What a day! Up at 3 am in order to met the team in the hotel lobby for a 4:30 am departure to the Kathmandu airport. They loaded us all into a big bus and I would think the streets of Kathmandu had never been so empty, of course it was 4:45 in the morning. Quickly to the airport, everybody was expecting a minimum of two hours waiting for the flight even if the weather was good. Amazingly we breezed right thru and on our Twin Otters.
The whole crew of 35-ish climbers, guides, staff, etc. was spread over three planes which seat about 18 each. That's 18 with backpacks crammed in like sardines. I had my backpack in my lap for the 40 minute flight to Lukla (9,350 ft.). Nothing to see because it was pretty foggy. Occupationally you would get a glimpse of a tree covered ridge that looked pretty close. The flight was super smooth. To cover the incredible loudness of the plane, I was rocking out to a little Jimi Hendrix. In the groove and no view out the front window I didn't even realize that we were on final approach. For all the is said about this flight the landing was itself also super smooth. No big deal at all - not even exciting. Like I said, the kind of flight I like: uneventful.
The clouds didn't allow us any views either from the air or from Lukla. With everyone there and all our bags delivered, we headed to the Namaste Lodge for breakfast. Banana pancakes and coffee. Oh yeah. And then to the trail.
Heading out the weather was nice, cool and after a while a few rain drops here and there. Dropping down into the valley created by the Dudh Kosi river (translates to milk river because of milky color of the glacier melt) was quite pleasant. The first hour quickly passed and we took our first break at the Alpine Guest House in Cheplung (8,727 ft.). Just after Garrett called out "Two minutes to start moving again!" and rain began to really come down so we all retreated into the guest house to wait out the rain. The story of the storm is told in the dispatch that I typed in while waiting out the big stuff in the second tea-house. Check that out!
After a hot bowl of noddles to warm us up and the hail had turned to just heavy rain, we headed the final hour down to our home for the night in Phakding, the Sunrise Lodge & Restaurant. It's so cool - The very last thing you do is cross this long suspension bridge that leads straight into the lodge.
Straight into a warm, big hang out / dining room with a wood burning stove in the center and lunch was served straight away - so good. Our bags arrived and we set up our rooms. These are in a separate building with no heat, but they do have a private bathroom - cool.
Dinner will be at 6 pm, so right now we are all hanging out. Looking around the room there is like seven people reading on iPads and Kindles, a chess match, a few classic books (classic meaning paper in this case), several folks writing journals with pen, and me with the mobile blogging setup in the corner. All while yet another thunderstorm blows through (but NOTHING like a big one earlier today).
Tomorrow we head up the hill to Namche (11,319 ft.). That should be great fun. Everyone is hoping the rain moves out tonight or at least is lighter as we make our way up the final 600m hill to the village.