After the previous days hike and a good night of sleep, it was amazing how good both Ian and I felt when we woke up this morning. After a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs on toast (again!), we headed off down to the road to Dole. The trail was amazingly well maintained, with fitted flagstones making a good bit of the surface, and nice steps space out at a comfortable distance. After a mile or so we came to what seemed to be a work gang, all busily paving the trail with new stones. I was impressed with the organisation of the effort and was wondering to myself who was paying for their labor; well, not five minutes later the answer was right in front of me as an older Sherpa gentleman had set up a stand on the side of the trail soliciting donations from trekkers. It was definitely worth a couple hundred rupees for a trail that was so easy on the legs!
Not much father down we came to a Stupa that was dedicated to Tenzing Norgay, the Sherpa who was with Edmund Hillary on the first successful climb of Everest. Soon after, we came around another bend and got our first glimpse of Cho Oyu, the 6th highest peak in the world. This would become a constant companion for the next few days as we followed the valley northward towards Gokyo, and one of those things that really makes you feel like you are some place special.
After about five hours of slow but steady climbing, we finally arrived at the village of Dole. Our guide was pretty impressed with our progress…according to him we were about an hour and a half ahead of the normal time to arrive. I spent the afternoon reading and wandering around. At this altitude the skies were not nearly as hazy, but the afternoons were bringing in clouds that covered the mountains, and the first really chilly weather we’d experienced. All heat in the lodges is produced by burning yak dung in a central stove, and I was very pleased when they finally fired it up and served dinner. It’s veggie fried noodles or fried rice for dinner from pretty much now on, but when you’re hungry it tasted like a real feast!
Max elevation: 13304 ft
Total climbing: 4475 ft
Total Time: 05:47:22