Everest Base Camp Trek Day 2 – Phakding to Namche Bazaar

Trekking to Everest Base Camp

Everest Base Camp Trek Day 2

In March 2015, I set off on the adventure of a lifetime with 3 good friends. We would be trekking to Everest Base Camp in Nepal to stand and look at the beauty that is Mount Everest.

If you’re following along from day 1 trekking to Everest Base Camp, welcome back! If you’re new to this adventure, you may want to first start with day 1 of our Everest Base Camp trek from Kathmandu to Lukla and Phakding and then come back to continue on.

In this article:
Trekking to Everest Base Camp: Day 2 from Phakding to Namche Bazaar
Eating Lunch and Crossing Suspension Bridges
Hiking to Namche Bazaar
Spending the Night in our Namche Bazaar Tea House

We ended day one of our Everest Base Camp trek with rain, hoping that it would stop sometime overnight. It had rained constant from about 1pm on the day before, so it seemed hopeful that the storm could stop. But, we also knew from the forecasts we had looked at before heading to Nepal that there was a chance that the storm could carry on and be huge.

Trekking to Everest Base Camp: Day 2 from Phakding to Namche Bazaar

Elevation: ~8,700 feet to ~11,200 feet
Mileage: ~6 miles – starts uphill, then some downhill, then a lot more uphill…

Trekking Everest Base Camp: Trail Map of Day 2 from Phakding to Namche Bazaar
Trekking Everest Base Camp: Trail Map of Day 2 from Phakding to Namche Bazaar
Elevation of the trek from Phakding to Namche Bazaar
Elevation of the trek from Phakding to Namche Bazaar

 

We woke up on the morning of day 2 of our trek in the dark, and since there are no street lights we couldn’t really make out what it looked like outside. As the sun started to come up, we were shocked to see that at our tea house in Phakding, which sits around 8,700 feet, the ground was covered in a few inches of snow. As we got ready for breakfast, we found that it was raining out pretty heavily, which was turning the snow into slush.

It was shaping up to be an adventure of a day!

We finished our breakfast as the porters packed our bags together and covered them with tarps to keep them dry. The trek can be done without porters, but it makes a difficult hike substantially more difficult. We covered ourselves with whatever we could, trying to balance how cold it was then with how much we might warm up while we were trekking – it’s always a tough balance. The day was supposed to be about a 5-6 hour hike, with about an hour for lunch half way. We were excited to get going!

Day 2 of trekking to Everest Base Camp from Phakding to Namche Bazaar, we realized there was a lot more to the town than we had realized. Our tea house was at the very beginning of town, and avoiding the rain the day before, we didn’t realize there were bars and more hotels further ahead. It was raining pretty hard as we trekked on and the hike gradually (with a lot of up and down) climbed higher, which turned the rain to snow.

At this point we were already pretty wet, even though we had waterproof gear, since the rain had been so constant. And it was getting colder. At one point going over a (very long and high) suspension bridge, my cold and wet gloves got the best of me and I could no longer feel my fingers. Luckily we were moving constantly so body heat wasn’t really a problem…yet.

Trekking to Everest Base Camp from Phakding to Namche Bazaar sure was beautiful though! Everything had been touched by snow, and we were hiking along the river so it was a gorgeous backdrop. Occasionally we would walk through a small town, but much of what we passed hadn’t opened yet since we were still early season trekking. We passed a few people here and there and the occasional yak/cow or donkey train, but for the most part the trail was pretty clear of people.

Eating Lunch and Crossing Suspension Bridges

When we reached our lunch spot on day 2 of trekking to Everest Base Camp, the snow was coming down very heavy. Like, white out conditions. We removed our wet layers and set them out to get what we could to dry (HA! Dry…that’s funny), and sat down for tea. The warmth of the tea was welcomed, but almost started to work against us as we began to relax and realize how cold we actually were. We sat next to a couple who was coming down from Namche Bazaar and they said that about 2 feet or so of snow had already fallen as they were heading down, so we were in for a “treat”.

As we sat eating our lunch, Gyanu came over to us with some concerns about hiking the rest of the day in the snow. He said the next half of the day would be through the forest, and he was concerned about the snow causing tree branches to fall that could potentially hurt us. The four of us sat discussing for a bit, split down the middle. The boys wanted to head on, while Sarah and I were hesitant but could be easily swayed.

We had 2 options: we could either spend the night at the tea house where we were having lunch, or we would set off in the snowstorm (did I mention it was DUMPING now??). Our next day of trekking to Everest Base Camp was scheduled to be a rest day in Namche Bazaar which would be great. It would be especially nice to have that full day to acclimatize at 11,300 feet, but none of us knew how bad it might be up ahead.

Finally, Gyanu walked over to us as we were still debating and told us that the porters had left with our things, decision made! We watched as our bags slowly bobbing away in the snow. I think Gyanu had realized that we wanted to move on, and we were all fairly well experienced so it was a safe enough decision.

So, with our decision made for us (which was hilarious, by the way), we all bundled up once again and set off.

Day 2 of trekking to Everest Base Camp is what I call “Don’t look down” day. I had seen pictures before our trip of suspension bridges, but I didn’t realize how many there were, and quite how scary they would be. Now, also take into account the fact that most of the bridges were pretty covered in snow and ice which made them even more terrifying, for me at least. The other 3 in my group all enjoyed them, and thoroughly enjoyed making fun of me as we crossed. I just focused on putting one foot in front of the other.

Luckily, we all made it across all bridges without any incidents – I think in total there were probably about 10.

Hiking to Namche Bazaar

Gyanu, having done the Everest Base Camp trek more times than he could count, estimated about 3 hours for us to make it up to Namche Bazaar after lunch. We had already hiked for about 4 hours or so from Phakding, taking longer because of the weather. The second part of today’s trek from Phakding to Namche Bazaar was definitely the toughest – pretty much uphill the entire way. And with the snow, every step had to be purposeful with full use of your quads so that you didn’t slip.

This was where my counting started (if you haven’t read my blog about backpacking Cottonwood Pass  in the Sierras – it’s my “keep moving “ tactic). Let’s shoot for 70 steps…stop, breathe. Okay, 100 steps this time…stop, breathe. Only 50 steps this time…stop, breathe.

The boys and Gyanu trekked on ahead while Sarah and I pulled up the rear. It was still really, really beautiful but oh so fricken difficult. I did make sure to stop every so often and look around to take it all in. When trekking, it’s easy to get caught up in putting one foot in front of the other that we miss what’s all around us, and man, was it incredible.

Spending the Night in our Namche Bazaar Tea House

Finally, after what seemed like forever, we reached a sign welcoming us to Namche Bazaar – woohoo! Then, we turned a corner and saw the layers of buildings on the opposite side of the mountain and realized we still had about 20 more minutes of uphill trekking to go – dammit!! We continued on through town and finally reached the Yak Hotel. Gyanu walked us into the dining area where there was a small space heater for us to warm up around.

We changed out of our wet clothing into whatever was dry and huddled around the wonderful heat. Luckily, at the time we were the only ones there, so there was no competing for space or warmth around the small space heater – advantages of pre-season trekking! The hotel itself was nice – one of the more comfortable tea houses we would stay at. The rooms are upstairs from the dining room, and we had an incredible view from our window. There was electricity so we were able to charge up, and there were flush toilets as well.

It felt good to be in Namche, and we were all grateful with the decision (the Porters made) to move on so that we could spend the next day “relaxing”. But, it was still snowing out and we were all a bit concerned about how the rest of the trek would go. A little later in the day, a group of Americans from upstate NY (my people!) showed up on their way back from trekking to Everest Base Camp with stories of how terrible the conditions were. One girl told us how the trail was only about 7” wide, and she took a  wrong step she almost went sliding down the hill. Luckily her guide luckily grabbed her before she fell – but, um, that was concerning.

Then there was the fact that it was still snowing, and we had no idea if we would even be physically able to get to Everest Base Camp through the snow.

We had dinner around 6 – we all ordered egg fried rice, but were craving French fries so we got a plate to share. Unfortunately our eyes were bigger than our stomachs, and we ended up with some leftover food. Gyanu made a comment, and rightfully so, that usually people only order one dish per person. Since all food at the towns is carried up by Porter, wasting food is very upsetting to those who live there. Color us all incredibly embarrassed. Way to be that American idiot, Rachel. It’d be one thing not to be able to eat because of altitude sickness, but we specifically just ordered too much and then wasted it – that wouldn’t happen again.

Omar, our porter, filled my Nalgene with boiling water for me to snuggle in my sleeping bag which was lovely and really saved me throughout the entire trip. Exhausted from the day, we made our way to bed around 7 and it wasn’t long before we were out cold.

 

 

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6 Responses

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  2. […] 3 was a rest day in Namche Bazaar, which sits around 11,300 feet. We had gone to bed early the night before, exhausted from a very long and difficult day of trekking. As expected, Ransom and I were wide awake […]

  3. […] it’ll be weather. I’ve had to hike in rain and snow, and sometimes it’s absolutely miserable. You’re wet, you’re cold, you’re tired, and […]

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