Distance: 11mi/18km* (mileages likely +10% underestimated)
Trip Total: ~226mi/364km
Guesthouse Elevation: 8545ft/2605m
Today we finally reached Lukla, our first major town with modern services. Yay! This will be a more efficient and shorter entry. Since I finally got cell reception to post the blog and catch up on correspondence. I prioritized getting as many posts uploaded as I could.
Since Lukla has an airport, there are plenty of hikes that launch from there. The trails turned into a superhighway. Nice and wide with more traffic.
Most annoyingly, was the great increase in mule trains shuttling goods. The smell of mule urine was potent and they would take over the trail when they came through. Buck-30 learned they charge right ahead as one nudged him with their wide load and easily knocked him off balance. The strategy that seems to work that I learned from porters is to hold your hiking pole out in front of the mule’s face as they approach you, and they turn away from you.
We made it into Lukla by 9:30am. The airport is known for its incredibly short runway that angles downhill off a cliff basically for those taking off. There was a fairly constant stream of air traffic from small planes and helicopters. There were also a ton of school children walking around as we approached that we wove through.
The most exciting part of going through Lukla was getting FOOD! We ate at the Everest Burger. We sat there for three hours. Each of us ate a burger and a personal pizza. More importantly, there was Baskin Robbins ice cream nearby. I crave chocolate milkshakes on trail, and drink a ton of chocolate milk when I’m home. It had been way too long, so I ordered one. However, they used a powder and didn’t make the milkshakes with ice cream. I got behind the counter and walked them through how to make the milkshake I was craving. We used four scoops of ice cream, milk and, plenty of Hershey’s syrup. It was perfection! However, I didn’t pay attention (or care) how much it might cost. I figured it couldn’t be that bad…it was $14! Oops! Well, I’d say it was worth the splurge!
We also got a resupply our agent Urja (from Alliance Adventure) had transported to a local lodge. We are very happy with our choice to supplement with some food from home, because there will be stretches in the next two weeks where we will need to have our own food. We totally could have just had our ice axes and crampons sent to Lukla as well, but were under the impression we might have needed them in the first three weeks. Nope, not needed at all. We’ve been carrying them for no reason! So, we loaded up with 5 days of food and set off around noon to hike on towards Namche.
We didn’t realize we’d be timing it the way we did, but it isn’t necessary to hike through Lukla if you don’t have a reason to go there. Ideally, I think mailing stuff to Namche would have been better, but we aren’t sure if that’s possible because it would require a porter. Our agent was just easily able to get our duffle bag of food to a local hotel in Lukla, so it worked out.
Once again we had rain for the afternoon. This was heavier rain than we’ve had though. There was a permit checkpoint just as we left Lukla and this was one we needed to pay for. We are so skeptical, and it seemed so informal, that we did question it at first, but it was legit.
Being stopped for a permit purchase. Notice the guard dog;)
We just hiked a few more hours to Phakding for the night. We stopped there because that’s where Griggs was! Remember he left us two weeks ago due to a mystery illness zapping his energy. He recovered and hiked a bit in this area after being in Kathmandu for a few days. He missed ~140mi/225km of the hike unfortunately.
Fun to see how porters cover up in the rain and have their umbrellas on top and hiking sticks for support when they take breaks.
For those of you into specifics, Griggs will in no way claim this as a complete hike if he walks the rest of the way with us across Nepal. He wants to go back to complete the section he missed. This won’t be his last visit to Nepal, and he for sure has those miles on his list of things to do in the future. To continue his bad luck, two days ago, he got a horrible case of giardia. He was going to meet us in Namche, but had to stop in Phakding because he was so sick with diarrhea and vomiting. He’s on the mend after taking Tinidazole. Sorry, I was distracted and didn’t get a welcome back photo of Griggs. I did get one from a distance while eating in the dining hall.
From Puiya to Phakding, there were constant services and guest houses like pictured above.
We stayed at the Buddha Lounge, and were lucky to be the only ones. They had a big crowd last night. Tomorrow, we have a morning hike to the bigger town of Namche where we will take a solid 24hrs to rest and recharge.
Although Lukla and Namche are oriented towards trekkers and climbers, look behind the facade to see that the locals still live a traditional Sherpa life. Although busy, for us this hike to Everest base camp was the trip of a lifetime. We loved being surrounded by the massive peaks, the clean air, the rough lodges. Most of us will never duplicate the high adventures of Wired, but to experience this remarkable landscape and society, the base camp trek is a good bet. We did it a few years ago when we were in our early 70’s. You have to be a little unhinged to take the flight in a tin bucket from Katmandu to Lukla, however. The airport runway is downright scary.
Go Erin, you are amazing.
Yes, that airport is crazy! Traveling in this region has been interesting after being in the more remote parts of Nepal. I like what I’m seeing in the diversity of age as well!
Very cool to see Lukla aside from just the airport which I’ve seen in so many pictures. It sure seems like they’d have to land and take off perfectly every time to avoid disaster!
So, now we know how to wrangle a mile in Nepal, by wielding a hiking pole.
And the perfect Erin smile over the perfect chocolate ? milkshake!!
After following your travels, I am well aware of the value of a chocolate milkshake.
I really feel for Griggs…
Yes, it was very much worth every penny for that boost the milkshake gave me.
Happy to see Griggs back with you. I’ve had giardia before (I live in rural Asia most of the year for work) and it’s awful. I hope he continues to recover his strength quickly.
It’s really interesting to see all your photos of the everyday life of the Nepalese people in the countryside. Such a cultural adventure as well as a hiking adventure. I’m sure the local people appreciate the developing road connections, even if the visiting hikers still want the traditional trails!
Glad you could get your beloved chocolate milkshake!
p.s. the bags of chips (that you mentioned a few days ago) are puffy/hyper-inflated because of the elevation, but the contents are still delicious!
Yes, all the things we brought over here are also inflated and we poke holes in them to make more room in our food bags:)
Bad weather can close the airport for 1-3 days. Everything is transported by foot or air, including ice cream and beer. There are 100s of trekkers daily. Fall and Spring are the best seasons.
I’m glad that you showed them how to make a real chocolate milkshake. Now they’ll have a new menu item and they’ll be in debted to Wired the Chocolate Milkshake Drinker! It was priceless just to see you smile.
I’m hoping tomorrows post has positive news for Mr. Griggs….. blessings.