Day 11: Namche Bazaar to Lukla

Lukla, Nepal
9,380 feet above sea level; 71% oxygen

This was it. Our last day.

“Everyone always thinks that it’s the easiest,” Dawa said, as we packed up our bags and loaded them onto the yaks. “They forget.”

And with that encouragement, we began our final descent, retracing the same steps that we took last week. The trail was filled with yak and donkey trains and overburdened porters heading to Namche for the Saturday market. There were also far more trekker groups — making us thankful that we had left just before the start of the high season here.

The 12 miles silenced the group for most of the trip. Again, my focus was on one thing: getting home. So, while my camera sat idly in my backpack, luckily Ray felt better about taking in what continued to be one jaw-dropping vista after the next.

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After lunch, the skies began to darken and the wind picked up. It seemed only appropriate that we end this trek in the same way the we had started it — by dealing with terrible weather woes. Alas, there was little more than a drizzle as we began our final ascent up what seemed like an interminable set of stone steps back into Lukla.

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And then, in what felt like a strange time warp, we were suddenly back where we started. We collapsed into our beds, had a final bland dinner and then made our way to the village’s only bar. Ordering up Everest beers, we sat inside Wave’s while a cricket match played on a television behind the bar. We raised and clinked our cans in celebratory exhaustion.

This we had earned.

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