Ray said he had a pleasant 8-hour hike down to Lukla. He said he has definitely left the high country behind now. This lower region is forested and very lush, but it is also really hot.
The trail between Namche and Lukla is well traveled by the Sherpas who are carrying massive loads to their villages. Ray said the loads are mostly family or community supplies, and are now being transported to their villages. And of course there were the tourists
Ray said it felt today like he was actually going down. It was a bit of a slog, with one village after the next, and the big groups of tourists. He said he must have met 30 large groups. Hiking from Lukla to Namche is uphill the whole way and lots of work. Above Namche, Ray saw only the occasional trekker, not the big groups.
Ray, Kancha and Lakpa hiked together most of the day. They stopped for lunch at nice little restaurant in Phakding, after crossing the Dudh Koshi river. Ray found out that Kancha also works as a waiter at this particular restaurant. So after they sat down for lunch, Kancha got back up and started waiting on other customers, taking their orders, going back to the kitchen. It seems Kancha is well known and liked by all.
Ray described Lukla as kind of cramped and a bit run-down; certainly not his favorite. Nothing like the open villages higher up. It is just a busy cross-roads for trekkers, tourists and locals, all because of the airport.
Ray had to say good-bye to Kancha and Lakpa in Lukla. The two Sherpas had helped Ray carry his gear all the way from Base Camp, and now they are returning to Base Camp. Ray was very grateful for all their help, so as they were leaving Namche this morning they stopped at the Bazaar and Ray bought his friends some new trekking boots. Lakpa had been hiking in really tattered sneakers and they were both delighted to have new boots.
Ray also gave the Sherpas some other gear: a down parka each, a fleece neck gaiter each, and one of them got a pair of down booties that Ray said were extremely warm, but were shedding bits of down.
Ray said he was talking to a trekker there in Lukla, and this fellow said that he had seen Ray two days ago in the Tengboche bakery. He was from Sweden, and they enjoyed comparing notes on their treks.
As we spoke, Ray said he was standing in front of the unique airstrip: it is short and steep. The plane lands going up hill, and there is apparently no problem taking off and landing on a sloped runway. So if all goes well, he will be flying back to Kathamdu tomorrow.
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