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The final days of the trek – we were now heading south with upcoming campsites or lodge accommodation in Lumde (also called Lungden), Namche (2 nights), Phakding, and Lukla before boarding an early morning flight back to Kathmandu.
Day 15: Gokyo Over Renzo La to Lungden
“Homeward bound!” That thought was foremost in my mind as we left Gokyo. We’d been on the trek for two weeks – and before that, I had spent almost three weeks in the Annapurna region doing the circuit there.
As we started our climb up to the east side of Renjo La, I turned around and got a clear view of Everest, Nuptse, and Lhotse in the distance. From Renjo La it is 25 kilometers in a straight line to Mt. Everest. I also got a different perspective of Gokyo Lake #3, the small collection of lodges, and the Glacier just below us.
We left the lodge at 8:oo a.m. and just after 11:00 we were up at the pass,; the ascent had for the most part been fairly gradual. The steep part would be coming up immediately after heading down the other side!
Again- the weather gods smiled on us as we dealt with the last of the high passes. As the pix show, we had a perfect day to make the ascent to the pass from our Gokyo lodge. The views of Everest and the mountains and glaciers we had walked over to get to Renjo La did not stop being stupendous. (My Brit fellow-trekkers were big on the word “brilliant”; I used the perhaps more North American “wow” and “holy moly” to give inadequate sound to the feeling of looking back and seeing what the pix show.)
At the top of the pass, we met a couple of dogs. I named the brown one Bhikku and the black one Renjo. They would join our caravan for the rest of the day. They were in good physical shape and seemed well-fed; they were not shy and took the ear scratches I offered with no complaints. They did score some scraps at lunchtime on the other side of the pass- and the cooks also put out something for them after supper.
BTW- bhikku is a Pali term to describe a Buddhist monk, whose daily food requirements are met by villagers who put food in his bowl as he wanders down the roads of life. These dogs were providing us with an opportunity to gain easy merit (i.e. karma points) by giving them food. Definitely a win-win for all concerned!
We stopped for lunch at the tent spot just above Relama Tsho.
Our day ended around 2:30 and we set up camp behind a lodge in Lungden (Lumde).
Day 16- Lumde To Namche
Probably the easiest day of the entire trek – our walk down to Namche! We left around 8:00 and just south of the settlement crossed the Bhote Kosi on a simple bridge.
We would remain on the west side of the river until just south of Thame.
In the satellite image below the trail is visible; we came at it from the bottom right and followed it right past the side trail up to the Kerok Gompa. The river bed was fairly dry and the Bhote Kosi a mere trickle of what it would be earlier in the year.
We passed by Kerok about 90 minutes after our start from Lungden. It is a small settlement most famous for its monastery, which was established around 1650 and is one of the oldest in the Khumbu region. The ten monks there belong to the oldest of Tibetan Buddhism’s four major sects, that of the Nyingma. This is the Buddhist sect that the Sherpas of the Khumbu belong to. [The Dalia Lama is the head of the Gelugpa branch.] [See here for a webpage on the various monasteries of the Khumbu region, including Kyarok Gompa.]
We continued on down along the west bank of the river past more fields and stone houses.
Not far from Kerok we stopped to take a look at the roadside chorten. For the locals, the structure is heavily laden with symbolism, right up to the spire with its thirteen rings, the parasol above, and finally the semi-circular moon and the sun on top representing our life goal – enlightenment. As we had learned very early on in the trek, one always passes on the left side of a chorten or a row of prayer wheels.
Not too soon afterward we stopped for some tea and drinks at this house. Some of the crew took advantage of the ground covering and the warm sun to relax a bit. Not too far away were yak poop patties either drying in the sun or already dried and stacked and ready for storage.
Back on the trail, we continued our downward descent and our approach to Thame. We had definitely lost some altitude over the past 24 hours when we were at Renjo La. The alpine had been replaced by scrubland and now more vegetation was starting to appear.
- Renjo La 5360m
- Lumde 4380
- Kerok 3940 ?
- Thame 3884m
We walked by a trekkers’ lodge under construction on the trail to Thame from Lungden. Given that quite a few buildings in the Bhote Kosi valley suffered extensive damage due to the 2015 Gorka earthquakes, in the years since I’ve occasionally wondered if this one managed to escape unscathed.
A Renowned Siddhi?
I am guessing that the figure below is a revered – and, given the white hair, elder – siddhi from the Nyingma tradition.
- The hands and feet are awkwardly drawn, with the position of the leg implying a seated and not a lotus position.
- In his right hand is a short chain, perhaps symbolizing freeing oneself from the endless cycle of samsara;
- nestled in his left hand is a medicine bowl containing the Jewel of Buddhism, the cure for the human condition.
- His ample belly fat brings to mind a representation of the Hindu god Ganesha.
If you know the story behind this figure, please let me know in the comments below.
Back To Namche
Day 17: Rest Day In Namche
Day 18: Namche To Phakding
Day 19: Phakding To Lukla
As we entered Lukla the big topic was the weather and whether it would hold. We had heard the stories of trekkers stranded in Lukla for days because the planes could not land because of bad weather.
Day 20: Flight Back To Kathmandu
After a night at a Lukla lodge, we headed for the airstrip. To the very last day our luck had held- by noon we were back in Kathmandu, blown away by the transition from one superlative to another- from our fantastic walk through and over the best of the Khumbu back to the great valley we now landed in, with its cultural highlights like Bodhnath and Swayambhu and Bhaktapur…another post or two will explore the city that I think is the most amazing expression of human culture. More “wow” to come See the end of this post for more!
If you’ve stumbled into this mess of words and pix and actually read all the way to this point, well – first of all, “Congratulations!” and secondly, you might want to check out the previous posts of the trek:
- The High Passes of Everest: Lukla to Namche Days 1 – 3
- The High Passes of Everest: Namche To Chhukung – Days 4 – 7
- The High Passes of Everest: Chhukhung to Everest via Kongma La Days 8 – 10
- The High Passes of Everest: Lobuche to the Kokyo Lakes Via Cho La Days 11 – 14