Two nights arriving in darkness on the Everest Trail
My own oxygen high came with some stupid risks too. Due to my broken boots we could only go slowly. Yet our side trips to see things like the Nepalese Tahr kept us occupied. As a result we arrived into Namche Bazaar just as darkness was setting in.
We sat with the Italians and drank hot chocolate by candle light around a meek wooden stove with a young German who was trying to make it to Gokyo with his guide. Tails of snow, ice and costs lead us well passed dinner. He then told us of some crazy Japanese man he’d met sleeping out in an arctic tent looking for wildlife.
Narayan and I looked at each other and remembered another crazy Japanese man years ago … it could never be the same man. Then again, it was Nepal, so it would be no surprise if it was.
The Italians recalled meeting another guy wanting to climb Everest in the off-season. A strange man with nothing more than a single backpack. We concluded he was already back in Kathmandu in the Rumdoodle with a bottle of Kukuri rum.
The conversation reminded me of old school backpacking. When people had to ask where the good places were, how to get there and the characters they met on the way
The next day we left early. It wasn’t going to be possible to make it all the way to Lukla in one day. Not at the rate I held us back. Day 12 we would be leaving Lukla even if it meant trekking at night. Quite why we were rushing I don’t know.
Maybe it was the rush of oxygen, maybe it was the “been there, done that” effect. Or maybe, it was the adrenaline rush of trekking at night.
Trekking at night on the Everest Base camp trail
As the sun dipped low I felt that euphoric mix of adrenaline and oxygen kick in. My mind was sharper. I could think two steps ahead. My body was on auto pilot. We left the Italians behind and marched on into the night.
Snow and ice were still on the ground, but the trail at this end was well-worn and the there was little danger of slipping.
Little danger that is until the skies went from dark blue, to navy and finally black with swirls of stars and faint rifts of the milky way.
Trees surrounded us now, and they blocked out the moons brief glow as clouds moved in to throw us into a near pitch black trail. Head torches on I realized why a high-powered one is essential at for night trekking.
Push ahead at all costs
Narayan was near laughing at this stage. It was a complete turn around from a few days ago. I was stripped down to wearing only a shirt and although felt the cold air it no longer penetrated. Being on autopilot with excess oxygen pumping through our veins meant we just get going along the trails.
Before me my weak head torch warned of lose rocks, and hidden dips. A long cold steel suspension bridge rattled away in the darkness. Finally distant yellow lights on a hill popped into view. We had made it …
Phakding at night
The final hill was a struggle as we hadn’t eaten since lunch. Adding to this there’d been a late flight arrival at Lukla. A group of Koreans were making their way to an expensive hotel lit up like a 5 star generals tent. They pushed and shoved along the narrow trail like the stubborn Yaks that followed them.
Their porters kindly whispering apologies on their behalf with the tales of a late flight.
“I am reminded of how we are getting closer to civilization again.”
Meeting more travelers and sharing stories
Back at the same lodge where we first started our trek from I treated myself to an expensive steak. Not so good, but it was a reward. We were the only guests aside from a female priest also on the way back, but sensibly taking her time.
She was studying religious history at the Vatican and I has hooked for the night. So more stories of what happened on our treks became mingled with the human element of religions answers born from historical evidence.
It’s here in Nepal that I truly enjoy the company of other travelers.
There is no talk of package tours. What food they like to eat. No murmurings of what’s out of date in a guidebook. What they say to do. How much cheaper they got it for than you. No talk of beer nor idle chat about cool places to see.
Here things are different. And, I’m not quite sure why. Maybe they are not travelers, but self challengers. Or maybe I just don’t want to say why I prefer the people I meet here compared to other places. All I know is that I do prefer it. By far.
The last day on the Everest Trail
Tomorrow there would be no rest. We needed to get into Lukla well before the first flight and try to reserve a ticket to fly out. I’ll be honest and say I would have preferred the company and conversation of the Russian Priest than a morning of trekking.
But like nearly all interesting people you meet, it’s usually only for a fleeting moment.
Instead we had a distraction ahead of us.
We were about to fly off the side of a cliff on one of the shortest and highest runway in the world!
Everest Base Camp Trek Day 12 (Lukla at dawn, and a video of the crazy flight!)
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