Anyone that knows me knows that I am not a huge fan of flying. A few days ago we flew into the Lukla airport which is known as the most dangerous airport in the world. As we drove up to our plane, which was essentially a rickety old tin can, the nerves began to set in. We boarded the plane and James and I were seated right at the front so that we could get footage and film. Everyone in the plane was nervous, not just me for once. We were all laughing nervously and making jokes like “well.. it was nice knowing you” and “see you on the other side.” The energy was a mix between nervousness and laughter. As we rushed down the runway, however, complete silence.
My heart was pounding as we began to ascend and as I watched the pilots twist knobs and push gears in a plane that looked to be a 100 years old. Kathmandu was in a haze when we lifted, we could see nothing but a thick fog of pollution. As we began to get closer to Lukla the sky cleared and we could start to see the Himalayas. The mountains were gargantuan and each passing by seemed to be bigger than the next. The pilots were awesome! They allowed James and me to climb into the cockpit and film the mountains and even the landing. They would even duck out of the way to make sure that we got good shots out of their windows. One of the pilots even pointed out Mount Everest as we zoomed past. I could only see just the top part of the peak but there was no denying its enormity. I lost all sense of fear and was completely engrossed with the spectacular view of massive peaks with dusted snow caps.
I could see the Lukla landing strip from miles away. The runway was a short few hundred meters that ran directly off a cliff. I kneeled between the two pilots as we began our approach getting my GoPro to the front windshield of the aircraft. I was full of adrenaline as we began to get closer and closer to the tiny stretch within the Himalayas. It felt as if the plane were landing on its nose as we were just a few feet about the runway. Then with a sigh of relief.. a safe landing. Everyone in the plane clapped and cheered! We had made it safely and the excitement was contagious.
I took a deep breath of clean, crisp, cool mountain air as I walked out of the plane. It was such a contrast to Kathmandu and I was relieved to be in the foothills breathing clean air. Porters and Sherpas met us at the foot of the plane and began carrying our heavy duffel to a guest house where we stopped for hot tea and tang. It was hard to believe that they could carry these heavy bags with ease. Some of the bags seemed to be as large as the porters and Sherpas themselves!
While at the guest house we met with Nima Sherpa (our head Sherpa) and his group of porters. They were discussing what to do with the duffels, which to put on yaks and which to carry. Two of the porters were arguing about who would have the unfortunate task of carrying one of the heavy pelican cases full of equipment up the mountain.
After things were settled we began our 7 hour trek to Monju where we would rest and then continue on to Namche where we would be taking daily measures, rest day measures, and taking EEGs on monks. More to come on those subjects in the posts ahead!