Nate’s Journey: 16 May

I got up at 3AM today, started and finished packing before the van came at 6. I had an extra hour once I had everything squared away, so I spent my time writing for school. Once in the van, we went to pick up the Architects, Engineers and Surveyor from Pumori Engineering.

Our driver made sure to show me how crazy people move in early morning traffic here. I was most impressed by a three point U-turn across 4 to 6ish lanes of traffic. They don’t really delineate lanes in Nepal, I think it would be too distracting from beeping horns while cutting of motor bikes.

We got to the airport a good hour before our flight and got through security just in time to see them put up a sign saying, “Lukla flights delayed due to weather”. I had expected this, since thunderstorms caused me to wake around midnight. We went to a café upstairs to wait for news in a few hours. Enjoying breakfast with the essential small cups of milk tea. Hours of waiting were followed by news that weather had closed Lukla for the day.

An interesting thing I learned about travel in Nepal, is that any missed flights will be bumped to the end of the fly list for the next day, rather than getting precedence. I was confused when we stayed in the airport another couple hours after learning no planes would fly, but it seemed like a good time to keep writing for school.

Eventually Murari came back and told me we would try Heli instead. I had never flown in a helicopter before today, but it is amazingly like flying in dreams. I highly recommend it. Some more waiting happened, and soon we were aloft and cruising for Kathmandu valley’s Eastern rim. Murari later told me that Lukla airport called us two minutes after takeoff. They informed the pilot that Lukla was now closed to helicopters, again due to weather. They let us come anyhow, as we were already on our way. The few pictures I took that did come out decently do no justice to how epic this was. The heli windows allow air flow, so you not only feel yourself flying, but when you go through clouds and visibility drops off, you get hit with random drops of rain. It gives one the fear in a very exhilarating way.

Anyway, that was awesome and we made it safely. I understand now it is quite lucky to arrive in Lukla the same day you intended to. My sincere thanks to Summit Trek, for manifesting such a safe and amazing experience.  We spent enough time in Lukla to get hot tea and have our bags secured by porters.Then we were off to Phakding at 6:13 PM. We left around sunset and spent most of our walk in the dark, but safely made it to the Green Village Guest House. They cook a mean dhal bot here and are very nice.

I need to get myself off to sleep. The walk I had this evening summed to -200m below Lukla. Tomorrow we make that back and then some…