Day 6: Paiya to Phakding
Pikey Peak, Nepal
Ascent: 800 m
descent: 920 m
Distance: 16 km
Elevation at Destination: 2610 m
For once, we didn’t start the day with a huge climb. The straightforward, undulating path, although at times a bit muddy, gave us a chance to warm up our legs before things got serious. An hour or so in the trail dropped directly down to the town of Surkhe, but it didn't feel as difficult as it had on previous days. Our only hold up was the mule trains. By the time we reached Surkhe, about two hours after starting out, we had been stopped by six mule trains and one yak train, mostly carrying heavy bags of food and gas bottles. Each time they appeared we flattened ourselves against the mountain, waiting impatiently for them to pass. We also became stuck behind a yak train going in our direction, but fortunately an overtaking area appeared after a few minutes. It wasn’t often that the trail was wide enough for that to happen.
Like yesterday, clouds appeared early in the day. We were lucky to catch a few breaks every now and then, but we never really knew what wonders lay before us. Planes transporting passengers between Kathmandu and Lukla continually flew overhead, their loud engines ruining the serenity.
Once we crossed over the gushing river in Surkhe, we commenced the climb straight up the other side. I wasn’t sure if we were getting used to all of this ascent or if the incline was more gentle on us today, but it didn't feel quite as torturous as most of the hills we had hiked.
Near the top we reached the village of Chaurikharka, a huge, never-ending, stair-filled town that stretched for well over a kilometre. While walking through here the tip of a peak slowly revealed itself from behind a cloud, but I was continually stuck behind houses, trees and power lines to see it clearly. Chaurikharka blended into Cheplung, where we ate lunch in the sun and relished the fact that most of our ascent for the day was behind us.