- Starting elevation: 11,290 ft / 3,440 m
- Ending elevation: 9,100 ft / 2,800 m
- Elevation change: -2,190 ft / -640 m m
- Starting oxygen: 67% of sea level
- Ending oxygen: 73% of sea level
- Distance covered: 11.12 mi / 17.9 km
- Time hiked: 6h 15m
Today begins what will be the last day of my first Himalayan adventure.
Once again, the hike I will be doing today is something that took me multiple days on the way up to Base Camp. The way down truly is quicker.
I wake up where I fell asleep (usually a good thing): on the floor of the cafe that Mr. Susan (the owner) allowed me to sleep in. To my surprise, I find myself looking at something I haven't seen once this entire trip: snow falling from the sky (turns out it's a good thing Susan moved me in from the porch).
And it looks like it's been falling for a while now.
How grateful I am to be going down instead of up.
All of my known hiking associates departed Namche Bazaar yesterday, so I am again alone; I like things that way.
I begin my trip south through the snow incredibly grateful that I am not just beginning my trip up to Base Camp. Although seeing everything covered in snow would undoubtedly be spectacular.
After an hour of hiking the snow has transitioned into rain. Rain that brings with it muddy slopes and trails (that has been thoroughly mixed with pack animal excrement).
The benefits of hiking downhill (yes, I prefer down to up; yes, I know some of you out there with awful knees don't agree) are negated by the now treacherous mud slides that must be avoided during the descent.
Despite the mud, it's fairly easy going, and I am surprised to find myself reunited with Michael and Garth halfway down to Lukla (I met them all the way back on day one).
Teamed up with my Aussie companions, we head down past the villages of Monjo, Phakding, and numerous others dotting the hillsides and valleys of the lower Himalaya.
The worse part about coming down from the Himalaya to Lukla (other than the fact that you're leaving one of the most spectacular places in the world) is that the last bit of hiking takes you uphill. For something like 1.86 mi / 3 km!
Steepest at the end, this last bit of elevation change serves to remind those cocky enough to consider the descent from Everest Base Camp a simple task who is boss (the mountains are, in case you're wondering).
Having finally arrived in Lukla I follow Mike and Garth to the hotel recommended by their guide – and also where they are staying.
I am willing to splurge after thirteen days without having taken a shower, washed my clothes, or slept in a room with an ensuite bathroom (not that all of these things have to do with remaining clean). We also appear to be the only guests in the entire hotel.
But the bathrooms are clean, the water in the shower is not freezing (but it's still very cold), and they have a cafe across the street with pizza and beer.
Tomorrow I fly back to Kathmandu; tonight, life is good.