Everest Gokyo Ri Trek - Flying to Lukla
Padam quickly hired two porters for about $7.50/day a piece. We got started quickly under wonderfully sunny skies. The temperature was an amazingly warm 55 degrees; perfect trekking weather. Shortly after we started one of the porters made a "switch." It wasn’t going to be himself a reasonably well speaking individual that came, but his brother. I was thinking to myself that the original porter knew English too well to be hauling gear up the mountain on his back. I even doubted that it was really his brother, but as it turned out he was.
We started out again, making good time, except of course when we were trapped behind yak caravans. Even with their political problems, progress over the past four years was evident. There were new guest houses, more farming, and a bridge that replaced a narrow path that had been washed away by a landslide.
I wasn’t surprised to see the incredible number of prayer wheels and stones, but was surprised how freshly painted they were. It was fun retracing the steps I had walked four years earlier at the start of my trekking experiences. As we walked, the clouds materialized and the temperature dropped quickly as we approached the first major village Phakding. Last time we were here, this is where we stopped for the night, but today we were going on to the next village of Monjo.
It wasn't that far to Monjo and it was relatively flat so we had a nice lunch. The girl serving us was fifteen and ran the establishment while the owners were off in Katmandu. It was funny to see Chuck order and go through the same routine I did four years earlier. He looked at the menu and saw all the wonderful options. Of course he wanted to order them. Padam then explained we should have soup, but Chuck didn’t like soup. Padam then explained that most dishes took two hours to prepare. I remember the same speech being made to me by my guide and had to laugh. On the mountain it speeds meals up considerably if you order the same items. Padam said to me privately that we must get Chuck "used to the mountain life."
A side note, the prices really jumped from the last time I was here. It was not longer the great bargain it once was.
The rest of the day’s hike was relaxing, almost totally flat. I got the best laugh of the day when a young boy came up to me. I expected him to ask for candy or pens, but instead he was direct. “Got money? Give me ten rupees!” I informed him, to his dismay, that I needed my money to eat on the trail.
At the end of the hike was a nice little climb, bit of a preview for the next day. We got to the top and found the village with guest houses. The first was surprisingly full, but I think that was because very few were open. We stayed in the next house where they had one building to sleep and another with a wood stove to stay warm while we ate.
I really struggled staying awake until dinner. The previous day's stress had wiped me out. I ate a light dinner and then crashed at 8:00 PM. It was a shame, because the owner had climbed Everest three times, spoke great English and would have been very interesting to chat with. His picture was even in a book he showed us on climbing.
The story continues...