Due to the high altitude I explored Katmandu for 30 hours before boarding a plane somewhat larger than a super sized eagle. It soared above the hills to Lukla, a village with a landing strip that defied logic. The looming adventure filled the air.
Everywhere there were hikers, Sherpas, backpacks and supplies. The aromas of the morning were both sweet and pungent. I explored the village, inhaled the full senses offered by the open windowed shops, drank in the shared anticipation of all those around me.
Discovering the teahouse where I would meet up with my porter and guide, I encountered the first of the many outdoor toilets, one of only two hellish marks on this incredible trip. My feet hungered to be on the path, adrenalin was pulsing through my body and my patience was wearing thin.
When Laxman, the guide, finally arrived I could no longer contain my enthusiasm. I handed off my smallish suitcase to his sidekick, Sri, a lanky young porter, who balanced it atop my sleeping bag and other supplies that would be his burden for the entire week. I shouted my urgency and took off running. Laxman quickly adjusted his thoughts on distance and the first night’s goal.
I didn’t feel the pangs and pains that I feared would accompany me. I floated and I breathed in more than the light air. I was energized by the overwhelming beauty and wished I had more than two eyes to take it all in. The first unencumbered view of Everest was about the only thing that could make me stop. Day after day, my mood was as high as these mountains.
The constant diet of potatoes with garlic along with those nasty energy bars did nothing to deter the delight of hiking on the edge of the world. I contentedly shared the earthen highway with fellow trekkers, villagers, and people-trucks carrying lumber, food, and other necessities as I transversed through the villages of Namche, Thame, Khumjung and Thyangboche.
The yaks, however, were my nemesis. I hated it when they came toward me on the trail, especially on those swinging bridges. Their horns would aim out the sides of their head making them demand even more room than the hikers who liked to travel two by two with their poles outstretched.
By the light of the starriest night yet, I went to the outhouse before retiring. It was as if I were in a magnified Van Gogh painting. This particular shed was resting precariously next to a steep precipice. In fact, the rope on the inside of the door was not to keep the door closed, but a life grip stopping a backwards fall that might cause the entire hut to descend the mountain side.
I finished my business as quickly as possible only to discover that the door was now blocked by two yaks. I didn’t want to aggravate them. My demise was only a short BUTT away. I swear I could see their eyes twinkling like the luminaries in the sky, and emboldened I started yelling “help” “help” “help”, hoping to be rescued by someone. Nothing. A few louder cries now emanated from an even squeakier voice box.
Soon I heard the teen-aged campers near-by yelling to me to “Shut-up”. Incensed, I simply pushed on the door, the yaks moved and I ran past the tents to the safety of my most humble cot!