After our spectacular flight into Lukla we sat for a couple of hours taking in the scenery and watching aeroplanes and helicopters landing and taking off from the tiny little airport. I had forgotten to bring a waterproof jacket so I wondered into Lukla village and bought a fake ‘North Face’ one for £9! This proved to be very useful as that afternoon it rained very heavily and to my surprise (and relief) it did the job and kept me dry!
Once all of the group had arrived we trekked on a mostly downhill track to our lodge in Phakding where we would be spending the night.
It was at this lodge that I caused chaos! The toilet in my accommodation block was horrible as it was basically a hole in the ground so my friend Matt said I could use the one in his block which had a proper seat! There were two cubicles, one for men and one for ladies, however I was desperate so I nipped into the ladies cubicle, while the other one was in use. Matt had already been told off for using this one by Jackie, one of the ladies in our group but I carried on regardless (I was soon to regret this!). Unfortunately, the flushes here are extremely weak, so after I’d finished what I needed to do, I tried to flush the toilet, but no matter how hard I tried it just wouldn’t go down and in my panic the flush handle broke! I then heard footsteps outside so I put the toilet seat down and it came off in my hand! I popped my head out hoping nobody would be there and I was mortified to find that Jackie was waiting to use the toilet! I tried to explain that the flush wasn’t working properly as I did a walk of shame down the corridor and a couple of the other ladies poked their heads out of their rooms to see what all the fuss was about! It took five people and a lot of gagging to rectify what I had done and finally flush the toilet! Little did I know that my ‘toilet disaster’ story would spread around the whole group and I have got myself a bit of a reputation! Luckily, Jackie and her friends saw the funny side and it gave everyone something to smile about! In fact, the altitude here goes to your head a bit and me and some of the others were crying with laughter!
After dinner, I went with 3 of the guys from our group to a little ‘pub’ down the road for a game of pool. This was amazing in itself as in order for the pool table to have been there, some poor person or animal must have carried it as all that led up to the hut were narrow, rocky paths! We had one can of beer and that was enough to make us tipsy and send us into fits of giggles again at the evenings events! The altitude certainly makes a cheap night out!
The next day we got up at 7am for a breakfast of scrambled eggs on toast before starting the ascent to the Sherpa capital of Namche Bazaar. The first part of the trek was described as ‘easy’ but when you’re trying to adjust to the altitude, it was far from it and it was about to get a whole lot harder! We crossed a number of suspension bridges, one which was spectacularly high! It wobbled up and down as we walked across and was only just wide enough for two people to pass each other! Either side of us was the most dramatic scenery of tree covered mountains that rose up from from the river rapids flowing in the gorge below! I almost got trampled by some donkeys that were crossing the bridge carrying containers of water up to the village!
We were already at 2610m, which is much higher than the UK’s highest mountain at 1345m (Ben Nevis) and we then began the killer ascent up to Namache Bazaar (3400m). It would have been an extremely difficult climb from sea level but with the altitude it was as difficult as running my treadmill marathon! My watch told me that my heart rate had gone up to 158 bpm and my respiratory rate was 60 bpm at times!
The incredible thing was that I was struggling with my 10kg rucksack, while the local people (known as porters) were carrying 2-3 of our 15-20kg luggage bags up the mountain like it was a walk in the park!
We arrived, exhausted, at our lodge where we would be staying for the the next two nights to acclimatise. So far, I hadn’t taken my anti- altitude sickness tablets, but I was certainly going to start taking them now!
We had dinner before heading to bed for an early night – The next day was going to be a very special day – we would be getting our first glimpse of EVEREST!