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Published: March 30th 2014
15-19 March Days 11-15 Dragnag(4700m) to Phortse Thanga(3680m) to Namche Bazaar(3440m) to Pakding(2610m) to Lukla(2840m) to Kathmandu
Today, the 15th of March, of all days, was our 6th wedding anniversary. We are due to be dropping 1000m in vertical elevation during around a 7 hour hike. We would pass through both Machhermo and Dhole, towns we had previously spent the night. Physically and mentally we were not in the greatest mood to be trekking, exhausting the last of our energy, in the frigid temperatures. But up here, you really have no choice. It’s either walk out of here for days on end, or pay probably around $6k a head to be choppered out to Kathmandu. On a 12 month slackpacking budget, we rightfully chose the former. We noticed that over the course of the past week the town of Dhole especially, had a lot less snow and the temperatures were already starting to “warm up”, by that I mean possibly zero instead of in the negatives. We got our final views of the handsome Ama Dablam and also passed through a quaint little town where we bought our first travel wristband (vince) / bracelet (suz). We know it’s been done
to death, but I quite like the thought of carrying on our wrists a small memento from each country we visit along the way. Unfortunately, overnight Suz had one of her all too consistent coughing fits and it looks as though she has either separated or fractured one of her ribs. So now to top things off the poor girl is in a lot more pain every time she coughs or breathes too deeply. Both of which are a common fact of trekking life in the Himalayas high altitude.
On the second day of our four day descent, the 16th of March, which also happened to be the 11th anniversary of us getting together, we rocked into Namche Bazaar, for our first taste of “civilisation” for the past 8 days. We washed the sour smelling scum from our bodies in scalding hot gas powered showers, our first shower for 8 days. We also treated ourselves to a steak sandwich and teriyaki chicken at cafe8848 (8848m being the height of Everest). The food was absolutely amazing and the coffee, real cappuccino’s, were awesome as well. We haven’t had anything except powdered milk for the past 8 days, so it was
Ama Dablam views
we bought our wristbands here
a welcome change. And the steak happened to be the first red meat we had had for 18 days. We felt pretty good about it as it was advertised as “all meat vacuum packed and frozen”. After seeing some of the warm and bloody packs of meat hanging off the heads of some of the porters on the way up, we needed to be a little careful about where we ordered our red meat from. They also provided reasonably fast free wifi, so we jumped at the opportunity to “connect back into the world” and updated our travel blog, Instagram accounts, and also got our Facebook fix.
We didn’t leave Namche until 9.30am, and it took us around 5.5 hours to reach Pakding. We had now bought some compression bandage and wrapped it moderately tightly around Suz’s torso in order to attempt a reattachment of the rib to her muscle. It gave her quite a bit of pain relief which was of course positive. During our descent it was unbelievable to witness the hoards of tourists that had embarked onto the trekking trails compared to just 2 short weeks ago, when we were on our way up. With the
tourists also came the mass of porters and donkey trains, carrying tourists bags for them. At one point we had to wait for about 15 minutes at a suspension bridge for 4 different donkey trains to cross before we could carry on to the other side. On one hand, travelling in early March is a challenge due to the biting cold temperatures, especially when you are coming in off the back of a 30 degree Australian summer, but on the other hand, you almost have the trails, views, and lodges to yourselves sometimes. I think, even though we were unlucky enough to catch severe colds, we wouldn’t hesitate to travel again during the colder non peak time. Even sitting in the Pakding restaurant lodge we are surrounded by around 7 different trekking tours, each with an average of about 4 tourists. A vast difference to only the 8 other people we were sharing the lodge with just 2 short weeks ago.
We awoke early in Pakding, at 5.45am and left for Lukla at 7am. We were anticipating a 4 hour trek uphill to Lukla, however we found that we were moving a lot faster in the oxygen rich air.
yes there is a porter under there!
incredible how these guys carry things like this, absolutely back breaking work, and they do this for hours everyday, up hills, down hills, resting every 100m or so
We ended up at Lukla at around 10am, an hour ahead of schedule. However unfortunately the weather had decided not to “play ball” and there was a lot of fog and cloud around this morning. A vast difference to that of the previous 2 weeks weather we had experienced. By midday we would learn that all flights coming from Kathmandu had been cancelled for the day as it was simply too dangerous to fly through these conditions. Looks like we are in for another night in our down sleeping bags at Lukla. There are certainly worse places in the world to be stuck for a night, and hey, would a Himalayan trekking experience really be complete without a delay in Lukla?
We were awoken the next day at about 7am by the glorious sound of twin prop engine planes landing at Lukla. The sky is extremely clear and sunny and there is little wind around, perfect conditions for landing planes at the world’s most dangerous airport. We are expecting there to be flights landing at Lukla every 10 minutes or so due to the backup of passengers that weren’t able to fly in from Kathmandu yesterday. We are on the 22nd flight leaving Lukla, so there are around 400 people waiting in Lukla that will be flying out before us. But with a flight every ten minutes, it means we are on our way back to Kathmandu at around 11am.
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