We were very excited to be hitting the trail again, although this time, it was in the knowledge that it would be bringing us closer leaving the region.
We were both still processing the events of the past few days, and really the entire experience in general, but it was with a certain feeling of relief that we began making our way back to the airport, ready to finish up with this particular adventure.
Namche to Monjo
After a hearty breakfast, we shouldered our packs and began the walk back out of Namche Bazar. The hill that had nearly killed us on the way up was much more manageable on the way down, although certainly a little tougher on the knees.
We again passed the Everest viewpoint at the public toilets, and waved a final goodbye to the mountain that had proved so elusive.
At the bottom of the hill, we reached the suspension bridge that we'd marveled over 9 days earlier, smiling to ourselves as we watched trekkers on their way up reacting in the same way.
Over the bridge, the trail forked into a high path and a low path. Since we'd come up on the low path, I thought we should mix things up a bit and head back on the high path. I was wrong.
The low path dropped away steeply, but it was a short track down to the banks of the river, where you follow its path a short distance to the next bridge.
The high path, we came to discover, was a steep, scrambling, torturous series of ascents and descents, presumably put in my path to make me remember why we were trying to leave. It took at least twice as long as the riverside path, and was agony.
Nonetheless we made the bridge, and eventually the path took us all the way back to Monjo, where we'd spent our first night on the trail. We stopped for tea at our old accommodation, and spent a little time reconnecting with our dog friend.
Monjo to Phakding
After a suitably long rest time, we hit the road again, pushing on to our overnight destination, Phakding. We passed more animal trains, porters carrying enormous loads, flapping prayer flags, and chortens. All these sights that a week ago, were stopping us in our tracks, but in our current moods, were failing to bring much of a smile to our faces. We talked occasionally about how beautiful the surroundings were, and how we should really be soaking in the last of the hike, but it was hard when we were already mentally checked out.
Arriving in Phakding, we checked in to a simple room in Snowland Lodge, and spent the afternoon and evening, as usual, playing cards and reading in the common room. We were a little alarmed to hear the owner tell us that no flights had left Lukla that day, but we hoped that we'd be lucky enough to get out easily in two days' time.
Phakding to Lukla
When we awoke the next morning, it was to grey skies and rain. It wasn't looking great for any flights getting out that day either.
By the time we'd finished breakfast, there was a break in the rain, so we started on our final hike to Lukla. It was still overcast and dreary, but at least we weren't getting wet.
The hike seemed to last forever. Even though Phakding was only 7.8kms, it felt like a neverending uphill slog, and by the time we passed through the gate signalling the exit from the national park, we were soaked with sweat.
As we walked through the familiar main street of Lukla, we breathed a sigh of relief. Although hardly our favourite part of the world, we were so grateful to be one step closer to Kathmandu.
We wandered through town, trying to find accommodation - but were having some trouble since all the flights for the day had been cancelled, so there were lots of trekkers stuck in town. Eventually, we ended up back at the place we'd stayed our first night in Lukla, Alpine Lodge.
As soon as we'd dropped off our bags, we made our way to Everest Burger, and gulped down some of the best burgers we'd had in a long time, while thinking lots of positive thoughts about how the weather was definitely going to clear for our flight in the morning.
Later that evening, back at the accommodation, Zev was happy to see the dog that we'd met at the accommodation the first time we'd stayed. As he went to pat it, the dog flew at him, apparently not as happy to see him as he was to see it... He ended up having to fend the dog off with the stick attached to the room key every time he walked past it...
As we climbed back into our sleeping bags for what we desperately hoped was the last time, we listened to the rain pouring down on the tin roof, and sent every positive vibe we had left in us out to the universe, in the hopes that the weather gods would smile on us in the morning...
Lots of love,
S & Z