Distance: ~6mi/9.7km* (mileages likely +10% underestimated)
Trip Total: ~49mi/78.9km
Teahouse Elevation: 15,600ft/4755m
Note: Let the binge reading begin! Over the next week, I’ll be releasing 4-5 posts per day to get the blog caught up to real time!
It was a great night of sleep last night. The White House is definitely where to stay in Khambachen. I liked having the smaller of the room choices as it seemed to stay warmer. Mine was about 42F/5.5C, but the guys’ rooms got down in the upper 30sF/2.8C. The quart Ziploc saved me a trip out to the pit toilet overnight too. Score! Since it was another half day of hiking, we left around 8:25am. The crisp blue bird sky with a fresh coat of snow on everything was wonderful!
Even though it was about 37F/2.8C, with the sun, and little wind, it was nice and warm. I’m loving my choice of waterproof Salomon boots, thicker black Kuhl hiking pants, and my new Montbell Thermawrap Jacket. All is working out perfectly with clothing so far. I just dread rain out here where things may take forever to dry out. We got great weather today! The sun stayed on us all day with some clouds chasing us down valley and sticking to some of the mountains around us.
Since we had just 4hrs of hiking, we moseyed gradually climbing up to Lhonak at 15,600ft/4755m. It is a great way to acclimate and start off this hike. It’s been strange to stop around noon, but it’s good for our bodies to spend time at high elevation and just acclimate.
Things were still weird with Kishor after yesterday’s incident. He’s being pouty. He wouldn’t walk out of the village with us, and avoided coming near our teahouse. Then, all day, he stayed a fair distance ahead or behind not really engaging in our efforts to joke or converse for more than necessary. Our only guess is that we broke some cultural pride rule and he may never forgive us. Technically, these four days or so up to Base Camp and back, Kishor doesn’t need to be with us. The final checkpoint we need to have a guide with us is after we go through Ghunsa again. We can’t blame him for trying to pull one over on us, and testing the boundaries, but it’s frustrating that he’s the one giving the silent treatment now.
We wound our way up to Lonak easily. We ran into the friends of the Kiwis we met last night. I noticed partway through the morning that I wasn’t wearing my diamond necklace I swear I lose or break it every year, ugh! I asked the Kiwis to look in my room for it in case it isn’t hiding in my pack somewhere. Fingers crossed it shows up. Not worrying about it yet. The only other traveler is a Japanese man with a guide and porter that we haven’t interacted with. He seems to be on the same schedule as us. We are the only ones without porters so far. The Kiwis met two Swiss men doing a month on the GHT that we will likely never meet.
Once at Lonak at noon, there were two of the four places worth choosing between. Kishor was saying something in Nepalese and we had a feeling it wasn’t helpful at all. We know these people know enough English to negotiate with us, but they translate through Kishor and more is said than what we say while Kishor grins. They offered $8/room which is astronomically ridiculous. At first we thought that meant $2 per person and clarified. Nope, they wanted $8/person. They were totally messing with us because they could and Kishor was not helping at all. After going back and forth between the neighboring places, we settled on $4, which is still $1-$2 more than it should be. Again, it isn’t about the money, it’s just the principle. We are spending a lot on food here as well and we know the going rates. We are not being cheap, we just refuse to be taken advantage of. They know they can do this because there is no other option and they have to at least try.
The sun was out with a light breeze every so often. We laid out in the grass for 3.5hrs. It was just fine bundled up and 60sF/16C when the sun was strongest. Mountains surrounded us. Yep, we need to soak it up while we can. This is not indicative of the rest of this hike that will really push our limits. We are taking this time to recover and acclimate.
Griggs is still having lingering stomach issues and recovering. He spent more time in bed. All of us are also soaking up our last few days of phone battery. Once we go back to Ghunsa and charge in a couple days, we really have no idea when we will charge for the next couple of weeks. The guys have shows and books to read. I have been catching up on writing and still sleeping to catch up. My inReach is also able to message with a good friend back home that has one as well and can relay messages to my family. It’s a bit time consuming, but has been fun in the down time to message back and forth quite a bit. With all these half days and power lounging, Buck-30 said he may never be able to hike a 20mi day again, ha!
Tomorrow, we will leave at 6am to head up to Kanchenjunga Base Camp and then back down to here. That out and back should take about 7hrs, and our hope is to leave early to get to view at Base Camp. It is at 16,900ft/5151m, and is technically the official start of the GHT. Yep, a full week just to get to the starting point! Let’s hope for another clear day tomorrow!
What an intense adventure! Sorry to hear things are awkward with Kishor. I think there could be underlying frustration from him and his community as well? The feeling of being swindled doesn’t feel good but how might the tea house operators and guides feel when they know how much others pay in different countries? What is the living wage rate vs the going rate? That might be something to consider in the negotions.
Nope that wasn’t it at all. We did find out that night that guides can get a little something under the table for bringing clients to certain places. Especially without a menu where prices can be made up given the clientele. We were purposely diverted a back way to a lower quality place in the hopes that we wouldn’t see the much higher quality one right next door. We would have liked to support the woman, and even unpacked…until we noticed that it had no proper roof to protect us from the snow, which ended up coming down through the night. There’s no frustration. Kishor was being paid quite a lot given the going rates and makes plenty. He’s a smart guy. It’s not what other countries pay. Things out here are just on a whole other scale. It’s not the money that’s the point here, it’s the principle. Your guide is there to guide you and take care of you. That’s what they are being trusted and paid well to do.
” Your guide is there to guide you and take care of you…….”
Perfect definition – I fully agree!
I am planning to do the Kanchenjunga circuit North to South on OCT 2019 -which will be my sixth trek in Nepal (After, Lantang, Lower Mustang, Annapurna Circuit and twice the Everest Base Camp 3 Passes).
I never used a guide before, and the issue you are raising here is exactly one of my concerns.
That trust is important!
I think this issue is one more reason that you are not doing this solo. Not that you are not strong on your own, but that for all of you, a United front is probably a good thing.
Binge reading is a good thing!
Stunning. Simply stunning.
What “others pay in different countries” has no bearing on this at all; market rates differ all over the world, there is no “one” rate for services. This is rather about the principle of the thing and Kishor doing his job to not only guide his clients through the wilderness but through the tea houses and other cultural interactions. It is about trust and loyalty. Erin, you three stick to your guns and keep that “united front”.