A steep walk in the hills

The morning sky promises a beautiful day and before too long the sun is making it quite hot for walking.
We’ve started out at 7:45 from the tea house and are making steady progress. So steady that we arrive at our lunch spot at 10:30. Technically a bit early for lunch, but with no more tea houses between here and Namche, there is little choice, but to tuck into some food.

After an hour we get going again and not long after the hard work starts. First there is a steep climb up to the swing bridge that crosses the Dudh Kosi, and then there is the endless climb up to Namche itself. The switchbacks don’t seem to stop and the steps are steep, but persevering and resting at regular intervals, we get to the top of the hill and from there we can walk more easily into Namche itself.

Namche still looks as beautiful as ever and is also showing signs of new constructions. Our tea house, The Nest, is not far from entering into Namche and it is great to arrive and sit down for a cup of tea.

Stage 2 done.

Lift off

Flights to Lukla had not been going for about six days now, due to the weather, so I wasn’t sure how things would go for our scheduled flight at 6am this morning. But the skies cleared in Lukla and before I knew it we were onthe small plane and taking off. Half an hour later we landed in Lukla without any fuss.

In Lukla my guide Ram was reunited with his brother Prabhu, who will work as porter. After breakfast at The Nest, we set out for Phakding, a three-hour walk away. Walking through Lukla it appeared more polished than 12 years ago, but it still has that “here commences the adventure” feel.

We walked along the trail with the Dudh Kosi, the milk river thundering below. It was warming up quickly and I was glad to have chosen a loose shirt for the first day. It only got warmer as we descended, ascended and descended until we got to the lodge in Phakding. Stage 1 completed. Now a whole afternoon for reading, photography and resting. Bliss.

Small road, big problems

That is how Harka, who drove me from Hetauda back to Kathmandu described the road we were on. It was a succinct and fitting description.

When I first started looking into how to get from Kathmandu to Hetauda and back to visit my sponsor child and the community, the Dakshinkhali Road came up and came accompanied with pictures that made me say “Hell no!”. Considering the alternatives and bearing in mind the advice from the locals that became “Hell yes!”.

Fortunately I’m not that jumpy at crazy traffic anymore after living in Brazil for four years and I had great faith in the drivers both ways. But the journey was interesting and in particular the way back amply demonstrated what could go wrong on a road like that.

Most of the time the road is single lane, it has many hairpin bends and traverses steep terrain with gasp inducing drops. Part of it was also badly affected by landslides during the recent flooding event. Throw in a few big buses and trucks and some mud for good measure and you have a neat scenario. Did I mention cows?

But the scenery was glorious and the trip was totally worth it and it was terrific to see my sponsor child and her family, the community and all the good work that Plan is doing there. It’s very impressive and inspiring and is the perfect start to my trip.

Tomorrow, if all goes well, I fly to Lukla to commence the trek. But this afternoon the rains have returned, so I’m not too sure what that will do to the flights to Lukla. The weather has not been good there. I have just ducked back to the hotel after lunch. Better to spend this time organizing my bag than getting wet out there.