March 31st, 2019
Lukla (9318ft) to Phakding (8563ft)
Day 2 started with delicious breakfast at the Yatri Hotel, followed by 30 min drive to Kathmandu Airport. We were all excited and decided to match with our Extollo Shirts.
During the 25 minutes of scenic flight, we caught glimpses of the Himalayan range on the left side as we flew over the deep valley right underneath us. This was finally happening.
Our excitement built up even more as we approached the notorious 527m (1729ft) short runway at 9,300ft of elevation, right at the edge of a cliff. We gripped our seats as tight as we could as the pilot in our tiny 15 seater aircraft prepared for landing!
Phew, it was smooth…After landing safely, we met our guides; Bimal, Prakash and Babu who took us to a nearby lodge for breakfast (second one?? smh). Here we met our assistant guides and porters. We also filled our water bottles and did a bit of final repacking before we handed our duffles off to the porters.
After an hour or so, we started walking out of the town of Lukla to get to our next stop, Phakding.
Its’ always interesting to see the pace of life in these mountain villages, where availability of basic necessary things is limited, weather is extreme, medical care is close to none. Your two legs are the only means of transportation, they have to hike up and down the mountains for miles to go to school, or to get things. Despite all the things, they are extremely honest, and I have always found them content and happy.
Our trail was lined right next to the river Dudhkoshi, with deep valley and the mountain range on our left side. We passed many chortens (Stupa) and stone structures carved and colored beautifully with Mani Mantra (a powerful Buddist prayer). These are some of my favorite parts of the Nepalese Himalayas. You can read the meaning behind these and many other interesting things you encounter on the trail to the Everest in my previous blog post.
Two hours later, we stopped at a small lodge for a lunch and restroom break, weather and the views were just perfect for having a nice break outside on the patio. The way it works in this part of the Nepalese Himalaya is that you can order just about anything you crave for, from the lodge menu, sometimes 3-4 pages long, the choices are way too many, starting from traditional Nepalese dishes to popular items from international cuisine.
After a nice relaxing break, we started walking again. Today’s walk was on a gentle up and down the slope, with a loss of 800ft of total elevation. All of a sudden, it started raining and hailing as we were walking, hard enough that we had to stop to cover our packs and get our ponchos out. Right on the first day of our hike, we got a small taste of the unpredictable nature of Himalayan weather. Bimal said we were about an hour away from our last stop. At this point, we all increased our pace and hurried up a bit.
Spring is the perfect time for this hike as you can see magnificent Rhododendrons and Magnolia trees in full bloom. After crossing some of the forest areas, and walking for another hour or so, we reached our night’s stop at the village of Phakding. It had stopped raining by the time we reached there. Our lodge was a beautiful facility right at the edge of the river.
After some snacks, tea and rest, some of us decided to walk down to the bank of the river and hung out there. The gentle breeze and sound of water were calming. There is also a beautiful monastery up on the hill, right above the town, a few decided to hike further up to visit the monastery. Everyone had a nice relaxing evening.
The day was coming to an end, we all gathered for dinner and after that, went to our rooms for a night’s rest. Tomorrow’s climb is going to be the steep one with almost 3000 ft elevation gain. Still, sleep deprived after 22-hour journey from San Fransisco, we really needed that sleep.