Everest Base Camp Trek – Day 1
Date: 12 November 2017
Walked to: Phakding
Distance: 5 miles
Altitude: Sleeping at 2,652m
Today may be the shortest walk I’ve ever blogged about. But then most walking days don’t start with a white-knuckle ride of a flight on a tiny plane, where I was transfixed and terrified by the landscape in equal measure. The mountains were stunning – but we seemed to fly awfully close to them, and the runway at Lukla airport, where the Everest Base Camp trek starts, sort of appears on the mountainside, and features a very short runway that slopes significantly uphill as you land on it. It’s pretty bloody scary!
The first thing we did when we landed (you know, after I kissed the ground…) was head for the first of what will be many tea houses (basic restaurants that often offer simple accommodation) and wait for the sun to come up. Once it had, our group started our slow walk, with lots of stops, up the Dudh Kosi valley. The slow walking bit of what I’ve just said is very important, because, along with drinking lots of water and ensuring I keep eating, it’s going to be key to how quickly – or not – I can acclimatise to the altitude I’ll be walking at. This walk is going to be all about the height, not the distance walked.
All that aside, I’m struggling to describe the landscape I’ve walked through today. The snow covered peaks in the distance and the glacial blue river remind me a little of Patagonia. The stone path winding through a series of small settlements put me in mind of the earlier section of the Inca Trail. But the two combined, along with the brightly coloured prayer flags and wheels, and the carvings and paintings that adorn the large boulders strewn across the hillside, are like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It’s extraordinary.