- Starting elevation: 15,157 ft / 4,620 m
- Ending elevation: 16,142 ft / 4,920 m
- Elevation change: +985 ft / 300 m
- Starting oxygen: 58% of sea level
- Ending oxygen: 56% of sea level
- Distance covered: 2.2 mi / 3.5 km
- Time hiked: 1 h 45 m
Day eight on the trail and I recapturing the joy that comes with putting substantial distance between myself and “the world”.
My seven o'clock wake-up seems late compared to sunrise. Tomorrow I will wake up earlier (an empty promise based on possible futures that will fail to come to fruition).
I gulp down my morning liter of water with a breakfast of vegetables and sauceless pasta noodles alongside Bain and Sara (who have decided to head back down to Lukla and meet their group in Kathmandu).
Franklin tells me he'll be heading up to Gorak Shep and possibly Everest Base Camp today. I on the other hand, have a lot more time than anticipated (I don't know what I thinking whilst planning this), and so I plan on stopping at Lobuche (the next village on-trail).
Once again the skies are a magnificent blue without a single cloud in sight.
However, the weather has decided to become consistently cold, and I keep my synthetic base layers on for the third day in a row (to be honest I haven't even taken them off since putting them on in Dingboche).
I put on my down jacket and take off from Dughla up Thokla Pass towards Lobuche. Forty minutes and 623 ft / 190 m later, I'm at the top.
That wasn't so bad (the jacket came off halfway through the climb).
With the toughest part of my day's hike behind me, I sit down on the improvised stone benches and wonder what I am going to do with myself when I get to Lobuche. Yak riding? Nepalese studying? Altitude sickness getting? Too much excitement.
Soon, a lone Italian backpacker heading south back to Dingboche shows up to keep me company for a bit. After exhausting his English, but not before telling me not to expect any snow between here and EBC, he continues on his way, leaving me alone with the field of memorials atop the pass.
It's still early so I decide to linger a bit longer and explore the plateau.
As I peruse the many monuments and plaques erected here to honor fallen climbers and failed expeditions, a lone dog wanders up from the south of the pass and plops himself down in the middle of the trail.
Hey there pup.
A few minutes later, hiker number two of the day appears (and he's using my old pack). He's also from Southern California, and (respectfully) finds little interest in making friends with another Californian on the other side of the world. I get it.
He heads off north and the dog picks up following him. I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little sad the dog didn't choose to hang out with me instead.
I'm so lonely.
Bored of sitting around and staring at the most glorious mountains of my wildest imagination (I don't miss trees in the slightest), I head over the pass as the trail continues northward to meet and follow the Khumbu Glacier.
The northern end of the Khumbu Glacier is home to Everest Base Camp and the path up the Earth's tallest peak. I could probably make it there today if I really wanted to.
The hike now flattens out quite a bit, and after a short downhill, I'm heading up through a valley passing herds of pack animals and porters headed the opposite direction. The tour group cycle continues as people are pumped up and down the mountain.
Thirty minutes later and I'm standing in Lobuche.
It's only 11:00.
Back in Phakding on day one, another hiker gave me a recommendation on where to stay here – the Sherpa Lodge (one of many similarly named lodges along the trek).
He is one of maybe five other solo hikers I've met on this trek and so I decide to trust his judgment based only on this fact (because why not?).
I debate whether or not I want to spend the night (and the rest of the day) in Lobuche, but again, seeing as how I still have plenty of time, I decide to take it easy and save Gorak Shep and Everest Base Camp for tomorrow.
The Sherpa Lodge looks decent enough.
I drop my pack, drink another liter of water, eat a quick Snickers/Clif bar lunch, and decide to go exploring (in lieu of paying $10 to hang out and use the wi-fi with everyone in the lodge).
Outside the lodge I again meet Patrick, the SoCal hiker from the top of Thokla Pass. This time, he's a bit more keen on chatting with his Californian brethren. He'll be sticking around Lobuche for the night and also staying at the Sherpa Lodge. We talk briefly before I head off to kill time on my own.
Just north the lodge there's a ridge that looks like it offers some good views of Awi Peak and some of the others surrounding Lobuche. Sounds like a fantastic way to occupy my afternoon.
Fifty minutes later and I've scrambled my way to the top (not really the afternoon-occupying adventure that I had in mind).
No matter, probably a good time to take some jumping photos.
Sliding back down the hillside, I head back to the lodge where I busily write postcards (been thinking about letting people request them here) as the place fills with hikers from further down the mountain.
I order a small thermos of hot water for 300 rupees / ~$3 US (because drinking hot water in the Himalaya is the cool thing to do) along with a potato and vegetable dinner for 550 rupees / ~$5.50 US.
Patrick joins me, but we are soon kicked off our table so that a tour group can be accompanied.
This infuriates me to the point of me considering not paying my tab when I leave tomorrow. If there's one thing I hate about the EBC trek up until now it's having to deal with tour groups (but mostly their guides) and being treated differently because I'm not paying one of the lodge owner's friends hundreds of dollars to do something I'm capable of doing on my own.
These groups are consistently given priority as solo hikers are pushed aside and not tended to until the groups are satisfied. And this behavior is not unique to the Sherpa Lodge of Lobuche. I've already encountered similar behavior from groups in both Namche and Dingboche.
Since I'm not a complete shithead (at least not tonight) I pay my tab to keep myself from buying anything else or considering eating breakfast here.
Patrick and I head outside where we talk about night hiking to Gorak Shep.
Ultimately, I decide that hiking up another 656 ft / 200 m and risking altitude sickness (don't know if this is a possibility at this point, but after seeing Bain and Sara turn back yesterday, I'm not taking any chances) is not worth the trip tonight – no matter how bitter I am about my treatment at the lodge.
I head to my cigarette-smelling room where I open the window and am unable to find my headlamp. Did I leave it in Dughla?
Don't really care.