30 September, 2009 : Flight from Kathmandu to Lukla
Group KTM airport
Chandra Kudsia: My Tale of the Trail
The hiking trail started from Lukla – literally from the airport. It stared going down, down, down………aren’t we supposed to be going up towards higher elations? Oh well we have to go down to the river Dudh Kosi (Milk River) and then the climb would veer in the upward direction. Now a trail in my world is a dirt road going through a forest with some stones and boulders and an occasional steep hill. But here, the trail was nearly all stones, small and large stones of all shapes and sizes, capable of twisting your ankle if you made the slightest mistake. And to make it even more challenging, there were big drops of a foot or more. As we traveled the weather started
getting hot, where all you needed was t-shirt, sunglasses and sunscreen and the will power to get on with it. At last we reached the river and what a beautiful river it is. One can track this river to the base of Everest and downwards it feeds into the Holy river of India – The Ganga. Once at the river, we started our climb upwards but it was not quite upwards, it kept going up and then down, kind of teasing you and wearing you out. But the scenery got more spectacular and we had to criss cross the river a number of times via suspensions bridges high above the river. One of our teammates suffers from acrophobia and had to walk behind me.
Do I hear bells?
Going up the trails suddenly there was this unique singsong of bells one could hear, and they were getting louder. Get over to the side of the mountain said our leader. And lo and behold there came these gigantic buffalo type animals name Zos – a cross between a yak and a cow with big curved horns navigating the narrow turns of the trail coming very close to you. These animals despite their size and the load they carry, manage to turn at the right time to avoid us and find their footing perfectly on the rocky trail. Later on we met more and more of them and it was always an impressive sight. It was amazing to see the adaptation of these animals to the environment.
The Go Slow Mantra
The professional photographer in our team, seeing me how I was walking, advised me to really go slow and synchronize my step with my breathing. I found that to be excellent advice.
The upward climb
We slowly moved up gaining some elevation. After about four hours of intensive hiking we stopped for lunch and that was a relief. And then we started again. Sanjay suggested and I readily agreed to off load my backpack to a Sherpa and suggested I use walking sticks and these two changes helped me a lot. After another two hours of hiking, we were still according to our leaders 1 – 1.5 hrs away from our intended stop. I was getting tired. Decision was made to stop for the day and check into the nearby lodge.
The next day was supposed to be much tougher and steeper hike. I was begini8ng to have second thoughts if I will be able to make it all the way. If I had known the hiking trails in the Himalaya are all full of stone (now Sanjay tells me that all Mountain trails are like this) I most likely would have told him that I would wait and go for the north Side of Everest the following year.
The next day
I knew what to expect, I was surprised that I no longer felt as tired as the previous day. The trail went up and down initially and then we had a steep climb to Namche Bazaar. We managed to do it in less time that expected. I felt just fine. I guess serendipity has brought me here and I am beginning to enjoying it.