Day 11: A very special Thanksgiving from very far away

Day 11th – Our final day of the trek from Namche Bazaar 3440 mts/ 11,286ft to Lukla 2886mts/9469 ft

Today is our last day in the trek. It’s also one of the longest ones as we’ll head from Namche to Lukla, the starting place of our journey. It’s Thanksgiving and a very unique way to conclude this magical trek.

We started the day extremely early (which is something I hope to bring back to my normal life!) and had everything packed and ready. Our porters were more than excited to push for the end. If anything, these types of jobs are quite coveted, as the money they earn in 2 weeks can easily help their families for 2 months.

Our plan was to have an enjoyable downhill trek from Namche Bazaar, stop by the famous hanging bridge for the official selfies and then cruise into the beautiful town of Monjo for an early lunch. After that, we’d continue crossing the various bridges into Phakding and then finish with the heartbreaking incline climb into Lukla. Approx distance to around 16miles.

We were out by 7:30am and it was quite chilly as the clouds were still covering the route, but the rays of sun would make it sunnier after the bridge. Coming downhill wasn’t as easy – the gravel style road made it quite slippery.

1 Pic of Namche

I brought a cool video stabilizer and, as a good nerd, got a little too caught up shooting so much of the scenery that I fell behind.

As we reached the very famous swinging bridge, which was widely feature on the Everest movie, the selfie fever began again. However, I wasn’t aware this bridge is also known as a dedication bridge, hence the number of prayer flags and Nepali blessing scarfs that get attached here. All the girls started leaving their scarfs around various areas of the bridge. It was special to watch each of the girls have a moment to themselves, then start giggling and taking more selfies.

2 Pic of BridgeWe continued our journey into Monjo as the sun started making its way through the cloudy skies. By 10:30am most of the girls were hungry and we picked the same place we had lunch on our way to Namche Bazaar 10 days ago. The mood was quite festive and I had to surrender my speaker to their Nepali and Indian songs. The girls’ energy was so contagious, especially as Amy gave them a run for their money keeping up with their dance moves. Then the special dedication of “My heart will go on…” to Tucka captured in video will be an embarrassing remembrance on this trip

4 Pic Dancing 5 Pic Singing

Our final lunch of the trek was extremely yummy – lots of greens and spicy potatoes and a special soup made of bamboo and veggies hit the spot.6 Pic Town

We left around 1:00pm with still about four solid hours to continue trekking through Lukla. Our ne
xt ideal stop would be Phakding for some lemon tea and munchies. With the sun in full force, crossing the various bridges was just stunning. Such a deep appreciation of the beautiful surroundings. Walking around the lusciousness of the trails, and combining the gorgeous gigantic waterfalls was truly a zen of a gift to experience.

8 Pic - Surrounding Playing with the video stabilizer made me the last person walking in the group, Amy was just a tad ahead of me as she was also shooting various photos of the surroundings. Though somehow a flock of Yaks passing made us turn the wrong way (even on these tiny little roads you can make a wrong turn) and then the two of us found ourselves hiking up a really long hill. Not seeing any Yak poop made me suspicious and as we climbed really high, I told Amy about potentially having taken a wrong turn. Luckily I had a signal on my phone and called the mountaineers who told us that indeed we were lost. They told us to see if we could find a village and ask for directions to Lukla. At the top the hill, we stumbled across a gorgeous set of white prayer flags with gorgeous prayer stones. It wasn’t a very populated area, but we came across the German Red Cross tent and found people who were happy to give us directions.

We had gotten lost in the beautiful and scenic Rimishung Monastery that unfortunately had been damaged by the earthquake. The whole village was being rebuilt. As we found our path back and made our way down to find the main road, Shailee and Maya had returned for us. It was the second time that the mini-rescue mission had to be sent.

10 Monastery 2

12 Found 11 PeopleWe caught up with half the rest of the group and, after passing Phakding, we took a break at the Holiday Inn around 4pm – (FYI 80% of all the little tea/rest places are called Holiday Inn). We got our fix of beverages and snacks and proceeded with the rest of the climb. Maya told us it should be around 90mins to make it to Lukla. As we had a group ahead of us, I ended up going faster to catch up, and so we’d potentially be together in case of nightfall. Those 90 minutes came and went pretty fast and I was still halfway along the climb into Lukla. I had lost my headlamp and as I started losing visibility of the path, there was something beautiful about being completely exposed without light – though the sounds of yaks in the middle of the terrain was a little scary.

Before it got too dark, I saw the arch to the entrance of Lukla and spotted the rest of the group. As I dropped my bag at the hotel, I took tow other people with headlamps to support our slower group, though within 20 minutes, the group made it to the end.

Our porters were happily awaiting all of us, as it’s customary to do the tip giving ceremony. The temperature had dropped in Lukla and it was quite chilly, so we all sat by the old firestove. As the porters received their pay and tips they were truly happy to have worked with us. Between five of them, they carried 50lbs in half the time it’d take us to get to our destination. They were always attentive and, if anything, it felt as if we had our older siblings helping us.

13 Final Group with Porters

As they left us being truly grateful, the rest of us kept the circle and ordered enough food to rehydrate from our really long trek. Amy led the circle with a special Thanksgiving invocation and we all went around expressing our gratitude for all of our loved ones. The girls were really vocal and extremely sweet in sharing their gratitude. We were all depleted physically and emotionally exhausted. By 9:00pm it was a good time to wrap up our incredibly long day. Tomorrow we’ll be heading to Kathmandu staying in the hotel, as we are planning on having a long session with the girls about their learnings on this amazing experience.

Treat for the night: A very unique place to spend Thanksgiving with a beautiful connection into my new family, my little Nepali sisters.