3/31/2007

Phakding, Nepal
March 31, 2007

Namaste,

I checked out of my “luxury” hotel this morning for the flight to Lukla. This is the first time in my life I have looked forward to getting out of a hotel and into my tent and sleeping bag. I haven’t slept well but I feel really good. I really enjoyed Kathmandu. We had a great dinner last night–Thai food.

I met my Sherpa yesterday. His name is Tenji Sherpa. He is 24 years old, recently married and has summited Everest 3 times. I was told that he is super strong and could carry me on his back to the summit. After meeting him, I believe this is true. He is short and muscular and looks like a bodybuilder. He is my Nepalese version of Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is very friendly and nice and speaks reasonably good English. I think I am going to like him.

We flew to Lukla (elev. 9,040 ft.) in a Twin Otter operated by Yepi Air. The flight from Kathmandu to Lukla is about 45 minutes. I must admit to being a little nervous when the pilots gave each other high fives upon successful takeoff. Lukla sits on the side of a mountain. The landing strip begins at the edge of a very steep cliff and proceeds uphill the length of a football field to the face of the mountain. The pilots had difficulty navigating through heavy cloud cover with no radar, but we landed safely. All of the expedition gear was loaded on yaks for the carry to Base Camp.

We had a great breakfast, then began our trek from Lukla to Phakding (elev. 8,400 ft.). The trek was wonderful, as Mark said, “This is sweet.” The trail is lined with small stone restaurants and lodges so you can drop your pack and enjoy a cup of hot tea, or cold beer or a good meal. The structures have tin roofs and wood framed windows that are painted in bright colors of blue, red, and green. All of the villages we passed through were super clean and all of the people seemed very friendly and happy. The countryside is stunningly beautiful with rivers, waterfalls, snow capped peaks and flowers and trees in full bloom. The hillsides are terraced where they grow crops. The weather was cool with a slight and welcome breeze. We crossed several extension bridges spanning the Dudh Koshi River.

We arrived in Phakding at 1:40 PM. We are staying at the Sunrise Lodge and Restaurant which is beautiful and clean, both inside and out. Mark and I decided to rent a room rather than stay in the tents. The room costs $7.00 for both of us.

Our Sherpa cooks served us a great dinner of soup, rice, meat, gravy, vegetables and a dessert. Tomorrow morning they will serve us hot tea in our room.

Tomorrow we have a 5 hour hike uphill to Namche Bazaar.

Honestly, it just doesn’t get any better than this. So far, I am loving this adventure.

Thanks to all of you for your prayers and support.