Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Back in Kathmandu

The past few days have gone by in a blur.  We've had some long days of trekking to make up for the lost day in Dingboche when we were snowed in an extra day.  Coming back down to Lukla was like saying goodbye to new friends.  As we walked down, the views of Everest and Nuptse diminished in size, but not in memory.
Each step was for savoring the moment and enjoying the sights and sounds of Nepal.  I don't know if I will ever forget the smell of yak dung dust on the trail, or the smell of a yak dung furnace.  The welcomed warmth of those stoves at high elevation more than made up for the odors.
I think I am physically stronger from the trek, but I feel emotionally drained from saying goodbye to our Sherpa staff.  We were so privileged to have such a superior staff to take care of us.  I'll miss the morning wake-up tea with Chirri outside the tent calling, "tea?  coffee?" 
"Yes, please - two teas, two sugars.  Thank you."
"You're welcome!"
Then, about 20 minutes later, two bowls of hot water appeared outside the tent.  "Wash up!"  Followed by breakfast - porridge and then an egg and some bread.  In between those times was for packing and sorting out gear for the day.
I'll miss the routine of trekking.  The hours of hiking before lunch, the long lunch break to rest, the hours of walking until our evening stop.  Tea time, dinner, playing "Phase 10" - a fun card game for up to 10 people.  The Sherpas took to the game pretty quickly.
Flying in and out of Lukla is another sort of adventure.  Look it up on YouTube - there's probably some exciting footage of landing on this short, uphill airstrip.  The routine in Lukla is down to the second with a plane landing, turning on dime, unloading passengers and luggage, and then reloading for the exciting downhill takeoff. 
The pilot revs up the engine prior to take-off and then you have just seconds before the runway disappears under the wheels and you're off over the chasm.  It's pretty exciting.
I cried nearly the entire flight from Lukla to Kathmandu.  It was so hard to say goodbye to the mountains.  I loved being out in the remote areas with no chaos of the city.  I enjoyed the sound of yak bells and the Sherpas singing or whistling as they walked.
I've never seen such a hardworking group of people in my life.  The Sherpa are so strong.  Some of the porters carry loads that must be 150 kg or more.  Whereas it took us more than a week to trek to Gorak Shep, the Sherpas walk from Lukla to Everest Base camp in two days time. 
I have some good photos to share once I'm home and have time to process my pictures.  I learned a lot about photography on this trip as well, and I've made some new friends.  We've had a good group of people for this workshop/trek and I will miss them.
However, when my hotel room is finally ready here in KTM, I'm looking forward to a long, hot shower.  We stayed in Lukla last night at the Paradise Hotel.  The place had its charms, but hot water and a toilet seat that stayed in one place were not among them.
It was really a shock to fly into KTM and see the city again.  Cars, motorcycles, buses, people - it's like a sensory overload.  After I'm clean and rested, I'll face the crowds.


Anonymous said...

thanks for all the updates, really cool following you guys. nice job on summiting.

san diego, CA

Anonymous said...

Andi: Very nice meeting you and Steve. Loved the blog. Thanks for the tour down memory lane. Michael F.

Anonymous said...

Andi: Great meeting you and Steve tonight. Thanks for the tour down memory lane. Michael F.

Andi Wolfe said...

Mike - it was great to meet you, too. I hope we run into you again - that was quite a nice surprise for us.