Into the mystical lands around Mt.Everest
When a life long dream is about to be filled, sleep the night before can be more than a little problematic. Add to that the hideously early departure and by the time we got to the airport we were dazed and confused but desperatley excited about going to the Khumbu region to see Everest and the Imja Glacier.
Getting on the plane -Harder than you might think.
Our first challenge though was not altitude or cold or isolation. It was getting Eri onto the tiny aircraft that was going to take us to Lukla. As we rode in the bus across the tarmac, we went past progressively smaller Yeti Airline( I lovethat name) planes and with each passing machine Eri’s excitement turned more and more to fear. When the bus finallypulled up next to the little 16 seater it took more than a little convincing that getting out of the safe bus and into the not so safe plane was actually a great idea.
Bless her she overcame her fears and finally got in, fear painted all over her face. we were lucky enough to secure a left hand seat which afforded us the most magnificant views of the snow capped Himalaya once we got airborne. With Eri sat behind me ( with the most sweat soaked palms i have ever seen) we weavedour way through the ever increasing peaks, skimming over small settlements and almost glancing sheer cliff faces.
Landing in Lukla
All this paled into insignificance when we came into land at Lukla. Even though i have been through the rogours of getting a pilots licence and know the theory and statistics that back flying as an incredibly safe way to travel, nothing can prepare you for landing at this airport perched half way up a cliff face.
Alas I dont know how to truly describe the experience but suffice to say as a truly comfortabel flyer i still scrabled out of the plane with shaky legs and beating heart, already dreading the take off in 11 days time.
Self control and some dignity returned. We quickly found our guide, luggage and bearings and began to marvel at the beautiful scenery surrounding us. Well we did for about two minutes until the fog and drizzel rolled in. A constant companion for the next few days and a major cause for concern.
Formailities concluded we set off on our first leg. A short, uneventful, 2 hour stroll to Phadkung, our resting place for the first night. Unfortunately we were clothed in fog and rain most of the way and couldn’t see our surroundings to well. We would have to wait till our return to fully appreciate the beauty of this valley. That said we were in good spirits when we collapsed into to bed at 7.30 that evening. Tired but excited about what was ahead.