If my first breath was a second after my birth, then my second true breath would have to be the moment we started walking towards our destination- Everest Base Camp. Day one, of eleven days of walking, wiggling my toes, groping trees, asking for Puni Pani, widening my eyes, smelling crisp evergreens, feeling small rocks slide beneath my feet, hearing – literally hearing the wind blow in twisting streams past my ears, and climbing to the steady pat of my heart had begun. I felt so completely alive. Conscious. Aware. Thrilled. And so eager. I could feel my heart smiling. After setting our bags on our backs, Rakesh and our lovely porter Saroj from Good Karma Trekking, led us through the “busy” streets of Lukla towards our next destination: Phakding. From Lukla to Phakding is only about a 3 hour walk; an easy “climb”. But, it seriously might as well have been 24 hours, in so far as in 3 hours, I experienced a days worth of imagery, beauty, enchantings. Within the first five hours, from flight to foot, the EBC trekker is already witnessing waterfalls, donkeys on trails, cows on trails, the refreshing effulgent Dudh Kosi River whipping rapidly through the Himalayan Valleys, and entrancing lower valley life. It is a bit funny, because there is a visible difference between lower valley folk and those in Kathmandu. It is almost tangible. Nothing better or anything, just different. You see this difference in the warmth of their smiles. The lack of city worry. But, beware trekkers: do not let your competitiveness think that you can walk faster than a small Nepali girl carrying fifty pounds of luggage. She might be chatting with her friend behind her, playing music from her small phone, wearing flip-flops and carrying a hell of a lot more weight than you, but, my friend, she is faster. Her feet know these steps like the back of her hand. Wherever she is going, she will most likely get there before you do. Funny enough, she doesn’t notice it. She is just being herself, within herself, completely bare of your path, your plans and your intentions. She will give you a shy smile and be on her way, most likely wishing you a small “go well” in her head. Don’t try to keep up with her, watch her, watch her go forward in lightness and imagine the home she is waiting to find. You may even see her again, for the trails of the Himalayas are forever intertwining with one another, letting some go and pushing others forward, yet always allowing any soul to sit still.
Breathing for the second time: Lukla to Phakding