EBC Day 1, Lukla – Phakding
We have about an hour in Lukla, the gate to the Everest Base Camp trek and other destinations. We stroll through the street which are full of life. The planes seems to be coming in with a great frequency, and there are dozens of people setting their first steps on the trail. The same amount of people seems to be coming back. And then, of course, there are the locals offering merchandise to both directions of the traffic.
Once we return to the tea house, I’m surprised to see a group wearing “horská služba” jackets. I go to say hi and find out that they are indeed a group of mountain rescue professionals from Czech Republic, and they are on their way to climb Mera Peak. I wish them good luck, they express the same, asking about our trip. We don’t have time to go into many details; our porters arrived and it is time for our departure.
Nearly immediately we begin to head downhill. The trail is rough, uneven, and full of obstacles, might they be roots, rocks, crumbling steps or porters who as a common courtesy always have right of the way, and yaks who enjoy the same privilege, even though it is for a completely different reason.
We are surrounded by fields. Every household grows variety of vegetables, majority of which they use for their own consumption. Not everybody leaves for the winter, we are told, and those who stay have to make sure to have a reserve of staples to last them until the next season. Flowers are also common. I doubt the locals can afford the luxury of a flower garden so I suspect many of them grow wild, except for the ones near tea houses where they seem to be placed strategically to make customers feel welcome and lure them in.
Lunch consists of fried potatoes and mo-mos. And of course more lemon tea, which for the remainder of our trek remains my favorite.
The weather starts coming in in the afternoon. We are still several kilometers shy of our destination when the clouds roll in, there is a light drizzle that follows. We learn this is the typical weather pattern for this time of the year, sunny in the morning with clouds taking over in the afternoons. Rain is not as common, despite the threatening appearance of the clouds, there is usually no precipitation. But not today. Today the rain picks up as we arrive at Phakding and prevents us from an exploratory walk through the village. Instead we settle for a cup of hot chocolate and a great chat with Robyn and Gabe, a couple from Australia whom we met during a welcome event our agency organized in Kathmandu. Their journey is shorter than ours, due to health concerns they do not plan to venture above Tengboche. This means we have next couple of days to enjoy their company.