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Published: October 4th 2010
FLIGHT OUT OF LUKLA
10/6/10: We woke up to a very cloudy morning; there was no chance we were going to fly in this weather. We manage to find a family selling local food so we tucked into some cheap samosas for breakfast. Our new friends Miha and Nina from Slovenia just stepped into their antique Russia helicopter for a ride to Jiri. They weren’t able to walk to Jiri because of the monsoon had caused landslides making it way to dangerous, instead of flying all the way back to Kathmandu and then taking a bus to Jiri to pick up their remaining gear they took a helicopter making the trip very exciting and a cheaper option. They were picked up at Namche the day before but the weather stopped them going to Jiri that afternoon. They explained the helicopter to be a piece of metal that creaks and wails, also the doors and windows do not line up properly letting a cold air to swirl around the interior cabin. The whole air frame twist under the huge loads as the twin 2500HP engine winds up for takeoff. The five wide bladed rotors are ideal for carrying loads of up to
4ton and capable of flying in very thin air, perfect for the Himalayas. The cloud didn't lift until 9:00am when we heard the siren go off indicating that the first aircraft from Kathmandu had just left. Half an hour later the sound of roaring engines echoed in the valley. Watching the small aircraft come into land is something special, it is even more special being in one. With the first plane landed, unloaded, loaded and throttling down the runway within 15mins it would soon be our turn. Four planes later and we were climbing up the ladder and seated for our last look at Lukla through the sun crazed porthole windows of a TARA AIR Doriner 228. I was glad to be finally going back just so I could have a hot shower to wash away 15 days of dirt and sweat. We had a front seat view of the pilot’s cockpit; Jacinta thanked me for that. With a few flicks of the switches, twist of the dials and a push of a lever we were hurtling down the steep runway of the edge of the cliff. Without really knowing we were already in the air as the plane right
itself level letting the runway fall away from us, with in a second we were 1km in the air flying between giant mountains one again. The trip was mostly cloudy the whole way to Kathmandu, this gave us some real bumpy turbulence that shook the plane on the last 10min of the trip; nothing to worry about though. Twin skids from the tyres smacking the runway and we were back in 30C heat and humidity, not forgetting the pollution that formed a haze over the whole Kathmandu valley. With all bags accounted for we negotiated a taxi for 300NRS to Thamel. We were lucky enough to get our old room back at Pilgrims where they stored our bags. I checked into the room through my bag on the bed and walked straight into the shower. I was so quick to get into the shower that Jacinta had to get most of the toiletries for me as I just plain forgot. I pretty much spent half an hour in the shower washing myself and all our clothes and bags from the trip. I spent the rest of the afternoon transferring some of my written text onto the laptop. I had trouble
reading my own cursive writing as I haven’t really written like that since high school.
WHAT WE THOUGHT
This is the best trek we have done and I think it would be hard to top or even get close. The 15days trekking flew so fast that it didn't even feel like a little over 2 weeks of walking. The culture was lacking on EBC because there is so much influences on tourist and absolutely everyone relies on it one way or another. The best part about our trek and the timing was we saw little or no people while trekking, some day there was no one until we got to a lodge. This is a big plus when I heard how absolutely jammed pack it can become causing tourist to sleep out in tents because the rooms, common rooms and hallway force everyone outside. I could not enjoy a trek that made you wait patiently for your turn while the hundreds of other tourist had their happy snaps on top of Kala Pattha and Gokyo Ri, or the endless lines of trekkers waiting for their turn to cross a suspension bridge. Even worse, waiting patiently for your food to be
cooked by the over stressed kitchen, hard to do with a trekker’s appetite. This is the best time of year to see field of blooming flowers on a large and microscopic scale. The monsoon did hamper some views but walking alone or with your life partner through a secluded valley of giants is much better than the alternative. And don't forget to look down, not just at your feet because that is what you will naturally be doing for 95% of your trek, just don't forget the hidden world under and around your own feet, gentle get off the track and you will be amazed at how many little Himalayan flowers there are. I was just as impressed with this as I was with the mountains.
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