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					            Everest region (Sagarmatha National Park) Trek
                       29th April to 6th May, 2007
     Intended route Kathmandu; Luka; Monjo; Namche Bazar; Tengboche;
                        Namche; Luka; Kathmandu

Part 1: Lukla to Namche

After a harrowing flight, literally straight into a mountain side, in pea soup
conditions, we arrived at Lukla. It was like stepping back in time. No roads,
just mountain paths. The only way to get goods and people up and through
these mountains is on foot. These small, gracious, Sherpa people carry
everything on their backs. As we started strolling down the path, a young
woman passed us carrying 8 x 10 litre containers of fuel. Another person had 10
crates of beer. Yet another was carrying great beams of timber.

The boys (we trekked with an American family with two kids – who we had met
in Kathmandu) ran on ahead, so excited to finally get going on our big trek. The
mountain path is cut into the hillside, look up towards forest and snow peaked
mountains, look down to steep gorges with fast flowing rivers.

Parts of the path have been washed away from monsoonal rains and have been
upgraded with local stone. Each stone is carried, by back, from the quarry
(where it is dug out by hand), then it is chiseled until it fits the jigsaw pattern of
the path. All the stones are then chipped away and pounded, by hand, until they
fit together snugly. When you think of the labour involved it makes you very
grateful for each step. After a good 3 hours of walking up and down all
afternoon we decided to stay the night at a delightful village called Phakting, or
as Harry called it, “Farting”.

You couldn’t have asked for a more picturesque setting. Soaring, snow-capped,
mountain peaks, exquisite turquoise/blue, river, gushing over big round
boulders, colourful, Tibeten prayer flags (hundreds of them) flapped in the
breeze as they draped across the narrow valley and hung from vertiguous,
suspension bridges. We sat down to a well-deserved meal, the children taught
the porters how to play UNO (which they became addicted to) and then we
headed to bed, our sleeping bags, for an early night.

The next day was a grueling 6-7 hour trek, at least 6 river crossings, culminating
with a 1,000’ climb. Towards the end, I wasn’t sure the little one’s would make it
(let alone the big one’s!) As we passed trekkers on their way down, most would
offer their encouragement and congratulations for bringing the children on such
a wonderful experience, others muttered “idiots” under their breath as they
rushed past.

Then at our final resting point we met a motley group of middle aged English
guys from a Welsh walking group. Their leader, Chris Brown, had climbed
Everest some time ago and had promised to bring his mate and friends to Everest
base camp. Chris seemed to be taken with Harry and the two struck up a
conversation. (They had their photo taken together later when we reached
Namche.) This spurred Harry on no end, and we managed to inch our way up
the windy mountain track, finally entering the gates and welcoming Gompu of
Namche, quite late in the afternoon.

All the Everest climbers have to stop here, at Namche Bazar, for a day to allow
for altitude adjustment, to see if their bodies can cope with the lack of oxygen).
Namche is about 11,500 ft. (To let you know in flying it is mandatory to carry
oxygen above 10,000 ft. Light aircraft are therefore never allowed to go beyond
10,000 ft limit.)

A well deserved day of rest followed. The kids played and we all mooched
around this fantastic bazaar village. (It reminded me of Morocco.) We visited
the museum, the army post, tried to see Everest, but as usual it was shrouded in
mist and cloud, visited the monastery and had a lovely time laughing with the
Monk. He blessed us all and garlanded us with beautifully twined string from
the Dalai Lama.

One of the American children had been showing signs of altitude sickness all
day, so it was decided that she couldn’t go any higher. Actually if the symptoms
continued she would have to descend. My knee (the one that our cow had
kicked around Xmas) had been playing up, so I offered to stay in Namche and
mind all the kids while the American parents went on to Tengboche Monastery
as planned. As Tengboche was another 1,000’ min climb, the kids were quite
agreeable to stay together. Mark decided to head in the other direction, towards
the Tibetan border, to visit another Buddhist monastery that he had an interest
in. (I agreed, if he would take one of the porters with him.)

The next night at Namche was a full moon. One of the most magical scenes I
have witnessed. Clear pyramid (crystal) shaped mountains soaring up and up
and up with a full moon shining down onto an amazing sherpa village,
somehow situated in a mountain side... and I was here...with my family! I
vowed to all that I would be up at 4.30 am to witness sunrise from the lookout, a
further 500 ft up, from where Mt Everest and it's sister mountains can be clearly

At 5.00 am the next morning the only person fit and willing to accompany me on
the climb for sunrise over Everest was ..... Harry! He sprinted out of bed, pulled
on all of his thermal clothes and walking boots. Off we set hand-in-hand, early
morning mist coming out of our mouths as we puffed our way up to the look
out. The lookout happens to also be the Nepalese Army's post to protect itself
from an invasion from China. We were the first to the check point as the soldiers
changed guards. Fresh snow crunched under our feet and I held Harry's hand
tightly, both to warm it (he didn't have gloves on) and to share the excitement we
were both feeling. The sun's glows were lighting the mountains up like giant
candles, one at a time.

We finally made it to the top and just stood, mesmerized by the absolute beauty
around us. Mountains, almost as big as Everest, surrounded us. As we looked
towards Everest there was a plateau and on the plateau sits one of Nepal's largest
monasteries, Tengboche (where we were meant to trek to). Below Tengboche ran
the mighty Duhd River, which we had been traversing during our trek up.
Duhd means milk.

Not for the first time during this trek I closed my eyes and meditated, taking my
awareness inside. As I opened my eyes there it was beaming with white light…
pure white light of this amazing snow capped mountain peak. Everest.

Harry and I both blessed the World by doing a lovely yoga sequence called
“Salute to the four Directions” and finished by sending peace and light from the
top of the World. It felt very relevant and powerful. We finished in silence just
watching the majesty of the continuing sunrise over this Mother of the World.
(Mt Everest's true names are, in Nepali "Sagarmatha" and in Tibeten
"Jomolungma" . By amazing coincidence they both refer to "Goddess Mother of
the World".

Little Harry was feeling the cold and as we descended the lookout others were
starting to walk up. Already clouds had begun to gather around the peak of
Everest. (This happens most days so visibility of Everest as clearly as we saw it
is rare.) We continued in silence until we traversed to the Namche Monastery,
where I sat and meditated for a little longer, just to keep that very special
experience, before joining the others back down in the village.

Part 2 Namche Bazar – Lukla

A busy morning moving the American kids into our room, Wendy and Sean
preparing for their trek to Tengboche Monastery, Mark preparing for his trek in
the opposite direction to Lama Zopa’s Monastery. The children and I decided to
accompany Mark up past the Namche Monastery to see him off. As we reached
the crest of the hill and turned the corner that led to Mark’s path, we were met
with the spectacular sight of an amazing waterfall, cascading down from the
melting ice, atop the mountain.

Fare welling Mark, we looked back down to Namche village – such a pretty
setting. We decided to circumambulate the monastery, turning the prayer
wheels as we went, then all piled into the Namche monastery. The monk was
still chanting his morning prayers and his eyes gently peeked open to watch as
Harry and Quinn took up their position on the meditation mats. (We had visited
the monastery the previous day, which was Buddha’s birthday. The monastery
was aglow with hundred’s of butter lamps. The boys looked like two little
monks as they sat between the butter lamps and the golden statues of the
Buddha.) I sat to meditate. In time I thought I heard the monk actually speeding
up his chanting. I glanced his way and saw him watching the children but still
turning the pages of his teachings.

As he finished his chanting he motioned to the children and one at a time they
knelt in front of him to receive their blessed Dalai Lama necklaces. He then
invited us to see the rest of the monastery.

We were led up some very narrow, steep, wooden stairs where he showed us his
quarters. Honestly, this space was no bigger than a closet (even smaller than
Harry Potter’s cupboard beneath the stairs!). The bed was a wooden bench that
was not long enough for a child to stretch their legs, let alone a grown (largish)
man; a couple of shelves and a few blankets… that was it. He then led us up
more stairs to a very special part of the monastery. It was much more ornate
than the public space below, beautiful golden Buddha’s, Tibetan thanka
paintings and murals decorated the room.

The girls were gob smacked. The boys headed straight for the Tibetan musical
instruments, giant symbols, drums and horns. They intimated they would like to
play, so he kindly showed the boys and let them try each instrument – several
times. I noticed a very large picture of the Dalai Lama and pondered for a
moment how just over the mountains to our left the Tibetan people would be
thrown in gaol by the Chinese for having such a photograph. (It reminded me of
a visit to one of the children’s homes in Kathmandu when the children sang us a
Nepali song. I asked for the translation and they said it was a song about the
Chinese invading Tibet and how the Nepali’s don’t want the Chinese to invade

We finally exhausted our visit to the Namche Monastery. I do believe the monk
had a great time with the children. He seems to live a very solitary, lonely life in
the monastery. We promised to send him photographs – he was delighted.

The rest of the day was spent shopping by the girls (they became known as the
sister shoppers of Namche, having visited every stall and priced every item in
the whole of Namche Bazar). The boys played all day with two bamboo sticks.

That evening the children met up with the only other western child at Namche.
Her name was Sarah Hall, a 10 year old New Zealander. She had just been to
Everest Base Camp with her mother, uncle and grand parents! Apparently she is
the daughter of the famous NZ Rob Hall, who was the star of the book and film
“Into Thin Air”. Her dad died on Everest on his 5th climb, her mum was 7 months
pregnant with Sarah when Rob died. This was their 10 year return to Everest
base camp to meet with other trekkers from that fateful Everest expedition to
honour those that had died climbing the Mountain. What an amazing 10 year
old she is. I asked her if she was going to climb Everest, her mother and father
both having done so. She said “I suppose so”. Keep an eye out for her.

The next day saw a tired Wendy and Sean return in time for lunch. Mark had
returned also only to realize he still had the keys to the monastery and to Lama
Zopa’s meditation cave. He asked the porter if he would go back to return them,
which he did – running the whole way there and back in a record 2 hours, 15
mins (this had been a 3 ½ hour trek one way for Mark).

The group, together again, started our long descent from Namche to Monzu
where we stayed in some magnificent cabins, hanging off the edge of an
embankment. Poor Wendy, who was ill with Guardia, just lay down in relief
after so much arduous walking.
That evening I met a lovely young Nepali man, who had a degree in Computer
Science from Colorado University. He had been living in the U.S. for 5 years and
was returning back to Namche Bazar to see his family. While in the U.S. he
raised over US$60,000 to create a community Library and buy books for the
school at Namche. What an amazing young man. He is now living back in
Nepal. Although he is earning less than 1/10th his U.S. salary he loves his country
and wants to be near his family.

The next day we snaked our way up and up and up, back to Lukla where we
finally arrived at our hotel. Hot (well not cold) showers all around, tips for the
porters and a wonderful Nepali meal with everyone.

Up early the next morning for our hair raising but spectacular flight back to our
temporary home, Kathmandu. As we peered out of our little plane, the majestic,
snow covered Himalayan range accompanied us all the way back to Kathmandu.
We were all silent as we absorbed the memories and images of this amazing