March 25, 2015 - Fly to Lukla and trek to Phakding

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March 25, 2015 - Fly to Lukla and trek to Phakding

When the alarm went off at 4:30am, I immediately thought of Wongchu’s stern words the night before about being the first group out to the airport so our team could be on the first flight to Lukla.  There was a mix of nervous anticipation and excitement as we gathered in the Yak and Yeti Hotel.  The streets of Kathmandu were nearly empty as we headed in our bus to the airport.  The airport was bustling with other travelers and we joined the line of people waiting patiently in line for the airport to open.  We went quickly through two security lines and to our great pleasure we achieved our goal of boarding the first flight to Lukla!  The weather was overcast and visibility was low at the Kathmandu airport, which was not confidence inspiring when thinking ahead to landing at one of the world’s highest airstrips.  This trepidation was not warranted as the clouds broke and visibility increased as we descended into the Khumbu Valley on final approach.  The incredibly smooth landing was met with applause from the passengers.  After disembarking the group gathered for tea at a local tea house.  Our luggage joined the group there as well, was packed up on the yaks, and sent ahead to meet us at our day’s destination of Phakding.  The group hiked at a comfortable pace and conversation flowed easily.  On our short lunch break we enjoyed copious amounts of lemon tea while gazing at our first snow capped, massive peak. We reached Phakding shortly after lunch, enjoyed some time in the beautiful courtyard, and gathered in the tea house for a lecture on high-altitude and travel medicine.  Class dismissed for a late afternoon nap before enjoying our first group dinner together.  After an amazing first day in the cool mountain air, we head to bed to finish recovering from our various degrees of jet lag.  Tomorrow we will ascend to Namche!