24 Mar 2009: Trek started...

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This blog was written by Rita James of Anacortes, WA.

Today was the day to shift perspective. The flight from Kathmandu to Lukla was smooth - a portal between the incredible energy of the city and the softer in-breath of the mountains. Our trek began quietly with our group of 17 having breakfast; and then one by one we found our pace on the trail. For me, my focus started with my feet and the rhythm and pleasure of walking a trail again . . . breathing fresh air for the first time in days . . . then immersion into the mountains all around us (hills according to the Sherpas). All I know is that at times I had to put my head all the way back to see the peaks above - I have no adequate point of reference to compare it to. It is clear that the mountains are now in charge, and we are guests. As the trail went down and then up, images and sensations came from every direction - bird and wind sounds, smells of pine and smoke, the color of rhododendrons and magnolia dotting the hillsides, children playing on the dusty streets and gardens surrounded by ancient stone walls . . . and of course the people - the 5 Sherpas, 10 porters (and 4 beasts of burden) who help guide and carry us each step.

As I watch my stuff and supplies for the trek go by on their backs, I am humbled by their strength . . . I know we are in good hands. For myself, I am trying to open my mind to every detail and I eagerly anticipate we have 5 Sherpas, 10 porters, 4 yaks. All the trails and experiences that await. We sleep tonight in Phakding at the Tashi Taki Lodge at 9000 feet - half way to Base Camp for a woman from the Washington coast (elevation 0). Rita James.