In terrain that the guidebook compared with the Lost Valley of the Dinosaurs (whatever that is) we walked along narrow ledges that dropped straight down into the forest as far as you could see. Hearing the warning bells of donkey trains, we had to jump up on the slope above us a couple times to make room. We had amazing views down a valley nearly vertical on both sides and dotted with a couple rivers and waterfalls. We walked past a power pole that was nothing more than a thick tree limb propped up by a couple of large rocks. It was here I went off the path for a bathroom break, and upon standing I looked up to realize the uncoated power line was but a couple of feet over my head!
With dismay (at least I was dismayed) we walked all the way down to the river, knowing we’d have to climb the same height again to reach Lukla. After a long ascent, we finally reached our destination we had been working towards for the last week. We accidentally came into town using a scenic route, first zigzagging through a field of massive boulders and then through a maze of stone-walled paths crowned with razor wire. Compared to the small villages we had been staying at, the lodge at Lukla was more like a massive hotel and though I hadn’t felt like we’d been wanting for much, I suddenly felt surrounded by luxuries I had almost forgot about. We celebrated by devouring yak burgers and fries and a huge piece of chocolate cake. When we went to bed I could hear some poor dog whaling like it was caught or hurt or something, and every time I awoke at night it was still lamenting even louder than the downpour of rain that was falling. It was awful and didn’t stop until morning. We planned to stay in Lukla for one day, and then carry upwards to Namche where we could have more rest days at a higher altitude, which would help our acclimatization. We watched the small planes take off and land on the surprisingly short and sloped runway, wondering how they paved it without any heavy equipment available.
The second night we stayed in a much smaller, family run lodge where they led us through their little kitchen and into the backyard where we could have gas-heated showers. Right after we went to bed a herd of Israelis obnoxious to a degree I didn’t know existed moved in right beside us. Sean even got out of bed to try and find a different lodge to stay at, but everything had closed by then. It was my first encounter with Israelis and I was to learn more about their famously poor reputation the next day.