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Nepal 2014

Day 8. Everest Base CampTrek. Lukla to Phakding

NEPAL | Saturday, 31 May 2014 | Views [720]

Gerard and Nick were to arrive at about 9.00, which gave us the luxury of a lie in and a late start. We we're wakened early by the roar of the first wave of early flights landing, taxiing and leaving via the 500 metre runway. They appear from the south of the valley and seem to drop on to the runway from an impossible height, tyres shrieking on the asphalt a moment before the engines are put into full reverse thrust to brake and pull onto the tiny 4-plane apron. The planes reload and leave in a few minutes to return for the next wave before flying is stopped for the day. At the same time helicopter flights are lifting off taking climbers to higher reaches in the mountains.

The boys arrived in the second wave to a happy reunion with us all, recounting their Kathmandu transit. China Southern had briefly lost Nick's bags but otherwise they were OK.

We hadn't seen many trekkers before. Lukla is the favoured starting point for most hikers bound for high elevation treks so it came as a shock to see so many: out-bounders in their pristine outfits and new equipment; in-bounders sun burned, grizzled and travel stained. The little settlement teems with hopeful porters and apprehensive trekkers.  The route to the highlands winds through thronging streets of vendors hawking trekking gear, Tibetan jewellery and last minute snacks. We signed in at the police post who for some reason wanted to know what sort of camera gear we were carrying, and set off to Phakding.

This was a walk in the park compared to anything we'd seen thus far with well-made cobbles, intact stairs and slight grades. Passing many mani walls and collections of painted stones and stupas, the trail descends through pleasant villages and prosperous fields of potatoes and cabbages, tracking the Dudh Khosi river. In all it was 2 and 1/2 hours, 13,300 steps losing altitude slightly from Lukla at 2850 m to 2640 m here, close to the milky river. After an early lunch, a quick snooze.

An unexpectedly light day, ready for the 1,200 m gain tomorrow to the storied Namche Bazaar, ancient trading post, gateway to the Upper Khumbu Valley and the route to Everest and Tibet. I can't believe we traversed 7 km so easily. On earlier stages of the trek, 7 km would have to have been won following a hard battle. However, I shouldn't speak too soon of winning battles.

Tags: everest base camp, lukla, phakding


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