After 15 days of walking, I was excited about this day. Why? There are good hot shower facilities at Lukla where we’re headed today!! Yes, if you take the trek in the Everest region, you will not always get a hot shower, so don’t blame me if I was that excited. Aside from that though, it was our last day of walking. We will stay overnight at Lukla and then fly off the following morning for Kathmandu. I vowed to take it all in today and enjoy the trek, even though the morning was chilly and clouds were hanging low on the mountains reducing visibility.
The plan was to stop for lunch in Phakding where we spent our first night in the mountains, however, we must’ve been walking quite fast as we got there around 10am. We had the option to move on but as Allan was hungry, we stopped for tea and some Momos. It would be our mid morning snack and we would later have lunch at the same place where we had lunch on that first day of walking.
Our most surprising observation today was the sheer number of trekkers who were heading up. We kept passing group after group…and they were not small groups, mind you. Some of them were at least 10 or 15 in the group. We started thinking about the smaller villages where there were only a few lodges (like Tengboche for example, or Thukla) how many trekkers can such a small village accomodate? All of those groups were flying in everyday and everything they need — from toilet paper to bottled water — are brought in from down below. No wonder the porters carry so much on their backs. We can’t help but imagine how this place would be like in a few more years. It will not look the same for sure, just as it probably looks completely different now from how it was years ago. One can only hope that no irreparable damage will be done to the area.
Where we stopped for lunch was about 2 hours away from Lukla but about 15 or 20 minutes after we left, it started raining. We took shelter inside a small lodge where we met a British couple who were having their lunch. We chatted with them for a while and learned that they booked through a British travel agent who surprisingly did not inform them of just how basic the lodges are. Not that it would’ve stopped them from heading here, they said. It was just good practice to inform your tourists of such things. We agreed as we couldn’t imagine not knowing such a vital piece of information beforehand. At the same time though, I was surprised that they had come all the way here without learning more about what they were about to get into. Sure, I do that for my other trips…but not one that involved more than a week of walking in the mountains far away from any major city. Anyway, we had a good chat with them about what they thought of the trip. It was good to share post-trek thoughts with other who have just experienced the same thing you did (yes, they too were heading back to Lukla).
Once the rain stopped, we were off again. At one point we left Ang Dawa behind so he can chat with some friends. He would catch up with us, he always did. When he found us again, he had news that flights to and from Lukla for the day have been cancelled due to the weather. We worried about this briefly, but then we planned for two days buffer just for that exact purpose, so it didn’t bother us much. Plus, further on, we saw a plane make its way towards the mountain, heading for Lukla. Flights were being resumed, surely tomorrow would be a lot better and flights would continue.
We trudged on on a final uphill climb, at one point when Allan was removing a few layers to suit the weather, the American we had a chat with at Lobuche passed us by and said hello. He too was on the way back to Lukla.
Within a few minutes, we were past the stone archway which signals the end (or start) of our trek. We had made it back to Lukla, we had finished our 16-day trek of the Everest Base Camp trail. We were unable to reach EBC but we were safe, all our fingers and toes were intact and most of all, we had survived and completed what is to date, the most memorable trip of our lives.
We had the rest of the day to rest, clean up and ponder on that accomplishment. The following day would be “goodbye” mountains as we were flying back to “civilization” early in the morning.