Everest Base Camp Trek: “First we fly to Lukla”

In hindsight, the first step of our epic EBC trek was probably the most unnerving. Let me first set the scene. While in India, and staying with friends in Ahmedabad, we were surprised to hear that at the age of 14, our friend Kahan, trekked to EBC with his father. While he mentioned some “really?” kinds of things, on the lines of sanitation, water, and intensity, what frightened us the most was what he said of the first step of the EBC trek- The flight to Lukla. Kahan basically stated that if we made it through the flight, the trek to EBC, for us, would be cake. Of course this alarmed us, so we asked why? He said, one: the planes are rickety old things, flying at incredible altitudes in all sorts of weather changes; two: the landing pad is on the side of a mountain and is truly 1,500ft long and only 60ft wide, with a runway that ends in a blank mountain wall and has an uphill gradient of 12 percent.
HOLY COW. (Should I say holy cow in India? Oh well). And the story kept going, I promise. So, now let me tell you ours. After two days wandering around Kathmandu, drinking Everest Beer, preparing for our trek and seeing the sublime earthyness of Nepal’s capital, (which I of course will tell you about at a later date, because it is incredible), we were ready. So, on the morning of July 4th, 2014, we set out for our individual independence, our freedom and our couple and self-exploration. Wake up call was about 4 am, with Rakesh our amazing guide, picking us up at about 5am. Once we arrived at the airport, we could even see HIS nerves about flying. And he has literally made the flight hundreds of times- and still nervous? Now that is frightening. But, okay, I said a little prayer and boarded the 12 person plane. We were given candy to eat and cotton balls for our ears, and told to hold tight. Lift off was forcible and I was not armed. But, once we were in the air, the biggest smile came across my face. I kept telling myself, if we WERE to die on this flight, it was meant to be- so enjoy the beauty. As I looked back at Rakesh and the other Nepali passengers, I don’t think they had quite the same thoughts. But, as the picture shows above, I felt like I was the closest to God I had ever been at that moment. Outside the small plane, was a sea of mountains, light clouds with sunlight simmering through. The ectasy of the moment made me feel light, like cuddling in a bed of covers on a cold winter’s night. Part of this ecatasy was also knowing the next terrifying moment was ahead. So, when the captain said, “preapre for landing, I took a big breath and smiled back at Rob- “here we go”. The landing required so much percision. I mean, I get a bit nerved when a normal plane lands and then is taxiing towards the airport. This time, 1,500 ft away, there is nothing but mountain. You get me? But, we landed safely. And at that same split second, my journey of thankfulness and appreciation for my life and our beautiful world began.

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