We arrived today in Namche and its a breathtaking place. Mountains tower above us and we are all a bit stunned at just how majestic it is. Having taken 8 days to get here we have more breath than those who flew into Lukla, but there are still moments when an extra breath or two is required.
Two days ago we arrived in Surke, which was the last stop before we caught up with the Lukla fly in crowd. That day we had walked on steep muddy trails and several people slipped in the yak and mule dung of the numerous pack trains. Despite that the rhododendron and pine forests were spectacular in the mist and every now and again we would catch glimpse of the deep gorge we were sidling.
We arrived in Surke with time to spare so most people took the chance to climb 600m to Lukla, where we experienced a bit of culture shock. The airport had been closed for 3 days and the town was seething with tourists getting increasingly anxious. A few helicopters could sneak in under the clouds and seats were available for $US550. We watched a helicopter attempt to lift off, fail, throw out a bag then gain a metre. At that point it hovered from the short flat pad at the top of the runway to the main steeply sloping part where it used gravity to gain speed and lift.
We bought lattes and pastries from the German Bakery at NZ prices before running back down the hill.
The airport opened yesterday, but we stayed ahead of the incoming trekkers. The number of departing trekkers was huge and the trail was like Lambton Quay, except there were a lot more shattered and tired people. Our hotels now have sit down loos and western menus. It almost seems a pity as we had greatly enjoyed the small tea houses where we dined in the kitchen and played with the children.
Today coming up the 600m to Namche was spectacular and I felt high on the views and atmosphere. Possibly this was because we were slightly hypoxic, but I like to think it was the magic of these mountains.
Tomorrow the group splits with most heading for Renjo La. The remainder are going to Gokyo via the lower route.