October 6, 2006 - Reflecting on Our Last Days in Nepal

Boarding the plane heading for Kathmandu

This is Cami Mattson reporting from Kathmandu.  Our last several days have been joyous and reflective.  We celebrated Jim’s birthday on Tuesday, October 3rd in Namche.  It is not too often that one celebrates his birthday in the Khumbu Valley in Nepal.  We have had two birthdays on this trek of seven members.  There is much to celebrate up here with the beauty of the region and our new friends.  The Sherpas made Jim a wonderful apple pie complete with candles and in full spirit we sang him happy birthday.  As a gift, we gave Jim the DVD Himalaya to remember his journey by. 

Cami and Min at the airport in LuklaWhile waiting for the birthday dinner, we all got side-tracked in the lodge’s store buying very affordable pashmina scarves.  It only takes one person in the group to find a good deal, and we all follow like a herd of yaks.

Wednesday, October 4th, marked our final trekking day and we noted the date as 10-4, or over and out. It was a long 8-hour hiking day from Namche to Lukla.  We immediately noticed a change in weather and landscape as we descended the Namche Hill.  The landscape became more green and lush, the air more thick, and the waterfalls poured down the mountainsides into the Dudh Kosi River.  We crossed the many swinging bridges over the river all in one day.  We walked to the left of the carved Mani Rocks in the Buddhist tradition and to the left of poles waving prayer flags.  This day we all hiked together marking the bond of our friendships. 

It became very obvious that the trekking season was in full force.  We saw many people from around the world working their way up the Khumbu Valley as we descended.  We all were grateful for our September start and the moments we had alone along the trail.  We also enjoyed sharing Namaste greetings and smiles with the Sherpa people and children in the villages.

Libby, Jim and Maria at the airport in LuklaWe arrived at our lodge in Lukla around 4 p.m.  No flights had gone out that day because of the low clouds and pour visibility.  We all crossed our fingers that we would make it out the next day.  Wednesday night was also our farewell dinner with our eight Sherpas who helped us throughout our trek.  We ate dinner together, enjoying a traditional Dahl Bat feast.  In trekking custom, we recognized each of our Sherpa porters and guides, and ended the evening dancing to Tibetan music around the wood-burning stove.  Our hearts had a sad tug at the end of the evening as we said our goodbyes.

We were lucky that the weather cleared up and we were able to fly out of Lukla on the little mountain airstrip around 8 a.m. the next morning.  It was definitely a thrill ride leaving the Lukla airport and flying through the mountains and valleys back to Kathmandu.  We could see the never-ending Himalaya peaks along the horizon.  We have always remained amazed at the majesty of the peaks and have never tired of looking at them.

Our last day of trekking and we all trekked together

We are all now in Kathmandu.  Tomorrow is Saturday, October 7, and we leave for home or additional travel extensions.  We laugh at how luxurious our hotel, the Yak & Yeti, feels.  Hot showers, clean clothes and a lunch buffet are all that we need to feel spoiled.  We can even move around in our rooms without bumping into one another.  We are all happy and healthy and grateful for the life-rewarding and soul-enriching trip we have shared together.

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