Return to Lukla

The final day on the trail.  For over two weeks it had been my home.  It was harder than I could have imagined.  Far more gorgeous as well.

And after 15 long days, the morning arrived.  We were leaving Monju – where we’d feasted on fresh apple juice from Didi Doma’s orchard, and delicious pumpkin soup from her garden.

Miles to go to finish this 80 mile trek.  None of them easy.  Massive stone steps to go up and down and around.  But this day was as beautiful as the others.  We were back in the “low lands”, around 9000 feet.  Brilliant flowers, terraced fields.

We were exhausted.  We were coughing and blowing our noses.  We were exhilarated.  Proud of our accomplishment.  Anxious to get back to Lukla, where we would catch a plane the next morning… which meant only two or three days until we’d be catching planes to our own warm and comfortable homes.

Still… I wanted this day to crawl by. I was leaving rural Nepal – quite sure that I would never return.  So I soaked in every little moment.

It was Divali – and in these Buddhist mountain villages, the Hindu holiday had spilled over to spread its cheer.  Children were singing and dancing along the way – all dressed up for the festive holiday.

Weather had kept planes from landing in Lukla for the past two or three days, so the trail was packed with new arrivals.  People, people, people, donkeys, donkeys, donkeys, yaks, yaks, yaks… leaving Lukla and heading north.

We looked into one another’s eyes… those of us coming down and those going up.  We saw the anticipation in theirs.  They saw the fulfillment in ours.

While the days at higher elevation were sometimes silent, this day was filled with joyous noise.  The rushing river, music coming from the villages, constant bells from the animals.  A surreal moment when we stopped for lunch… yak cheese sandwiches, potatoes, cabbage and carrots… Nepali music playing, then Celine singing “I’m Alive”.  Yes, indeed!

The afternoon passed.  I began to think of the evening when we would have our final meal with our porters… these amazing men who carried our loads.  I knew I would cry.

So the tears that started flowing when I spotted the gate to Lukla caught me by surprise.  Our team gathered just inside the memorial gate with congratulatory hugs.  We had done it. We were back safely.  Worn out!  But safe.

Breathtaking beauty at every turn. 

Nepal, you will always be in my heart.

Active Adventures, thank you.

Gary, your celebration plans for our 50th birthdays were grand.

I’m overwhelmed with happiness and contentment.

My soul sings and shall continue to.

My God… How great Thou art!


7 Responses to “Return to Lukla”

  1. Marcea Clive says:

    Tears! ! !

  2. Nico Francis says:

    Thank you, Gary, for planning such a magnificent celebration. Thank you, Sandy, for taking us with you in the magic of your words and photos!

  3. lawaanda calton says:

    I have been transported by your photos and your words!
    So proud of your strength to tackle just about anything. Thanks for sharing your sights and emotions!

  4. Kim says:

    So beautiful…… I hate for it to end! Thank you for taking us along with your pictures and writings!

  5. Sandy says:

    Absolutely my pleasure to get to share this magnificent vacation with all of you.

    And I’ll say it again… most of the photos are Gary’s. He’s an amazing photographer,and loves to capture special moments – framing them up with his artistic eye. That’s why he carries the good camera!

  6. Betty Williamson says:

    I don’t want this to end. How about a few more?

  7. Cheryl says:

    Thanks for sharing this again. I think I probably missed this post!! A real tear jerker for sure. Can’t believe I missed it the first time.:)

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