20,000 leagues under the sky, 2004- travel blog

Floral carpet.

Glade.

Last view of mountains.

THAT bridge.

How high?

Lukla runway.


Return Journey.

I never see the point of taking time with descents so I decided to aim for at least Pheriche for the night and preferably to get back down to Tengboche and hope for a repeat of the views I got there on the way up. The climb that Tinkerbell had led me up took only 20 minutes to descend and I took great pleasure in the straining faces of the group that I passed coming up. I reached Pheriche at about 1pm and thought that if I stopped for lunch I might get too comfortable and end up staying the night so I stopped at the top of the pass after the village and ate the boiled egg I'd saved from breakfast and a packet of nuts from my emergency supply.

The long day started to take it's toll and I got slower and slower as the day progressed, I did, however, make it to Tengboche by about 4pm. I never really noticed the descent from Tengboche on the way there but it was an un-needed climb after a 12 hour day that nearly finished me. I stayed at the same lodge as before and for the 3rd time found myself with a whole place to myself. Unfortunately the next day started cloudy and I didn't get to see the views over the monastery again, but it cleared up soon into the walk making the final views towards Everest memorable before I rounded the corner back to Namche. I stocked up on chocolate and water in Namche before descending the huge hill back to the valley floor, the 2 hour killer climb became a 33 minute (yes, I timed it) run down. I was nervous enough crossing the high suspension bridge on the way up and dreaded it's return crossing all the way down but was aghast to find a middle section missing this time. I wonder whose foot went through the missing board and whether their heart has started again.

I knew that I didn't have enough time left in the day to make it all the way back to Lukla but tried to get as far as I could. I made it to Phakding, the place that I'd had lunch on the first day and decided to call it quits there, leaving only 2 hours walking for the final day. There were quite a few people staying the night there on their way towards Everest and apparently the poor weather up the valley had been nationwide, no flights had come in or out of Lukla for the previous 3 days causing a minor backlog on the trail. Incidentally, when I left the Sagamatha National park the day before I read their statistics board, in an average August there are about 200 trekkers entering the park, in October and November this goes up to between 6000 and 7000, more people per day than the whole month of August, it must be hell.

I got to Lukla in time for 2nd breakfast on Tuesday and found myself a nice place to stay although I have to say it had the worst food of the whole trek. The girl in reception said she would get me a ticket to fly out on the first flight the next morning but by the time I went to bed she still didn't have the ticket. In fact I never actually saw a ticket, she took me to the check-in desk at 6:30am and all I got was a boarding pass. This time I lied to security and played stupid when he asked about lighters and matches, even the dumbest terrorist isn't going to try to take down a plane when they are the only passenger and there isn't a high building within a few thousand miles.

And that is about where I started, now back in Kathmandu where I've had my first alcoholic drink for 10 days which I think is a personal record since the age of 18, and some food not involving rice. The traffic is horrendous and I can't wait to take off on my next trek, probably back to Annapurna this weekend.



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