As I elected to take the more direct route down to Namche (avoiding the high pass) this review covers our journey. With the help of the other group we will compile an additional Day 19/20 from their persepcetive.
Leaving our Gokyo Lakes Tea House we follow the Gokyo Valley south, and the Dudh Koshi Nadl river (which will be accompanying us for the next three days). As we move away from Gokyo village we quickly find Lake 2 in the Gokyo lake string. Slightly smaller but no less stunning.
We continue to follow the river and notice that instead of passing the spent and recovering we are now passing those in meditation or contemplation. The scenic beauty of the trail inspires thought rather than exhaustion.
Crossing the river one last time we slowly climb leaving the river far below as the trail grips the hillside along the top of the valley affording amazing views far down the valley and beyond.
By afternoon we find ourselves in rhododendron groves and shortly thereafter we feel as though we are re-entering earths atmosphere as at long last we fall below the tree line and rediscover the world of shade and light, cool and hot, shadows, birdsong and the crunch of leaves underfoot. The Rhododendron (meaning Red Tree) is the national flower of Nepal and is widespread throughout the region.
As the light fades we find our Tea House in Phortse Thanga next to the river. Throughout the day we have enjoyed the river as a companion from all levels, from very high up looking down in to the valley to being able to feel the cool of the rushing water from the bank and it is fitting that we now sleep to the sounds of our companion. We have descended 1,000m today and the air here is richer and warmer so sleep comes more easily.
With morning comes a 300m climb back out of the valley and away from our rushing friend. We take the climb at a leisurely pace and enjoy the views of the mountains above and the river below both through the lush vegetation. We are surrounded by huge pine trees and the powerful scent of millions of pine needles on the trail. As we pass the temple at the top of the valley we know it’s downhill to Namche.
I have learned over the past two days that for me it is most certainly the journey rather than the destination that gives me the most pleasure. Oftentimes we have walked alone with not a soul in sight and the pure beauty and tranquility is precisely why I travelled over 9,000 miles to be here.
We meet up, as planned, with our fellow Turtle Trekkers in Namche in time for lunch to share stories of our two paths. Everyone is excited and in good spirits.