Lukla to Jiri Part 2.
Junbesi to Jiri
After coming into Junbesi around 330 pm, I started to look around for a place to stay. Junbesi was a fairly large village. Junbesi served as intersecting point of multiple trails, albeit less traveled trails. As With mountains on 3 sides, Junbesi is nestled into the base of some mountains. These mountains were a lot less jagged and steep as the other mountains I had crossed. Still steep they were rounded off more.
More like the mountains I had become accustomed to in north Georgia. A stream, vital to life, run right though the middle of the village as was the norm. Here people used the stream to wash their clothes, got drinking water, and kids used it as summer time fun. I even saw someone washing their yak in the stream one time. EW! You mean I am drinking dirty yak water… ew narsty!
It wasnt hard to find a place. I asked a couple of white people I saw and they all pointed to one place. I can not remember the name of it. Any ways I stayed there. As soon as I arrived they showed me my room and I ordered as much food as I could I knew I needed to re-nourish myself. I had to take in the calories I had burned today and then put in some for tomorrow. I ordered a swiss roastie (basically pure greasy goodness, hash browns, cheese, and 2 fried eggs). Dump enough salt, pepper and whatever sketchy ketchup they had on it and its awesome. I then ordered a pancake, a large beer, and a snickers pie (a fired snickers bar with pastry around it.. pretty damn good if I might say so.
It was 4pm and people were looking at me kind of weird for ordering all this food. I slowly devoured this over and hour and then 2 hrs later I was back to more food and dinner. I knew I had to wake up early aka before breakfast so my plan was to have a ziplock bag full of boiled potatoes, garlic, and yak butter to eat along the trail. I order that and stuffed it away.
It gets quite cold at night so all of the tea houses have a center stove/fireplace in the common room. The common room during the height of tourist season houses porters, guides and some trekkers. The Stove is a large metal box with a small metal chimney that goes up through the roof. Down in the lower altitudes they burn wood. But up at higher altitudes where timber is not available they burn YAK poop. YES YAK POOP! It actually doesn’t smell as all they eat is grass. Stuff burns like wildfire But it is kind of funny to watch some old lady bring over a huge bucket of dried yak crap, open up the stove and throw it in bare handed. Then she cooks your food with those hands. Haha!
I was in luck we had timber down here. Most of the places set aside a certain amount of wood or crap to burn per day. They try to save their fuel and money by burning less. Every tea house has a certain time where they start the fire. Usually no matter how cold it is they wont start their fire until then.
After a shower and my first dinner I sat by the fire where Roger, the aussie from the trail earlier, appeared with his guide. I greeted him and started up some conversations with the fellow trekkers staying at the lodge. There were 4 of us total. By far the fewest number of trekkers anywhere I had stayed the entire trek. This just goes to show you how few people do this part of the trail. If they had a flight to everest base camp or an escalator there people would take it I bet. For me the enjoyment of the mountains was me tackling everything they threw at me. You don’t always come out unscaved but you come out a better person. As I always say, “I’d rather go out and fail than to not even try!”
After a beer or two it was time to hit the hay. In the mountains where there is usually no electricity and not light, you go to bed when it gets dark. Consequently you wake up at quarter to bull s*$! in the morning everyday. That and the yaks wake you up.
Its better to be the first person to wake up because then you’re the one making noise waking others up and not the one being woken up.
With a semi nights sleep and a ziplock bag full of melted butter, garlic and cold boiled potatoes I took off before anyone else had woken up.
As I had ended me day at the bottom of a down hill I started the day with an up hill. A long 2 part climb. The first not very hard. Wide open with a view of the sunrise over the back of the Himalayas.
A vista fit for the gods or rather those who wanted to wake up early.
The stone and rock laden path wound along up a valley towards a pass. Wind whipped past me in all directions as if it was as confused as I was at which way to go. All was silent except the wind.
A couple of minutes later I passed a monastery where I hear low hums. Must have been morning prayers. Regardless I felt compelled to run this up section, so I did. I was really surprised at how good my legs felt considering yesterday I went for 12 hours and 45 minutes. Something had happened. My body had adapted over the 22 day trek. My muscles no longer hurt on downs or ups. I could always keep going. It was something I had never felt before…. I felt invincible, or so I thought.
With the first and easy part of the climb over, the trail entered a wooded area. Just before this I encountered a group of porters starting to get their loads together for the day. Day light had broken barely. The last straggler caught site of me and my bag of potatoes. He got my attention and gestured to the bag, then at his mouth. Ohhhh I get it….He wants some potatoes.
It was hard for me to part with my potatoes because I did not know how long it would be until I reached food again or if they would be open. According to Roger, and this was one of the reasons I stopped in Junbesi, there wasn’t any food or shelter for hours even if I was running.
Being a nice person and knowing that I could never complain about feeling bad or hungry because this guy worked harder in a week then I could ever do in a life time. I gave him a couple of potatoes and then pushed onwards. The look on his face was like I had just given him a million dollars.
Now in the wooded section the climb went from moderate to very steep. Four or five small trails all intertwined up and down as some were carved from men, animals, and snow melt. The forest here was actually really awesome. Big trees, crisp air, no wind and a kind of “Lord of the Rings” feel to it. I felt like I was in middle earth people. I did not encounter anyone on this 45 min climb. 75% of this run was spent with no souls in site. I really felt like I was going back to my roots as a human and as a runner.
As I broke out of the trees I saw a couple of stone structures that must have been houses. I saw prayer flags that screamed in the wind. Though I was not in the wind and not at the top yet I could here the wind. I knew it was coming. A small pass separated two massive peaks. One to my right and one to my left.
I climbed the 100 feet or so and began to crest the pass. As I grew closer to the top I began to feel the wind. It slowly went from a breeze to a hurricane with gail force winds. Almost blowing me back off the mountain it was so strong. I was nearly horizontal trying to push through the wind. On the top of this pass there was a man opening the door to his tea house. He saw me, yelled something I couldnt make out in the wind and then motioned me over. I was FREEZING! Shivering I came into his tea house. The man, in perfect english, asked me what I needed. I told him how about hot chocolate. He said no problem. Then he asked where all my gear was, where I was going, and where I was coming from. I explained my entire story. Amazed and more than willing to help he explained what I had in front of me and that I could easily do it today. He said I had a LONG LONG down hill to Kinja… the next big village. His 5 or 6 yr old son waved good bye and there I went.
This section down to Kinja was my favorite section of the entire run! Off the pass you actually kept the ridge for a couple of miles. The ground was frozen ice. I tried to hurry before it melted to slush and would be even harder to run in. On this ridge I passed countless bhuddist prayer stones. I began to pass a lot of porters, all of whom where now awake and on the go now.
From the pass it was flat along the top of this ridge for about a mile or two. Then you see the trail start to drop off rapidly. You can see all the way down to the bottom of the valley which you know this is where you have to go. It would be slightly daunting to most but since I love down hill it was a welcome site.
Off I went down the mountain. Passing small village after small village. Roger told me I would not find anything. Well this was just not true. I passed though Sete, a nice little village with a nice view of the himalayan foothills. As I left Sete, not even half way down the 6,000 ft decent, the trail got fun.
It looked water had eroded small gullies all intertwining down the mountain. All of these small trails were well traveled. They had soft footing and made for a fun downhill. I felt like I was riding a mountain bike carving in and out of the gullies. Running up onto the bank of the turns and just flying.
I had a giant grin on my face and was making airplane noises like I was flying. (yes I am 5 yrs old)
This lasted about 20 minutes until I came to a small pond on top of a flat part of a ridge. It looked like it was used for watering live stock. I then came between some houses/tea houses. The trail turned back to the stone pathway I was used to.
As I continued to run down 45 minutes into the decent and not even halfway there, I stopped to get a snickers at a tea house. The locals would often quote you a high price so you had to know how to haggle and the cost of things. It was easy to get ripped off. I bought a snickers and some other crazy arabic candy bar which I had no idea what it was(since it was in arabic). Could have been chocolate and peanut butter or could have been chocolate covered lamb brains. I don’t know nor do I care because it tasted okay.
With every stop meant less time moving forward. I tried to only sop for water, candy bars, and coke every 2 hours or so and have a full meal maybe once every 4-5 hours.
More and more houses, people, chickens, and goats began to appear. I knew this meant one thing…. I was getting closer to Kinja, my lunch destination.
The final mile was very very steep. People looked at me awkwardly as I ran down into the village. This was the biggest village I had encountered on the entire trek so far. Kinja was the lowest point on the run. I had just come from the highest. A 6,000 foot decent. Legs felt surprisingly ok, in fact more than ok they felt normal. Kinja is situated at the base of a couple smaller foothill mountains. There is a very large river that runs right through the center of the village. It is the source of life for this village. Kinja seemed to be booming with energy. This town really reminded me of a local georgia town called Helen.
This was my favorite village of the run.
I ordered lunch from the first place I saw that had someone else eating there. I ordered fried rice and some rara noodles. As I waited I looked at my map as the soft roar of the river played music to my ears. I plotted my route and became familiar with it. Next was a long climb. Along this valley then up to Bhandar. From Bhandar I would continue the climb up to Deurali. A pretty stout climb as it appeared on the map.
The noodles and rice came. I dumped old watered down ketchup on top of the rice to better the flavor.
I was sweating all of a sudden. I just realized that it was hot. Like really hot. After being in the snow 4 days before this freezing my b#%%s off I was now in 80+ F degree heat.
I scarfed down my food like a man who hasn’t eaten for weeks. I got up and started to walk.
I always let my food settle a couple minutes before I start to run or hike. Then I shift to mixing in running and walking. Then to all out running. It allows me to digest the food and not vomit while moving forward as fast as I can.
Leaving Kinja I passed over a bridge. On the other side of the bridge was an armed guard at his post. I jogged across the bridge and the man stopped me. He asked for my documents. I gave him my pass port and trekking permit. He looked at these. Though I know the man did not read them. Then he said, “YOU SIGN NOW!” He pointed to a small composition note book. I opened it and understood what it was. It was out leaving the military area and they wanted you to sing in and out. I followed what the people before me had done. Name, passport number, where you were coming from/going. I wrote m name down as Run Bum knowing the man would not read this. What they did with the composition notebook was any body’s guess. I havent got any Nepali spam mail yet about deals on properties in the himalayas.
I waved good bye and headed onwards. I was about 4 hours into the run. It was getting hotter and hotter. Compared to the type of climate I had been in the last 3 weeks, this was a desert. It was hot and dry. Not many trees just small shrubbery. After 2 miles of flat crossing over the river a couple of times the trail began to climb. Hugging the side of the hill it was a steep vertical.
I was sweating a lot. Not good for distance runs.
I passed a couple of westerners coming down the mountain. I asked each one the same question. How far until the top. They said it had taken them 2 hours to come from Bhandar to were they were. Bhandar was the half way point of the climb.
I pushed on. As I grew closer I began to hear something I had not heard in over 3 weeks. A noisy ruckus. Something I forgot I hadnt heard. It was a void that I was unaware of until now. It was a car. There were no roads where I had been the last 3 weeks.
As I neared an intersection where the trail cross this road the car, well truck actually, passed. Some crazy Nepali music blared out the window as a flat bed toyota truck from the 70s passed. It was completely loaded down with about 6 people in the bed of it. I smiled and they smiled and waved back. A pleasant pick up for me… from a pick up. Haha I’m so smart.
As I crossed the road I could now see above me… WAY ABOVE ME. It was another 2 miles forward and at least 2,000 feet up. I had been climbing for about an hour and my legs were dragging in this heat. Not to mention the 20 pound pack I had been lugging around since the start.
Crossing the road I passed into a wooded section. I popped out of this and began to see houses and people. What a pleasant site. I could go for a caffeine boost. I had fallen in love with the Nepali tea. I could taste it. Worst part about this was that I still had a good mile to go before I hit any tea houses worth stopping at. As soon as I did I dropped my pack at the door and gasped, “TEA!”
There were two teenage boys standing in the room who immediately started laughing. I guess have because I was so desperate and half because it startled them.
They brought me out some milk tea. MMMM caffeine and calories. With that down in my belly I left some Nepali rupees on the table and took off like a flash. Well more like a dying water buffalo.
It was flat for about half of a mile and then it was straight up. Just before the climb I encountered an older french gentleman. How do I know he was french? He said Bon Jours. It’s times like these I like to have fun with people. I said GUTTEN MORGEN(spelling? Good morning in German). Puzzled the man looked at me funny and then walked by. I have found you can say almost anything to people as long as you wave and smile.
I began to climb, tea sloshing in my belly. This climb took a lot out of me. It wasn’t the longest climb by far but it was a good 30-40 minute climb that was very steep. A road criss crossed the trail.
Turning around I could see all the way back to the pass I had climbed this morning. I could not see Kinja but I could see the valley I had come up. It was a long freaking way! Most likely 10-20 miles.
I turned back around and pushed onwards. I began to hear voices and I neared the top. Prayer flags, people and tea houses appeared. It was a welcome site. I saw a couple groups of westerners here. Sitting on top of the pass and enjoying lunch. I stopped for a brief second to take in the veiw off the back side of this mountain. I spoke with a canadian group of folks. I asked them how far it was ti Shivalaya, my next village and final village before Jiri. HOORAY! From our vantage point you could actually see where I had to go. I had to go to the bottom of this mountain down into the valley and then climb up and over the next mountain and down to Jiri. Just two more downhills and an up hill. The LAST UP HILL!
I thanked them and took off down the trail. This was one of the gnarliest spots on the trail. By far the hottest, as it was mid day about noon. It had the most rocks in it. It was like running on waves made of rocks. Nothing was stable. The path was a single track gulley with the top being above my head. Once you were in the gulley you could not see around you. Just in front and behind. It was tough.
That lasted about 20 minutes on the 2,500 ft down hill.
Thankfully this eventually opened up to a regular pathway. At this point I encountered a man. He was a tall healthy looking man in his late 40s. He was Nepali but did not look like he had been battered by work and the sun over the years. He looked very healthy. He was hiking with a small back pack on. He stopped me as he saw me running. He asked me where I was coming from and where I was going. I explained to him what I was doing. He told me,”You hike like a Nepali! You are not like the other westerners.” This put a huge smile on my face. “Thank you,” I told the man. This man truly picked up my spirits and it still makes me smile to this day. He asked me my name and said that he would not forget it. I thought that was really awesome too. “Only 2 hours for you now. GO!” The man yelled to me from down the trail.
I find a lot of pleasure in going to places very foreign to me and pushing myself against nature and others in their home surroundings. Being the outsider and the under dog.
This is what people always talk about when hiking and trekking around the world. It’s the small moments like this that you can not describe and they seem so insignificant to others but to you they can change your life!
I bid the man Namaste and headed off with a new pep in my stride. The man had given me some sort of recognition and a new drive. When I was tired he gave me energy. I had been in the doldrums and he had given me hope. Two hours to go, he said it. That was all I had.
About 20 minutes later I popped out onto a gravel road into a town. The streets were laden with trash and mangy dogs. 3 roads came together here. This town was an intersection vital of Nepali life.
Family run stores lined the dirt roads. In the mid day heat people kept to the shelter of their stores. A couple of kids kicked a bouncy plastic ball down the road. It felt like a ghost town. I walked down the center of the road. I was being watched by the weary onlookers inside their store. No one tired to sell me anything they just stared. I picked a place to get something. I saw some bread in a store. I purchased a small pastry that had most likely been made earlier that morning. Fried goodness.
I asked a small kid which way to Jiri by pointing down all 3 streets. He didnt understand. Then he ran away. “WHAT WAS WRONG WITH THIS TOWN!” I thought to myself. Finally a man from behind a counter whistled to me and pointed down the road. I put my hand up in a thankful way and bowed my head. I started running. I wanted to get out of here as soon as possible. Bad vibes every where.
I kept running down the road for about a minute. I came across a bunch of westeners speaking what sounded like swedish. I passed by them and smiled. After I was 30 seconds past them they yelled, “Hey! Hey cowboy! Back this way!” I turned around and they were all pointing cross a very large bridge I had missed.
DOH! I turned back and crossed the bridge. They all laughed as I passed by. At what? I have no idea. I didn’t care to find out or talk to them.
The river I crossed was pretty massive and this was the nicest bridge I had seen in all of Nepal. Which isn’t saying much. Like being the hottest chick at the retirement home.
Down the river women worked feverishly to clean and wash cloths. Reason # 547 you should be careful about drinking the water. Ahead I saw farmers working their land to the right and left. The path across the river lead upwards. It was the last climb. About a 2,000 ft climb. The trail lead up a small valley. You could not see very far as there was a lot of vegetation.
I figured I better go ll out here it’s the last climb. I paid bad for this mentality. As I started to run a lot of the up I passed multiple groups of porters napping in the shade or just talking and laughing. Their conversations ceased as I came into view. This was what I had gotten used to, people staring, laughing and giving me weird looks as I ran. I was a freak to people. I now know what it was like to be a minority for a couple of days.
I kept onwards though the diversity. About half way up this climb I died out. I started walking and then just about crawling. Now a couple of trails split off. “DAMN! Where do I go?” I thought. I was losing it. I couldnt think straight and the sun loomed over me trying to beat me down with every ray. I was fighting back. I was in the fight of my life. With everything stacked against me I struck back.
I continued on my selected trail, when it lead me to a cow pasture. 2 people sat 30 feet from me in the pasture eating food. “JIRI?” I yelled inquisitively. They shook their heads and pointed back the way I had came and then to the left.
I was lost yet again… go figure. Slightly disappointed I kept on. I came to a dirt road and went up it. I went to take a sip of some water and it was bone dry. UGH! It was getting worst. Thankfully there was a family’s house 100 yards ahead where I could see sodas lined up outside for sale!
I crawled my way up to it. No one was there. JESUS! I yelled a little bit, like a dying mule. Finally someone appeared and opened things up. I got water and a coke. Thank god! After sitting for about 15 minutes the sugar hit me.
The man gave me directions. During those directions he tried to give me short cuts. Haha I dont want those thats a recipe to get lost!
I continued up the uphill on the dirt road. Finally seeing the top with a radio tower on it I gasped a HUGE sigh of relief.
I looked out upon rolling mountains as far as I could see. On the sides of these “small hills” I saw houses and lots of them. I WAS ALMOST THERE!
I began running with a new vigor. I could smell blood. I was very emotional and almost started to cry.
Cries of relief. I began thinking back with the day before I doubted going and I did not know if I was going to go or no. I remembered getting lost and still pushing through. It was now all worth it.
I still had a couple of miles to go until I was home free. Running along the ridge it gave way to some down. I followed the road. I saw multiple paths splitting off to the left and right. I hoped these weren’t trails I needed to take. But I figured they probably lead to houses and farms etc.
I came across a group of 5 teenagers. I stopped and shouted, “JIRI?” one kid pointed one way and the other kid another. Then they laughed. What the hell! I was no very confused and angry. They talked in Nepali and laughed. Finally one of the girls hit the one kid on the head and motioned the right way to go. I was still unsure and slightly pissed. Haha what can you do?
I continued down the road where I encountered a man in his 60s walking his donkey. I asked him the same question. This time the man pointed down a split in the road and off a path.
I took the path which basically cut out the road which winded gently down the mountain. The path when straight down. I bombed down this. With my pack full of crap… including a sleeping bag, down jacket and toiletries.
Flying around a corner I ran into a group of hindus 30 strong. They all moved out of my way as one single mass and gave me some strange looks.
Finally the path hit the road at the bottom. I saw some Nepalis who were all walking one way down this road. I decided to follow them. Eh why not? I was on an adventure.
A man came up behind me on a bike and then passed me. I picked up the pace to keep with him. Another 5 minutes passed as we came around a corner. I saw a hord of people and what appeared to be a small town. I saw something I had not seen for over 3 weeks. Paved road. I sprinted!
Reaching the concrete I entered an open circular paved area lined with shops all around it.
Looked like this =0= with the road coming in and out. Shops selling everything lined the circumference. I started to walk I had to make sure this was it. Finally I saw what I had been dreaming up for 2 weeks now. A sign that said WELCOME TO JIRI.
I was done and I had finished possibly the most epic thing I have ever done ever.
I hope you guys enjoyed the ride and here is the footage from the 2nd day.
More to come soon about my trek around Everest.
I will be back to Nepal soon. I had such an epic adventure. The culture, the people, the food, the views and the good times are once in a lifetime!
Run Bum Sean