How do you continue telling a story when the main event is more or less over?
After a very long and adventurous final day in the mountains, Allan and I found ourselves with three days to spare in Kathmandu. We spent it wandering around the various shops in Thamel and seeking out the restaurants recommended by our guide book. In every corner, we were followed by the haunting sounds of “Om Mani Padme Hum” and in Thamel, the streets were filled with fellow tourists like ourselves.
We shared this one lunchtime as our celebratory drink (we're real party people aren't we?)
We woke up early to a foggy Lukla for the first flight to Kathmandu. As we had breakfast in the nearby bakery, Ang Dawa went out to check on the flight status and take care of checking us in. However, things were not looking too good. The fog was still lingering in the airfield with no sign of lifting. Our departure time passed and we were still hanging around in the dining area of our lodge waiting. We were still hoping for flights to resume later on in the day, similar to the day before when flights only resumed after lunch. We then got a call from Harka.
According to him, no flights are in operation for the day, which we were already aware of. He, along with other folks, were organizing a helicopter alternative to get us down to Kathmandu that would cost us around $500 (for 2 people). Now $500 is quite a sum of money and while I was considering the cost, I just wanted to get back to Kathmandu as soon as possible. Little did I know, this was because I was already experiencing symptoms of Giardiasis. Socs and I discussed this and we made a decision to take Harka up on his offer.
I was hoping that the helicopter would land in Lukla and get us out of there, but we were told to get our stuff ready for an hour’s trek down to where the helicopter can land. So after lunch, we reorganized our gear (as we were dressed for air travel and not trekking) and set off down the mountain. Ang Dawa took our other bag which Dill would have normally carried. It was a wet trek down and we could definitely see why no flights would be coming to Lukla anytime soon (in fact no flights were in operation until we were back in London nearly a week later). During the trek down, I started imagining that we were being evacuated from a conflict zone to the chopper’s LZ (coincidentally, Tears of the Sun was showing on the telly when we got back to our hotel). Our LZ turned out to be a clearing on the side of the mountain beside what I think were corn/rice fields.
Socs: For people like you and me, LZ = Landing Zone
foggy trek down to the LZ
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.
A mirror when brushing your teeth! This was a real luxury.
The day started with real good coffee from our lodge at Kyangjuma. We weren’t sure about how today’s trek would be, except that we will be heading downhill after Namche. As we set off, we stopped a few meters from the lodge just to take photos of the sun shining behind a mountain. I took that as a sign that the day would be a good day.
Sun shining behind the mountain at the start of our trek
Just because we were heading down doesn’t mean all our trails are downhill. Today we retrace our steps from the valley of Periche all the way to Kyangjuma where Allan and I bought yak cheese on one of the hardest walks in the trek. At this stage, Allan and I were trying to recall the trail in order to prepare ourselves for what was to come. We could definitely remember that from Namche, it was downhill after Sanasa and then uphill to Tengboche. Reversing that then, we were in for a significant uphill. Again.
Saying goodbye to Periche