After another sleepless night Todd and Mark set off with super guide Ngawang and Lahkpa the 17 year old porter passing the Goyko stone masons out cracking granite into gravel, climbing the long gradual trail above Goyko lake, climbing across icy streams and crossing late season snow fields, legs heavy as if filled with sand up steep switchbacks and up the final rock band to stand atop Renjo La pass. Magnificent views back east with Mount Everest dominating the skyline in a flawless blue sky. High fives and photos and a moment to breathe the fresh clean air at 5360 meters. Feeling proud to have reached the top of the 3 passes in honor of our group, we started down the beautifully crafted and massive staircase descending all the way to the valley floor, then set off across high tussock meadows at a steady pace, pausing in the sun near an old yak enclosure to share a snack before descending another 1000 feet to the village of Lunden where we paused for a hot cup of Rara soup: mmm. We continued down the steep trails en route for Thame, passing free range yaks with ribbons and prayer flags in their fur, a farmer out plowing his field behind a pair of yaks, down into the rhelm of green grass shoots and the first trees we’ve seen in weeks. Approaching up the trail we were pleasantly surprised to see Alice and Ron hiking up to meet us, a happy reunion all around. Past huge collections of mani stones and up the final hill to look down on the lovely oasis of Thame where we met Ed coming to meet us. We are glad to be all together again with everyone feeling pretty well and satisfied from the amazing experiences found during our time in the Khumbu.
Meanwhile….Ron & Alice have been trekking the trails less traveled….when we left the group with the assistant guide, Jiku Sherpa, we hiked down to Pheriche where we spent the night and enjoyed the luxury of washing our hair. For the next 2 days, we traversed the valley on one of the most incredible trails traveling to Phortse, where the new Sherpa climbing school is in construction, and finally back to Namche. The last few days have been some of our favorites.