WILDERNESS MEDICAL SOCIETY ISLAND PEAK CLIMBING 2019 SPRING
27 March 2019 Trek From Lukla to Phakding
From the cacophony of a chaotic Kathmandu to the surreal land of clouds and mountains AKA Lukla, the WMS 2019 Everest Base Camp Trekkers discovered what it meant to press on through adversity, but I digress. Our first full day in Nepal included an amazing tour of the city, where we had the opportunity to visit Pashupatinath (a Hindu temple) and the Boudhanath stupa (Buddhist shrine). At Pashupatinath, we were privileged to witness a traditional funeral cremation ceremony, where the families of the recently deceased wash their loved one’s body, build a funeral pyre, and send the spirit to the heavens. At the Boudhanath stupa, we learned about the Golden Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama), the importance of the Four Noble Truths, and the Noble Eightfold Path to Nirvana. In addition, we visited a group of lamas (which is an ethnic group/family) who were masters in Thangka painting (painting on cotton, silk, or applique, which can depict a mandala, Buddhist deity, etc). That night we visited a local tavern of sorts, where we were serenaded by traditional Nepalese music and entertained by traditional Nepalese dancers. Ask anyone of us about the “goat man”, and you will hear a tale of intrigue, hilarity, and possible diagnoses.
The following day, we all traveled to the Kathmandu airport…where we ended being split into 4 different groups. The first groups boarded a bus to the tiny plane that was to take us to Lukla, and after driving around the air field no less than 20 times, were taken back to the terminal. The Lukla airport was closed due to inclement weather. Alas, we did not lose hope and were allowed to board the plane a few hours later. Little did we know, we were headed to one of the scariest and most dangerous landing strips in the world. I have seen driveways longer than this landing strip…I’ve also never seen a landing strip so steep. Talk about intense! Yours truly could not fully appreciate this incredible flight journey, because she decided that it was time to orally relieve herself of all contents of her stomach. As we waited for the rest of the group to arrive, we experienced an intense thunder/lightning/hail storm. We wondered what was happening to the rest of our team. It turns out, they were on route to Lukla and their flight ended up turning around. Now, I know the Nepalese Sherpa community is intense, but I had no idea. They found some of our team members a helicopter to take them to a site about 4 hours south of Lukla. They ended up trekking uphill through hail, rain, mud and snow to bring us our bags and a few more team members, one of whom was lucky enough to be celebrating his birthday in the most intense, miserable conditions imaginable. The rest of the team ended traveling back to our hotel in Kathmandu and arrived via 2 helicopters this morning.
We then left the Khumba lodge (where we had been staying in Lukla) and trekked to Phakding’s Sherpa Guide Lodge. It was a short day of trekking, only about 4 hours from Lukla to Phakding. Along the way, we had to watch out for donkeys and yaks, had the experience of crossing a swaying suspended bridge, and found peace and joy as we communed with the spirits of this beautiful land. Why did I choose to go on this trek? I chose this trek to help me identify in what direction I want my life to go, to clear my heart and spirit of the detritus of the western world, and to help raise funds to complete the building of the Wongchhu Memorial Hospital. I hope you will all enjoy this blog and are able to experience the comfort and familiarity the wonderful people of Nepal have already given us.