Day 1: Into the mountains we go

In Travel by LauraLeave a Comment

I didn’t finish writing yesterday.

I’d been a ball of anxiety all morning and – there we were – stepping onto the smallest passenger plane I’d ever seen.

Suddenly, I felt calm. Those are the moments that make you smile in retrospect. The universe, in that moment, was mine and we’d surely be fine.

Flying into sunrise over the Himalayas was nothing shy of extraordinary.

We were floating high above nothingness. Peaks floated all around, sinking into fluffs of clouds and mist below. It was magic.

As my anxiety returned, we hit turbulence. The tiny plane bounced about as if the sky could throw it in any direction it chose. I grabbed the seat in front of me and anchored my mind to the plane. Stability. Lightness. I calmed as the turbulence stopped.

Peering through the cockpit window, all I could see was runway. Vertical runway.

All things considered, the landing was pretty fantastic. As the wheels touched the ground, all I could think was “slow down, slow down, slow down.”

We unloaded and stared in shock at our survival.

The trip had officially begun.

We stopped for a quick breakfast, then immediately took off on the first day’s hike.

Day 1 – about 5 liters
Day 2 – 5.5 liters
Day 3 – 4.5 liters

Our first steps through Lukla were full of awe. Shops dotted the streets offering last-minute chances to stock survival basics. In no time, we were breezing along a rolling trail through the woods.

The fresh air was a shocking shift from the thick smog of Kathmandu. My anxiety had almost completely passed. Finally, at home in the mountains.

The crew agreed to walk further past our planned stop in the interest of escaping crowded trails the next day. It would turn out to be one of the better decisions – but that’s for later. Little did we know, the village we were relocating to was more of a shanty lodge – and we’d pass through many more villages to get there. All uphill.

One village after another passed as Lakpa led us on. It felt as though we were climbing forever. Twisting and turning up stairs and paths through the woods. Dodging donkeys and yak constantly.

Still, it was magic.

Finally, Lakpa turned into a small gate on the left of the road. One by one, I saw everyone ahead of me file in. I’d never been so proud to reach a finish line in 7th place.

We ate a late lunch even though, at 2 pm, I was hardly hungry. Then, instead of sleeping, we ordered a giant pot of tea and attempted to play cards until dinner. Sleep-deprived and delusional, that went pretty fucking bad.

Katie and Linda tried to teach us slap jack – but I totally couldn’t get it. I was slapping everything or nothing and lost with the full deck more than once. Thankfully, we all laughed hard – calling a Jack an 11, shouting random numbers, failing entirely. It was fun.

Bedtime was the notable bit of excitement that first night.

We all settled into our sleeping bags on hard beds in tiny rooms. It was exceptionally basic with a small window, simple door and paper thin walls of fiber board.

Down the hall, all 13 of us shared a single toilet and sink. No heat. Little lighting.

I slept like a rock.