I wasn’t able to post this yesterday as the wifi in Phakding on the way to Everest base camp wasn’t working. I never ever thought I’d write that sentence. I digress.
We left the hotel at 5:30 in the morning. It was dark and chilly, but we were excited to finally begin our trek towards Everest base camp. I was also rather happy that I’d opted for long johns, because did I mention it was chilly?
We made our way to the airport. Fortunately there was little traffic; the streets were empty save for a car or two, and most store owners hadn’t even begun the process of opening up their shops for the day. I couldn’t help but smile as we wound our way through the city, knowing that today was the day we’d finally get to the mountain.
After getting our tickets, going through security, and completing the other necessary steps required to fly these days, we boarded our plane. As the sun was rising over the mountains, we prepared to take off. The plane was an 18 seater, and actually rather comfortable. Rick and I were fortunate enough to have front row seats – giving us a great view of the cockpit and whatever views the pilots had.
Before long we were airborne, soaring above the city and towns that dotted the countryside along our route. The scenery was spectacular. After a short flight we approached Lukla airport. For those who have been following along, Lukla airport has the dubious distinction of being the world’s most dangerous airport. Its runway is about 500m long.
We could see the runway through the cockpit windows. Now let me just say, reading that the runway is 500m long and seeing it with your own eyes as you’re hurtling towards it in a glorified lawn-dart are two very different things. The approach and landing were incredible – I’m sure from a technical standpoint, but more importantly because we landed smoothly and I’m here to write about it.
With the ground once again firmly under our feet, we began our trek to our first destination – a small village known as Phakding (2653m above sea level) about a two hour hike away.
The village was not what I was expecting. Nor was our first lodge. Wifi, gourmet coffee, and the like. If this is roughing it, I think I could get used to it.
Tomorrow the trek gets serious. A longer day of hiking, steeper inclines, and an ascent to 3400m – every step closer and closer to Everest base camp. I can’t wait.