Phakding to Namche Bazar

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We spent our first night in the town on Phakding, at 8,900 ft. elevation. The next day we hiked from Phakding to Namche Bazar, at 11,300. This was one of the hardest days on the trip. We crossed the Dudh Kosi several times, then switchbacked up the ridge into Namche.

My memory of the trail from sixteen years ago is dominated by those river crossings — at that time it was on tenuous, swinging, swaying bridges — sometimes with boards missing — very frightening at times.  There was a big project in 2002 to upgrade the bridges and they are all much better — there is chain link fence to protect travelers from falls, and there are side cables that keep the bridges from swinging. Still, you don’t want to be on a bridge at the same time as a yak. There’s just not much passing room, and the yaks make the bridge bounce pretty bad.

Namche Bazar is a little bigger than it was sixteen years ago. The biggest difference in the town is that it has electricity now. They were just installing a small-scale hydro plant when we were there in 1990. Now nearly all homes and lodges have some electric lighting, and a few have electric stoves and heaters. It will help the effort to conserve forests in the region if electricity is used for cooking instead of firewood. The electricity in Namche is more dependable than it is in Kathmandu.

As a consequence of having electricity, the Internet has come to Namche Bazar. They have satellite dishes on the outskirts of town, and the internet connection is faster than many of us have in Eugene. It was really strange to be a 7-day walk from the nearest road and be able to send and receive email.

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