptse were smiling towards us. After the quick check in at Tea House, we could not wait to go and have a glimpse. Though there were no monks praying, we observed the old monastery. The 19th century monastery was sacred because most of the climbers offer special Pooja there and get blessings from the Lama so that they can summit without problems. Everyone was quiet and focused towards observing the oldest monastery by Lama SangayDorjee. The grand statue of Shakya Muni Buddha was the attraction, and his life story was there as the reflection of life also called as “Kala Chakra” from the fierce form to peaceful cue as dhayana in those master piece.

We had an interesting discussion about Kumari, monks and Nuns. There was a strenuous selection procedure for the Kumari girl. She should have physical characteristics including radiant skin with no birthmarks, blemishes or scars, the chest of a lion, a neck like a conch shell, eyelashes like a cow, body like a banyan tree, thighs of a deer and a voice that is clear and soft like a duck’s. Families used to offer their second sons or daughters to become monks and nuns, but the Buddhist traditions have changed dramatically. Chuck would have been the luckiest father if he were able to see his daughter as the Kumari.

December 22, 2018 Saturday Dingboche (4530 m)

Early morning I sneaked around the monastery. I took my best picture of the monastery chanting “Om Mane Padme Hum” for some minutes. I requested that they join me for meditation. It was bone chilling cold. Elizabeth was trying to concentrate. Just for a couple of minutes they performed it perfectly. Meditation is discipline and you have to believe in it. Con calma, Anna Blake was also interested. I wished I could have taken classes. With the blessings of Buddha, we continued to walk and it was slightly slippery because of snow.

When Anna Blake was inquiring about the next day ‘s adventure, I tried a more subtle approach: “Expect the unexpected.” Do not reveal everything about the trails. She was more than happy when she was warmly welcomed at Cafe 4000 with wifi and coffee.

December 23, 2018 Sunday Dingboche (4530 m)

This was a beautiful morning after a nice sleep after an exhausting walk above 4000 m. Everyone were relaxed at breakfast since this day was only for acclimatization. The more you walk high in the mountains the more you get acclimatization. After leisurely breakfast we went to Lobuche. The steep walk was strenuous. Anna Blake shared about her creative writing skills and had a dream of publishing a book. A dog was following her and she fell in love quickly.

Needless to say, the steep walk was tiring, however, coming down was always pleasurable. We made a good pace, and DK with all the ladies went up to see the higher mountains and we waited for them sometime. Chuck was happy and asked me if I didn’t wish to bring my daughter up to the Everest. I couldn’t wait to say yes. My daughter and niece will fall in love with bewitching mountains I am certain.

All gathered for another delicious meal at our own “Bright Star”. Everyone enjoyed playing snooker, reading books or chatting. As always I met a gentleman, Arjun, who was more talkative than I especially with girls from his mobile phone. Along with his colleagues, we were listening to romantic conversation and different terminology. I realized that he is so kind in fact, he had helped many kids who were orphans from his own village Dhading, especially in the aftermath of the earthquakes.

December 24, 2018 Monday Lobuche (5030 m)

A little earlier than usual we checked out from the hotel so that we could reach our destination for lunch,Thukla, and for a quiet time in Memorial Park. We continued our journey but with a good spirit. I was not cynical that walking is not easy. I told myself that enjoying a uniform pace is better than any competition. Looking at the gigantic mountains Lhotse, Amadablam, Chola Valley made everyone dream of many things. Sydney was telling about her days in Costa Rica learning Spanish, having fun and enjoying the natural beauty.

We took a short but needed break at the the only lunch point. Nepali DaalBhat was just amazing and everyone was appreciating “DaalBhaat Power – twenty four hour”. I happened to meet my old colleague Ambir. He is already married and very responsible, unlike earlier days when he was relaxing and drinking a lot. We enjoyed talking about our golden days. It was revealed that our friend, Sanokancha, who was very famous for dancing and making jokes all the time had passed away, but his siblings were taken care of by his US godfather who came to trek along with him two times. Thanks God that his two sons were lucky despite their father’ s demise. We shared our contacts to get in touch again later.

Chuck became emotional looking at Scott Fisher’ s memorial at Memorial park at ChupkiLhara just after some walk from Dhukla lunch station. The book,Into Thin Air,which chronicles the disaster on Everest in 1996 gives us all goosebumps. We paid our respects to those who died on Mt. Everest. No doubt it is also a warning to those who attempt to climb the mountain.

On Christmas Eve everyone gathered around the heater. Anna Blake ,Chuck and Sarah started singing Christmas songs and others enjoyed mouthwatering hot chocolate.Pradipand Maila sung together for some time. DK and I learned about playing the card game Spoons. You need to arrange four clubs or diamonds or kingsand and grab the spoon before anyone else. Sarah, the youngest but smartest, became the number one.

Sherpa Dai was talking about his strong clients who came directly from Thangboche to Lobuchewithout haltingat Dingboche. I joined the club and shared my experience about a Sherpa friend who distracted with a small reason, they have short temper and at times, they ride on you a lot. Everyone was laughing as he confirmed he was not from Khumjung. Later on, I wanted to relax and do some meditation.

December 25, 2018 Tuesday Gorakshep (5200 m) Kalapatther (5700 m) Everest Base Camp (5205 m)

The next everyone was in good shape. With quick breakfast we didn’t look back but only ahead trying to reach the summit as soon as possible. Elizabeth was happy as soon we started this adventure, meeting local people, enjoying black coffee or playing game with strangers at Namche. She told me she loved mountains, but more importantly the people and culture. She thanked her father from the bottom of her heart who tried to connect her with Nepal.

We encountered many people over here, weather was just perfect only the oxygen level was 60%, hence, we had to concentrate on our walking rather than talking.

After 3 hours of flat walking we reached Gorakshep. We were warmly welcomed by hot soup and a nice lunch and everyone got surprised seeing a bunch of tourists who were talking about adventure while waiting for the lunch.

After a quick rest we continued to Kalapatar. The most adventurous man, Chuck, was in a hurry as he was checking forecast time and again. Slowly but steadily after 2 hours we reached the top were we could see the mighty peaks of Everest, Pumori, and the Khumbu Glacier. We took selfies and many more photos to spread the message of peace throughthe mountains. How amazing !!!

The decision maker Sydney then led everyone to Everest Base Camp. We continued without any halt towards Base camp and after 2 hours, we were able to make it. We couldn’t stay longer but made our footprints with many pictures at that special time.

December 26, 2018 Wednesday Pangboche (3985 m)

We had a long sleep as we did both herculean jobs yesterday. It’s our day to climb down. We gradually started going down being mindful of the very rocky walk.

We didn’t wanted to say good bye to Hotel Himalaya at Gorakshep but we are obliged to do so. Pradip was feeling comfortable with less luggage but our pace was good. He told me that he found tourism the best job compared to his friends hardships in Qatar. He was dedicated to save as much as possible so that his disabled sister and little brother could continue their school.Itried to console him and help him. I imagined he might be able to guide more tourists and earn a lot.

After leisure lunch everyone enjoyed the walk. Sarah couldn’t stop taking pictures of nice small streams and golden mountains. Elizabeth was enjoying her own pace and Anna Blake was calling Taylor Swift with her song “you belong with me” and remembering her boyfriend.

Chuck showed us the lenticular clouds that were surrounding Everest which herald a change in the weather. Being a galaxy enthusiast I listened quietly and couldn’t agree more the weather forecast predicting difficult days ahead. He was saying that weather was going to change drastically and it can be really hairy for the trekkers out there. Oh ! I was so grateful for the lovely weather till now, and I believed on the Buddha s blessing from Thangboche Monastery.

Everyone seemed to be happy as it was not tedious work today .It was a 7 hours walk as we came down from Gorakshep to Pangboche where we had to rest. Anna Blake claimed that it was the best day as we climbed down from 5500 to 4000m with no thin air and no bone chilling cold. We encountered an Afghani who seemed to be perplexed about his friends delay. We tried to contact his guide but without success. He told his story about his brother in the US and the one studyingfor his MBA in Delhi. Life is a learning process. I was not shocked but he revealed he had saved enough for this dream adventure for 5 years. I could not thank him enough for respecting his real love to Nepal. Even during aftermath of the earthquakes, he had donated. He asked me about the route and questioned if we meet their colleagues en route. I assured him that he should halt at this Eco Holiday Lodge and they would show up for sure. Soon after their colleagues came up.

December 27, 2018 Thursday Namche (3440 m)

Sarah didn’t wanted to bid farewell to the kind Tibetan Mastiff in the early morning, but we were obliged to do so. We started our journey without any delay. Some gradual downhill walk made us feel comfortable. The trail was neither steep nor flat and everyone was happy following it toThyangboche. We happened to meet a student who was holding a hockey stick. It was amazing to know about this game by words of mouth though he insisted to see on google. We have endless opportunities to know about anything, but we forget about telling directly, this is the problems of this Tech world. And, there were people with whom I asked if they were playing at the base camp. We wished they could have gone there earlier to avoid freezing cold. Nevertheless we continued our walk.

Chuck was explaining how American football has made him crazy supporting their own Carolina Panthers. I came to know most of the hulk and ironman could play the game but I was excited to hear Sarah and Elizabeth and Sydney were the school champions in running. I love contact games a lot. The excitement in those Carolina Panthers I noticed en route to Namche, where they saw a girl while their cap and the logo. They became excited asking about the match and schedule.

Once we crossed the check point at PungiTenga after Thangboche, (a sacred place for blessing), we descended down. Of course, it is not a tough job butwe needed to be cautious on the slippery trails. Chuck noticed beautiful prayers wheel were saying “blessings and glory be to our God forever and ever. Amen !”. We could have stayed and enjoyed the meal and Anna Blake could have done the meditation a little while. She told methe last time at the same place, something went out from her mind- problems and miseries. We have been taught in our meditation to see everything on the positive note. I tried to appraise the same feeling to her, it worked somewhat as I see the green grass on both sides. Mr. Positive, sometimes my friends tag me. May be they are flattering, but I do my best to be positive though it is not good all the times.

After crossing a long suspension bridge, I happened to meet a Sanyasi who was coined “Dadatedex” Never heard about him but appreciated his short saying “Change is inevitable”
Anna Blake gave me a bit of dark chocolate and all of us tried to get rid of dehydration, drinking water and all. I managed to go on without any halt.
We called it off season but here you see herds of Yaks carrying food, young chaps running and the beautiful weather………… 🙂

After a nice lunch I was amazed at a mysterious math game by Chuck. I wish I could teach it to my crazy nephews. Our daalbhaat was getting cold so we again concentrated on our food. Chuck observed the white clouds which brought slight snowfall after our departure from lunch station. We continued quietly as it was flat.

What a splendid day at the end we enjoyed a brownie from the Everest bakery !

December 28, 2018 Friday Lukla (2855 m)

This was a pretty long walk about 8 hours, however, after ascending almost 6000 m, everyone was not concerned about the long and tiring walk. At Top Danda, where we had our nice clicks while ascending, I happen to meet an old Sherpa couple, I was stunned as they were trying hard to go down with heavy loads, one of the boy assisted him finally. He said they could have flown from Namche by helicopter since they were rich hoteliers and most of the family are abroad. The old man knows the value of money. I agreed with young man but really appreciated how he values of everything. I thought why people think everything for comfortable, does not want hardship. All of us are attracted to modern amenities and luxuries: private cars, bikes, I phone, Facebook. It is possible to live with basic facilities and simple things. When Sarah said “Jam Jam” – Let’s go… I came into present form and continued walking without a delay.

I was engrossed in our previous conversation. The pace was just good enough. We were on riverside walk beside the DudhKoshi and were not disturbed by its roaring, hence, everyone was calm and quiet. We just passed through Benkar, where the young boys were playing football. I requested if I could play with them, and yes, I was able to score the goal. Energetic Pasang said I was like his elder brother Namgyal, who played very well. He told me to teach them. Needless to say, I was not good at football, but still I could have taught as I was interested to teach any…..But,I was late as always and my friends were ahead, so, said goodbye to them but those small memories will endure through times.

I asked Elizabeth if she could stay at village and teach them. She was quite interested, may be after her Masters or so on. She was amazed with the colors of life. Everyone was observing the hardship of life in the mountains. A small kid was with his father with herds of Yaks passing through us with supplies. I tried to speak with him but he didn’t understand well. His father said while coming down, it is good but while going to Namche with heavy loads, it is exhausting.

We reached to our lunch station at Phakding. One could not speak a lot with empty stomach “I am angry when I am hungry” one of my Finnish client used to say. Hence, we got the special and quick lunch. Everyone wanted to bask in the sun and there were no hurries to reach Lukla, so, we were relaxed for sometime. Anna Blake was inquiring what “chang” was with Chuck as they wanted to try Nepali rice wine at Lukla. It is universal everyone gets curious for new thing/food. He shared his experience of having it and the golden days of Nepal.

The weather was a bit chilly. Clouds were scattered, but still, we observed blue sky at some places. I was worried about next day ‘s weather forecast. It said cloudy, maybe we could get more delays. I was praying time and again and listening to the clouds (no storms at all).

As the adventure was almost completed after reaching LuklaI could see the happiness on Sarah’s face.

December 29, 2018 Saturday Kathmandu (1400 m)

After a nice sleep everyone was super excited to be back to Kathmandu where one can have some relaxing time and final shopping. We walked to the airport which is just close by. Needless to say, the farewell to mountains was not easy for Chuck as I noticed but still, we have to go ahead. Sydney was the happiest because soon she will be meeting her special boyfriend. After some wait atthe airport, our flight came on time and Captain Poudel took off slowly. The weather was cool. As soon as they checked in at the hotel we had a nice meeting together with Gajendra Sir. Chuck expressed his desire to go to Pokhara and relax someday. Gajendratalked about the tourism and told him to help by word of mouth which is the best marketing tool and genuine as well.

We planned to meet tomorrow for visits to Kathmandu and Patan.

December 30, 2018 Sunday Kathmandu (1400 m)

After a lovely breakfast they were ready for the cultural tour starting from Bungamati, where, Chuck previously spent time in 1986. He used to spend quiet relaxing time with my father David and his family. I could see his tears in his heart. You can not describe in any words. Anna Blake was observing the moments closely and I thought she will write a book soon. Being a creative writing student, I wish her all the best !!!

We had a nice discussion about Buddhism where Chuck remembered his days working ata misson hospital and the beautiful mountains around Bungamati.

December 31, 2018 Monday Departure

As they had leisure time in the morning, they enjoyed talking about the very beginning of the year 2019 at home. Needless to say, all were excited for meeting their family soon. Elizabeth was more emotional. With the best wishes from Nepal’ s auspicious Khada and new year greetings, they went back with fond of memories……….. Hasta la Vista !!!