To stop my lungs from rotting away in the foul Kathmandu air I’ve decided to go on another short hike in the Everest Area and to avoid a possible bottleneck at Lukla on the way out I’m flying there to start my trip and then walk back in the general direction of Kathmandu.
The flight was delayed no surprises there but after the usual pushing and shoving, we got under way. It’s always fun to see the reaction of tourists on their first flight in Nepal it normally follows a pattern of “We are going to fly in that?” to spontaneously bursting into tears and blurting “We are going to die!” As it turned out we didn’t die and it was quite a good flight with only a little turbulence and good views of the Himalaya. For one woman, the view was a bit too good when we skirted some rocks near Lamjura La and she did burst out in tears but the pass is very close to the plane’s flight ceiling and if their wings don’t clip the cliffs all is good. Just before we boarded the plane I got talking to Elin from Amsterdam and while she looked Dutch I hadn’t picked the accent, not the sort of thing that happens to me a lot.No point trying to talk over the din the aircraft makes so we resumed our conversation over lunch in Lukla. Elin is here for six weeks and plans to go trekking for the next twenty days in the Everest area and was looking to hire a porter which luckily is easy enough out here and after I asked the Lodge owner for some help. A young man arrived within five minutes and announced he was a porter after confirming price and duration he went back home to grab a toothbrush and was back before we finished our tea. The Lodge owner meanwhile advised us that he knows the man’s family so trusting that all is well I said my goodbyes and started heading down the hill to Surkhe.
The trail heads down steeply and within minutes I’m the only hiker on the trail. While there were plenty of trekkers in Lukla they are all either going to Everest Base Camp or coming from there and although I expect it to be busier than last February I still don’t expect to see the hordes that fill the EBC trail. Now it’s been only two and a half weeks since my last hike but my body is complaining at every step, my knees, my hips, my back all feel strained and sore after the first five minutes but I know from experience that they should come right with time and try to ignore them. In the end, it takes me almost two hours to descend the path to Surkhe on a confusion of trails that separate and then converge again. I do walk through a few people their backyard, past a memorial for one of the aircraft that didn’t make it to Lukla and spot a water driven grain mill standing idle. Then suddenly, I’m in Surkhe, enough walking for the day.