Descending and New Years in Lukla

Waking up the next morning, still riding the high from base camp the day prior, we set out down the mountain and to meet up with out friends. The usual plan for getting off the mountain is to take 3 long days hiking back to Lukla. Given our track record with travel arrangements, the uncertainty of flights from Lukla, and our deadline of Jan 3rd for leaving Nepal, we decided to make the hike down in 2 days rather than 3. Bishnu wasn’t so sure about this plan, but we convinced him to let us try it anyways. (When asked about this later he told us, “I can make the hike in 2 days…. but I’m not sure about you.”) Determimed to make it to Namche by the end of the day, we set off early. Two and a half hours later we rendezvoused with a Brett and Kyle in the town of Dughla and then continued our descent. Now, you would think the the hike down a mountain is all downhill…. but you would be wrong. What had been some pleasant downhill segments during the ascent now became massive hills for us to climb in order to get off the mountain. That being said, they were surprisingly easy to tackle. Whether it was Bishnu driving us along at a healthy pace, the air getting easier to breath as we descended, or the fact the we had finally reached a decent level of fitness – we managed the hills with little difficulty. 11 hours and 32km after leaving Gorak Shep we made it into Namche for the evening (with only an hour of hiking in the dark) and were all to excited for some good food and a hot shower.

The next morning we continued our descent, crossed all the suspended bridges that had previously terrified us, had a nice stroll along the river, and then made the final ascent into Lukla. Our journey was complete! We had survived the Everest Base Camp trek! Now it was time to properly celebrate with a few cold beers. Conveniently, we had arrive in Lukla on New Year’s Eve, and were ready to go out and find some locals to celebrate with. Bishnu led us to a “Scottish” bar that was Scottish in name only. Regardless, we got ourselves a few beers and enjoyed a couple of rounds of billiards. Before too long, the locals filed in, some music started playing over a big speaker, and the party really started. We lasted until all of about 10pm before calling it a night and turning in to catch our early flight off the mountain in the morning.

Brett, the pool shark, running the table.

Khumbu Kölsch, Nepal’s first craft beer to celebrate our success.

The next morning, we were lucky enough to catch our airline’s first flight off the mountain. After the airline weighed our bags each of the passengers we hopped on, the plane and prepared for take off. The take off was really interesting. We taxied to the top of the hill before turning to face downhill. The piolet then locked the brakes and revved the engines. With engines at full speed he popped the brakes and we shot off down the hill (much like the beginning of the roller coaster “outer limits/flight of fear” at King’s Island) we lift off the ground about 50 feet (no joke) before the end of the runway and were on our way back to Kathmandu.

Once we landed, we were in for a pleasant surprise…. all of our baggage had finally arrived in Kathmandu (thanks Dad for all your hard work on tracking them down)! After 2 weeks we were finally reunited with our long lost things and we couldn’t have been happier about it.

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