Our last day on the trail was all but ordinary, ranging from oohing and ahhing at fabulous mountain views to clutching the side of a suspension bridge saying "om mani padme hum." But i'm getting ahead of myself.
Our morning began with instructions from Papa Phula to eat a hearty breakfast, as the uphill march downhill (?) promised to be a good days work. And it was. Weather was perfect – sunny with a breeze and our last views of the Khumbu inspired as promised. Midway through our march out, we were halfway across a long suspension bridge when a group of ziopkios laden with wide loads of hay and commanded by a 6 year old girl charged across, got spooked and we felt the bridge tilt to one side. Then the yak/cow hybrids ran at some of us and calamity ensued. By the end of the event, our multicasualty scenario revealed two mikaru victims of barely sublethal bovine assault. Both sustained nearly exsanguinating wounds (ok ...minor abrasions) and wounded pride. Luckily the suspension held and none of us ended up in the cold water below. yikes!
Onward up one last hill to Lukla, where our gracious hosts at the Khumbu Resort served tea and hot showers to soothe our rattled souls. After spiffing up for the evening, we enjoyed our last Khumbu mean, adult beverages and ceremoniously recognized our guides and porters with praise and tips. (Kunga got an extra special present ...) We danced to some Nepali music, then moved our party to the Irish pub where the disco ball and booming bass dance tunes motivated all to gyrate despite their sore joints. (A hamstring or two may have been pulled during a Van Halen song.) Raging went till midnight when the entire lodge was treated to a 45 minute episode of lock picking and wall scaling as Kunga saved the day breaking in to Jons locked room. We're pretty sure everyone in the lodge was amused. 445am came early, but we walked on to our waiting flights and had the quickest return to KTM imaginable. Suddenly we were reintegrated to traffic, smog and honking horns. Everyone began planning their next adventure or trip home, with one farewell dinner to go before scattering to the winds.
I've led a fair number of treks in the Khumbu but was so impressed by the group bonding, mutual respect and STRONG consistent hiking of this amazing group. We learned alot about mountain medicine, got 100% of the group to base camp, and 100% back down with smiles. I hope to see everyone back on a future trek in Nepal! (How about this one?
Congratulations to "Galloping George" Wortley, Chugalong Chuck Waller, Sarah "card shark" Dennison, Phil "the Queen" Doyle, John "Selfie" Ahrendsen, Allison "food dustbin" Fine, Sarah Frances "Frances is not my last name" McClure, Hannah "toothpaste mooch and bestie roomie" Dennison, Mike "Musa Muse" Mclaughlin, and Rodolfo "honorary medic" Faria. Tashi delek!