April 20: Namche to Phakding

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We awake to a sunny day, and spend some time exploring Namche before heading down the trail toward Phakding. We leave the snow behind as the trail rapidly descends the ridge to the river crossing. As we descend along the ridge below town, there is a break in the trees and we get one last parting look at Everest before the mountains become obscured by the lush forest. The smoky fires have been put out by the days of precipitation and the air is much clearer than it was on our uphill trip.

At the entrance to Sagarmatha Park, we have to show our park permits and sign out. There is a sign at the entrance that has posts statistics for visitor traffic in the region by month. Our perception while on the trail has been that the number of visitors is somewhat lower than usual, but these stats show that, although down somewhat, the number of trekkers is not dramatically different from previous years. My sense is that the biggest reduction is in the number of Americans visiting the region.

We encounter some Nepali government troops as we descend. We had seen them on the way up but somehow they seem more noticeable on the way down, after having spent so much time away from current events information and what passes for civilization. They are shy and courteous. We hope they never need to fire their guns.

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