Everest Base Camp Trek Day 3: Rest day at Namche Bazar

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There was no official trekking today, instead it was a rest day to explore Namche and adjust to the altitude. We did do a bit of walking though, visiting the National Park Museum and getting our first view of Everest from the ridge near the museum. After taking plenty of photos we then took a shortish but sharp climb up to the Everest View hotel, a Japanese owned facility with, as the name suggests, extensive views of Mt. Everest (the photo above shows Mt Everest reflected in the windows of the hotel). The outside dining area was an excellent spot for a drink and rest while admiring the truly stupendous views.

After climbing back down to Namche, I spent the afternoon exploring and enjoying a real (Lavazza) coffee and pastry in the Namche bakery.

Day 3:
No trekking – acclimatization

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Everest Base Camp Trek Day 2: Phakding to Namche Bazar

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Due to delays in arrival at Lukla, the previous day’s walking had been a bit of a forced march in gathering gloom. Day two of the trek felt like the first real day of trekking – we woke up to a beautiful but rather chilly morning and proceeded up join a lot of other trekkers on the path to Namche Bazar.

The trail first enters a forest of Rhododendron and Magnolia and then passes though a village called Tok Tok. From here a canyon is entered and the trail climbs moderately upwards to the village of Chumowa before crossing a bridge into the village of Monjo where we stopped for an early lunch.

Shortly thereafter, the official entrance to the Sagarmatha National Park is reached. We took the opportunity for a short rest while our guide dealt with the paperwork (permits are required to enter the park). From this point the path descends steeply for a short while before levelling out and following the Duhd Koshi (river) to Larja Dobhan. We had another short rest just below the Larja suspension bridge (see photo above) before beginning the final slog up to Namche.

The final slog is a climb of around 600m beginning after the bridge is crossed. The climb up is relentless and surprisingly tough, although I didn’t complain too much given that we kept passing porters carrying a lot more than a daypack. The weather by this stage of the day was very warm and this combined with the altitude made the walk thirsty work. At a couple of rest points along the way, enterprising locals were selling drinks and fruit, and one of these points also provides the first view of Everest – that is if it is not obscured by cloud as it was when we arrived.

Passing up through Blue Pine forest the path eventually reaches the bustling hub of Namche Bazar, where we very happily collapsed into our room for a rest before venturing out to explore Namche’s narrow streets.

Day 2:
Phakding (2610m) to Namche Bazar (3440m) (net height gain 830m)
About 5 hours / 7 kms

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Everest Base Camp Trek Day 1: Lukla to Phakding

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The first day began early, with us arriving at Kathmandu airport at around 7:00am, for a supposed early flight to Lukla. The scene at the airport appeared to be one of barely organised chaos, with hundreds of tourists and locals endeavouring to secure seats on their flights. Although we were allegedly leaving around 8ish, we didn’t actually get out to our plane until about 2pm. I’m not sure how the seats are allocated, it seemed to be based on whose tour guide shouted the loudest (our guide spent most of the morning hanging around the desk for Tara Air waiting for the opportunity to grab some seats).

The planes from Kathmandu to Lukla are Twin Otters, with capacity for about 18 passengers. After squeezing in, the hostess offered us a mint and cotton wool (to stuff in your ears). When we eventually got going, our plane taxied to the runway, stopped…and then taxied back to the apron – Lukla airport had been shut due to high winds. Although disappointed that we were going to have to spend even more time sitting waiting in the departure lounge, I was in no hurry to fly to Lukla in adverse weather conditions. I’d already been warned about the airport there – there’s a very short runway that runs uphill (when landing), with cliffs on all sides.

We eventually got off an hour or so later, for a fairly smooth 45 min flight. The landing was certainly “interesting” – there’s no room for error, you hit the runway immediately it starts and then it’s heavy braking as you rush up the hill, before a turn to the right and a small apron in front of the terminal building.

After meeting our porter and collecting our bags our small party began the trek. Lukla – which apparently means “place with many goats and sheep” – is, as the launching point for trekking in the area, a hive of activity. Because of the delay in getting started though we didn’t have time to tarry and so after a quick meal we proceeded down the main street, passing numerous stores selling outdoors gear (mostly knock-offs) along with a (fake) Starbucks and an Irish pub.

After passing through a gateway with a painted message telling you to enjoy our trek, the path is generally downhill, eventually reaching the village of Chheplung, which is on the junction of the main Khumbu trail from Jiri. The path soon crosses Thulo Khola on a suspension bridge, with good views of Kumsum Kangure peak. We didn’t spend too much time admiring the view as it was getting dark and we were in a hurry to reach Phakding. Thankfully, we managed to reach Phakding just after the last of the daylight disappeared, and proceeded to enjoy a hearty meal in a dining room packed with other trekkers.

Day 1:
Lukla (2840m) to Phakding (2610m) net height loss 230m
About 2.5 hours / 6 kms

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Fairfield Park to City via Main Yarra Trail

Walk notes by DWP

This is the third and final section of the walk commencing in Eltham following the Main Yarra Trail. Again, easy walking or riding along mainly bitumen & gravel surfaced tracks with numerous attractive rest or picnic spots.

For access to this section of the Trail enter the car park at Fairfield Park from Heidelberg Road and pick up the path at the easily identifiable signs indicating Main Yarra Trail & Capital City Trail via Dights Falls to Federation Square.

After a few minutes walking around the edge of the Fairfield oval the path crosses Yarra Bend Road. On the other side of the road continue along the path as it meanders along the top bank of the deep gouge formed by the Merri Creek. There is a viewing platform part way along that is worth a brief visit. Pass under the Eastern Freeway overpass and then cross the bridge on the right over Merri Creek where it joins the Yarra River to enter Dights Falls Park and where the Merri Creek Trail and Main Yarra / Capital City Trail merge. This is an ideal spot for a break, to watch and listen to the falls and enjoy the pleasant and peaceful surroundings.

After your break continue along the path as it follows the bank of the Yarra River and passes by the Abbotsford Convent and Collingwood Children’s Farm, an excellent spot for a cup of coffee, snack or meal depending on the time of day.

Continue along the path until Gipps Street Bridge. Cross the bridge and either join the main trail along the side of Yarra Boulevard or preferably follow the path through the trees along the bank of the river eventually merging with the main trail just south of Dickinson Reserve. Follow the main trail a little further until the footbridge is reached leading to Walmer Street Richmond. After crossing the bridge stay on the path that follows the bank of the river and enjoy the very attractive scenery and unexpected tranquillity of the surroundings as you pass through Hawthorn heading towards Burnley.

The path continues to meander alongside the river and Yarra Boulevard for some while eventually passing under Swan Street and Monash Freeway just after which the Gardiners Creek Path joins the trail from the left.

Just before reaching the Grange Road roundabout and bridge one has to choose to either continue along the riverside path to Federation Square via the Burnley Boardwalk, Yarra Park, Olympic Park and Flinders Park or cross over the Mac Robertson Bridge and then follow the Main Yarra Trail as it snakes its way to Southbank sandwiched between Alexandra Avenue and the river.

Following the main trail across the bridge allows the opportunity to visit Herring Island in the Yarra River, Como Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens before completing the final section of the walk to Southbank and St Kilda Road. Flinders St rail station is just a few minutes walk across Princes Bridge.

Overall another pleasant generally undemanding walk mainly following the banks of the Yarra River with numerous rest spots and access points for shortening the walk or ride if required. Although relatively peaceful during the early part of the walk it is impossible to escape the intensity of traffic noise as one approaches the Monash Freeway and also along Alexandra Avenue on a busy day which can detract somewhat from the overall enjoyment of the environs.

Start – Fairfield Park
Finish – Southbank or Federation Square, St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Fairfield Station rail connection and off-street parking available at Fairfield Park
City – Parking restrictions apply. Distance Approx 16 Kms

Main Yarra Trail previous sections:

Eltham to Heidelberg

Heidelberg to Fairfield

The following documents (pdf) show all bike trails in the City of Yarra, including the Fairfield to City portion of the Main Yarra Trail:

Map p.1

Map p.2

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Brisbane CityWalk, Queensland

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This was my first visit to Brisbane for leisure rather than work, and I found this walk, along with a visit to the Maritime Museum (which is passed along the route), to be most enjoyable, helped no doubt by some fabulous weather. Highly recommended for visitors to Brisbane – it takes in some lovely parks and attractive heritage buildings.

A detailed route description and map can be found here. The walk officially starts at the Brisbane Information Centre in Queen St Mall, but you could start it anywhere along the route. Allow 2-3 hours for the walk itself, longer if you stop off at any of the attractions along the way.

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Devils Marbles, Northern Territory

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I’ve been a bit slack updating this blog, but more walks will be added soon.

I recently was able to make a short visit to the Northern Territory; my first visit in 30 years since we lived there in Warrego (45km west of Tennant Creek) for six months back in 1980.

Just off the Stuart Highway about 95km south of Tennant Creek are the ‘Devils Marbles’ (Karlu Karlu in the local aboriginal languages). These are well worth a visit – there is a self guided walk as well as plenty of walking trails allowing you to explore.

More information: National Parks information sheet (pdf)

Bushwalking: Hartz Peak, Tasmania

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This is another great day walk that is easily accessed from the lovely city of Hobart. It provides for excellent alpine walking with extensive views and secluded and attractive lakes and tarns.

The walk commences from a car park at the end of the gravel road that leaves the C632 road (see access below). There is a large visitors shelter and the path to Hartz peak is clearly signposted. Follow the path, which is boardwalks for a good deal of the way, as it climbs slightly and passes a signposted track to Lake Esperance (worth a side-trip). The path reaches Ladies Tarn another 1km or so further on at which point the track becomes less well used but still easy to follow, turning westwards for a short but very steep climb up to Hartz Pass.

From here the path turns south climbing steadily, marked by regular signposts with orange arrows and a series of small cairns. A bit of rock scrambling is required to attain the summit. The summit has a trig point and there is a small wind shelter nearby. The walk returns by the same route.

The day I was there in May the weather was pretty terrible on the way up to the summit – no views but plenty of wind and rain, which pretty much describes the weather when I did the walk in May 2008. Nonetheless, it was still enjoyable – or perhaps invigorating is the best word. Highly recommended, but please be ready and equipped for poor weather. There were a few Japanese tourists walking ahead of me in jeans and casual jackets – thankfully they only went as far as Lake Esperance as they were completely un-equipped for the conditions.

Walk date: 9th May, 2010
Time: Around 4 hours
Grade: Moderate day walk
My rating: A

Access: Follow the A6 from Hobart to Geeveston. From here take the road signposted ‘Hartz Mountains National Park’ and keep an eye out for further signposts. Eventually a gravel road is reached (just after Arve River Picnic Area) which leads to the car-park and start of the walk.

Bushwalking: Mt Wellington, Hobart, Tasmania

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Mt Wellington provides an impressive backdrop to the city of Hobart, and also provides for some excellent walking in an alpine environment and tremendous views. Although you can drive right to the top, walking up at least part of the way is more enjoyable and provides a better introduction to the mountain. This circular walk commences from ‘The Springs’, located on the main road to the summit. It takes in the summit as well as a walk across the plateau. Because this is an alpine area, you should be well equipped for poor weather.

The walk commences from either the main car park at The Springs, or from the minor road that leaves the main road to the left and climbs briefly. The first part of the walk is the Pinnacle Track which is well signposted and easy to follow. After a series of steps the path becomes a well trodden bush track that climbs steadily to the north with occasional views to the east. After about 1.5kms a junction is reached; turn left up the accurately named Zig-Zag track which soon starts to climb steeply and provides superb views if the weather allows.

The track eventually reaches the plateau and a track junction, ignore the track to the left for the moment (this is the path for the return journey) and instead stay on the well formed track as it passes  to the left of the transmission tower on its way to the summit which is in the middle of a road loop so take care to watch out for traffic. After visiting the summit you could also drop down to the visitor centre or take in a viewpoint just to the west of the summit. In fine weather, the views are superb and extensive.

The return journey follows the path back to the above mentioned track junction and then follows a much rougher track, marked at regular intervals with poles fitted with orange markers. This track, the South Wellington Track, traverses the summit plateau before dropping briefly but steeply into bushland and ultimately reaching a signposted track junction with the Ice House Track. Take the Icehouse Track which is generally easy to follow as it descends through forest and eventually reaches the Miles Track. Turn left here back to the carpark.

Overall, a terrific walk featuring great views and a varied and interesting alpine and sub-alpine landscape, and all less then 30 minutes out of Hobart, a beautiful city in itself.

Walk date: 11th May, 2010
Time/Distance: Around 3.5 hrs
Grade: Moderate day walk
Map: TASMAP Wellington Park Recreation Map (1:20,000)
My rating: A+

 

Rambling: Derbyshire White Peak – Circular tour from Leadmill Bridge via Abney, Shatton Lane & Offerton

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Walk notes by DWP

The start of this suggested walk is Leadmill Bridge, which is a short walk south from Hathersage, past the Station, along the B6001. If traveling by car there is a small lay-by adjacent to the Plough Inn just beyond the bridge.

Starting from Leadmill Bridge walk south on the B6001 passing the Plough Inn on the left and then take the first turning on the right heading up the hill past Hazelford Hall. Just beyond the Hall at a sharp bend in the lane follow the farm lane above Tor Farm. Keep to the path as it passes through farmland and a number of gates before dropping down into Brook Wood. Cross the stream then take the rising path along the lower slopes of Bole Hill eventually descending towards Stoke Ford. Cross over the Cloughs via the footbridge, walk past the sign and take the footpath up along side Abney Clough and follow this path passing eventually through a stile and then a gate before emerging on a lane that leads into Abney. Follow the short lane and turn left along the village main street and just before the telephone box turn right up Duper Lane and follow this until it reaches open moorland. (Road and Duper Lane can be viewed on Google Maps, Streetview)

Facing the wooden signpost at the Lane junction take the gravel track to the right and continue on as it curves round and enters Shatton Lane. Continue down Shatton Lane past the communications mast (Google Maps, Streetview starts here for Shatton Lane) enjoying the magnificent views to the north towards Kinder Scout, Win Hill Pike, Derwent Edge and a glimpse of Ladybower reservoir. Just after passing the sign on the right indicating ‘Restricted Byway Ahead’ the track changes to a metalled surface and a gate and stile is reached at a bend in the lane as it begins to descend towards Shatton. Pass through the gateway and follow the signed footpath over Offerton Moor emerging eventually at the road near Offerton Hall. (Google Maps, Streetview) Meander left down the hill past Offerton House and Offerton Hall until a gate on the right is reached marked with a Public Footpath post. Pass through the gate and follow the path as it drops down through a number of enclosed pastures until it meets the river Derwent close to the stepping-stones. Turn right and follow the path downstream through open pastureland negotiating numerous stiles along the way until reaching the starting point of the walk at Leadmill Bridge and the added attraction of a well-earned break at the nearby Plough Inn.

Start & Finish: Leadmill Bridge Grid Reference SK2380
Distance approx 11.5kms easy walking with diverse scenery and easy access by private or public transport.