10/14/2016 - Trek to Everest Base Camp Day One - Phakding, Nepal
I’m so excited to be here! So much has happened leading up to this point. I quit my job October 4th. Moved out of my apartment October 6th. Flew to Albany for family reunion October 7th. October 10th and 11th were packed travel days. Car ride to Albany- woke up at 1:30am and threw up twice on the way. Flight from Albany to Philadelphia- threw up 3 times. Flight to Qatar. 8 hour layover. Flight to Kathmandu. Met up with Thea there- we stayed at a bare bones hostel in the “tourist ghetto” Thamel. We arrived on Dosai which is akin to Christmas so it was pretty quiet on the street which was great- good transition into the full blown chaos the second day. Kathmandu was great- tour of Durbar square (lots of temples), shopping and eating. Second day we got more supplies for Everest and had lunch with Thea’s friend Shrisha. We’re hoping to go to her home when we come back on the 28th. Kathmandu is loud and dirty- lots of dust. I am glad to be in the mountains where the water runs clear out of the tap and I don’t feel the cakey grit of dust on my teeth.
We woke up early this morning to catch a flight to Lukla- very small plane- only sits 16 people. I happily only threw up once. It was a bit cloudy, but we saw mountains when the clouds opened up. We landed on a tiny airport strip that has an incline to help planes stop before crashing into the mountain.
The people here are very nice, there doesn’t seem to be resentment that we are clogging their pathways and taking endless photos of their stupas and prayer wheels.
We had breakfast in Lukla and fog set in so our guide Angkayla had to stay behind with the group heading back to Kathmandu because their flight was cancelled. Now our guide is Nowong until tomorrow evening when Angkayla will meet us in Namche. Yelgin is our porter- he is so much younger and cuter than I imagined. He is carrying both of our bags and I feel that I have brought too much, but going through there is not much I don’t think I will ever use, but we will see.
We hiked for three hours from Lukla to Phakding with a break for lunch. I felt good and the views were spectacular. We are sometimes literally in the clouds, so can’t see too far off the path. The trails are very rocky with steps sometimes built in. There are these metallic suspension bridges spanning rivers and small canyons. The first one was dizzying to cross it was so high up. The trees and plants are lush- bright green. Moss and lichen grow everywhere- including on bark. Spiders make these small webs in walls of rock and moss that look like cotton candy hammocks sparkling with dew. The water of the rivers is this beautiful aqua- such a true aqua color. There are enormous rocks the water roars past, wearing them smooth and exposing striations that look like a birds eye view of the beach (the sand).
Once we reached Phakding we explored- there are many gardens and women and children washing clothes and dishes with water pumped (maybe) from the many small rivers rushing down the mountains. There are also lots of yaks and donkeys with bells around their necks carrying large loads on their backs. Often the trail smells like manure. People carry large loads as well- piled into wide triangular woven baskets and strapped to their foreheads. They walk stooped, but quickly and sure-footed.
We played soccer with some local children and our porter. They put me in keeper since I was too exhausted to run around much. A boy with a dirty face and hands and snot running down his nose had me hold his hands and spin him around in the air. His dirtiness made me uncomfortable, but we shared deep laughter spinning and getting dizzy. He was very persistent and wouldn’t let me stop until I joined the soccer game. After a bit he approached me again and I waved my hands and repeated, “no more, no more” and the other boys echoed me, laughing.
Thea is pretty good and definitely held her own better than I did. We were still glad to be women out on the field, hopefully showing that not only boys play sports.
Then we played cards with Nowong, Yelgin, and another Sherpa guide. First we played Kings in the Corner, then Egyptian Rat Screw. Nowong picked up the games very easily. I think Egyption Rat Screw was the best because it is so loud and you have to be on your toes- it was definitely the most fun.
I am having a great time and am so happy to be here.