Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Day 16: Back to Namche

Tengboche (3867m) → Namche Bazaar (3440m)

Short day to Namche! Two more bloody walking days! Two pack-ups!

Morning – in the Tengboche lodge that somehow managed to be both nicer and crappier than where we'd been staying. I think it was modern enough to elevate it to the feel of maybe an actual hotel. But that made it a really shitty hotel. Still rough, but without the charm of the teahouses at the higher elevations.

That aside, Darby commented on the finer points of the joinery in the handmade doors, and explained how carting drywall up here would make no sense – it's heavier, too subject to damp – and how by contrast plywood comes in bricks and is man-portable.

Me: “And, just as with Mark, you definitely notice things that other trekkers do not… And I benefit.”

Here's that famous monastery we toured last night, in the morning light on our way out of Dodge.

All the fresh-faced FNGs on their way up have no idea what they're in for…

In retrospect, we'd basically been trekking through a cloud bank at the bottom of the valley for most of yesterday, so all the photos were dull and washed out. Nice that the sun was back today – this looks more like the bright and stark Khumbu we'd come to love.

Tea stop. Epic excretion in leaf-filled outhouse. Heartburn all the way down my gastrointestinal tract.

When I got back – from what was, seriously, a large outhouse inexplicably filled with giant piles of leaves – I declared to the others:

Me: “That's it: I am officially done with rice and potatoes.”

I was currently paying the price for a big breakfast of thick toast, baked beans, pineapple jam, fried potatoes, and muesli.

And then! – buying stuff! We were far enough back down that we could reasonably carry some; and also far enough down that people were trying to sell it to us. There was a cute little shop here where I picked up a couple of bits, including sherpa hats for my nephews.

Both the shop and the restaurant with its patio were seeing a fairly brisk trade, at least by our recent standards, with sizeable groups coming in and out and mooching about.

Darby: “This really is a superhighway.”
Me: “Yet it's interesting to note that neither of us had ever been anywhere this rugged, remote, or dramatic before two weeks ago.”

And off. Last little amble. Although it's worth noting that descending was by no means the same as never climbing. Aakash described it as “Nepali flat” – constant up and down. Just, thank god, more down.

And thus back to Namche – a short day, as promised – and good ole Mountain Dreams, which was now empty (even later in the season), clean, and warm. Very clean, and very warm, compared to what we'd had since last here. Which seemed like a million years ago.

Empty! Clean! So clean Amenities! Civilisation! Yay
Like stepping back into a past life. Definitely feeling very reflective.
Me: “This is it. Only one more day.”
Aakash: “Tomorrow will be good. And every day after that.”
Me: “You've got a good attitude, my friend. And with a good attitude, everything is manageable. Without, everything is a problem. Believe me, I know.”

I gave Aakash one of my cards, and told him his would live forever inside my copy of the Dalai Lama's book.

Aakash: “As a bookmark?”
Me: “As a reminder.”
He hefts his pack, goes out the door, and climbs the stairs, heartily and mellifluously singing the bit of song he's been happily and unashamedly solo'ing on the trail since the beginning.
Tomorrow, Day Seventeen – Plus Days N+1 Through N+4: Back to Lukla, Back to Kathmandu – and Trek Wrap-Up…

close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (coming in 2016); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of special-operations military ZA novels. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

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ARISEN : Operators, Volume I - The Fall of the Third Temple by Michael Stephen Fuchs
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