The gods were smiling on us today.
We feasted in the hallowed Rum Doodle last night, surrounded with paper Yeti footprints inscribed by all those who’ve climbed to Everest Base Camp before us. It’s a bar frequented by Himalayan climbers since the 19850s. Our table sat below faded photographs and signatures of mountaineering greats like Chris Bonington and Edmund Hillary.
Breakfast at 6am and a call from Tirtha: a flight had left for Lukla and we were due to leave at 7am, so we scrambled back to the airport. The flight was astoundingly beautiful, rising above the noise and intensity of Kathmandu to see the fields unfolding around three storey houses across the valley, and numerous strange conical towers that turned out to be the brick kilns surrounding Patan.
Then suddenly we were over low forested hills, with small terraced fields surrounding small hamlets beside small streams. As we flew north, clouds billowed up from the east with a few dramatic thunderheads looming above the plane like giants. The ridges became
sharper and slopes steeper, houses more scattered and the rivers larger, whiter with turbulence and rushing waterfalls.
Peering out the window, suddenly the ground rushed up beneath the plane as we topped the ridgeline and landed on the tiniest airstrip imaginable.
There was an immediate sense of fresh air and water. Stone houses with brightly coloured shutters and door frames made it feel like a Swiss alpine village.
An easy half day’s walk brought us to Phakding, and our first night on the trek.