Our “Groundhog Day” started much the same as the day before. Pack our bags ready for our Lukla flight, A little later at least so we arrived at the airport in daylight. We queued for check in for over 2 hours, sitting in the dusty floor waiting anxiously for news if the flights to Lukla were going or not. We were a group of many expectant climbers and Trekkers from all over the world in the same predicament and we recognized a lot of faces from the day before.
The waiting game
Eventually we were ushered through with our hand written boarding passes and only half of our bags making it onto the flight. I rather worriedly watched mine in the “left behind” pile and tried to find our from Tensing, our head Sherpa, as to when it would join me in Lukla, but he didn’t seem sure!
Once in the departure lounge we drank excellent cuppachino and tried not to be too optimistic. It wasn’t long before we were called to our bus which would take us to board the plane. Same bus… Same plane as yesterday, but today we were hurriedly shepherded off the bus to wait for the tiny plane to finish refueling. Our hopes were high.
We boarded and then waited. We waited after the safety briefing for about an hour until we were told to disembark and go back to the terminal to wait. So off we went with no idea where we would actually be that night.
Another 20min wait in departures and we were summoned again. Back on the bus, back on the plane…. yes! …… No…. Please disembark- bad weather…. Just as we say on the bus we were called back!!! Quickly, get on the plane, let’s go! By now it was after 1pm, but it looked good, the little aircraft started to taxi.
No acrobatics today…
Once in the air, we bumped and bounced around the clouds flying over the foothills of the Himalaya. They were suprisingly populated with potato and buckwheat farms, almost every green patch of land carved into terraces to support an ever growing population. Pretty rivers wound their ways through the hills and I daydreamed of riding my mountain bike along the twisty, pretty tracks that scarred the landscape. The plane took a steep turn to the right which brought me abruptly out of my reverie. Right in front of us was the tiny 110m landing strip nestled between the mountains. Gulp.
The famous Lukla airstrip
The pilot bought us expertly and quickly down. The brakes worked overtime to bring us to a halt outside a pretty collection of buildings at the Lukla airport. We were finally here!
We went into town – it was charming, a few little shops selling climbing and trekking gear, some souvenirs, a few lodges boasting wifi, hot water and flushing toilet, all next to cobblestone paths. The weather was clouding over and it looked like the chances of any more plane landings were slim … My bag would only be able to come tomorrow.
We had lunch and our first hit of lemon and ginger tea which was becoming the drink of choice with most of the group. I could see from the menu that my LCHF lifestyle was going to be sorely tested on this trip. My choices were eggs or omelettes! I had a delicious cheese omelette, updated my social media, Whatsapp my loved ones and then it was time to walk.
It had started to rain so we donned our rain jackets and covered our backpacks. We walked through the town and started on the trail to discover a pathway leading into incredible beauty. The prayer stones and prayer wheels that we passes reminded us to pray to cleanse our souls. The gently ringing yak bells subtly understated the approach of abnormal loads in the back of doe eyed furry sturdy animals. They look uncomplaining if that’s possible and so sure footed on stretches of trail that had us reaching for our trekking poles.
As we stared from Rhodendra trees to pine trees to farm lands and the beautiful river, we began to fall in love. Whatever this journey brings, it promises to open our eyes and minds to something amazing.
Rob, Gerald and I decided to stop for tea before we crossed the river. We were sure that we were close to Phakding and we wanted to soak up some local culture.
Our unscheduled tea break
When we’d finished our tea, our Sherpa, Pudding, told us we still had 1hr 40mins to walk so we had better get our headlights on! The rest of our journey was quite tricky. It was dark, slippery, rocky and you were never quite sure whether you had stepped in mud or Yak pooh….
Eventually we found Sean waiting for us at the end of a suspension bridge in Phakding – our home for the night.
The tea house was warm but very basic. I had my second omelette for the day along with a bowl of soup for supper. Luckily Molly had some clothes for me and Mienkie had a small toothbrush from the airplane. Sort of sorted, I slept suprisingly deeply, dreaming of prayer stones and beautiful raging rivers.