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Mountain Zone, I'm calling you from Kathmandu. It's been scarcely 24 hours since my call from Namche, but a lot has happened, as is often the case on these trips. I'll try to fill you in.
Our walk down from Namche after our complicated departure, which I anticipated, went very well. It's a long walk from Namche all the way to Lukla. Some of our group is feeling the effects of probably a little bit of the Khumbu cough, viral-infection-type stuff we often deal with up there. Happy people, but some folks kind of moving slowly as we walk down the trail. Got down into that green I described at Phakding down on the Dudh Kosi river.
And lo and behold, when we got down there midday not surprisingly, I guess there's a couple Tibetan mastiffs with us still. These dogs love Heather. I described one of them to become my good buddy, but they both love Heather. And they followed us down. These dogs have been off duty for quite a while now; they're going to have to get back to the monastery and get used to bearing their teeth again, before long. But they certainly seem to enjoy hanging out with us. We continue to give them a lot of attention, and in fact, they even got a little of our leftover Spam at lunch down there at Phakding. I was a little concerned about, 'Well, are these dogs going to follow us all the way to Lukla?' But I also knew Cherub Zombu was down there with his trekking group and would walk back up to Namche within the following day.
But it's pretty interesting. As I walked across that big bridge that spans the Dudh Kosi river at Phakding, the rest of the group was ahead, and I looked back and I noticed those two dogs looking longingly at the group. Only about a third of the way across the bridge, they stopped and just stared with some regret, before they turned back and stayed on the proper side of the river to go back to their jobs of being ferocious guard dogs for the monks.
So we said goodbye to the mastiffs and walked on into Lukla. Tired that evening last night when we got there. But as I said, we would be satisfied. The Sherpas rallied us all a bit, with Sherpa singing and dancing. The evening was a little shorter than it might have been though, because I saw... when I got into Lukla at about 4 o'clock, I noticed there were two Yeti Air Twin Otters that had just landed, and I thought to myself, 'I bet those guys don't leave here tonight. They flew some cargo in.' And sure enough, they were ready to go the next morning. When we were told that the first group of 11 of us were on the first flight, we were told to have our bags ready by 5:30. The pilots walked out and we were in the air by 6:00 35-minute flight to Kathmandu.
And we had the rather interesting and strange experience of being at the Yak & Yeti just as the 7am breakfast buffet opened. Pretty much a culture-shock thing. We were glad to be in town, of course it's hours before showers and new rooms are ready there, clean rooms, but most of us had a nice breakfast. The group of four remaining flew in an hour or so later. But you know I told the group, 'Your return to Kathmandu should be your reprieve, your relief from group living. Go off and do what you want; enjoy being back in town.'
Ross had a good ideap; he's standing there in the lobby of the Yak & Yeti about 10 minutes after 7, he said, 'You know, I'd rather go for a run than have breakfast.' So Ross, the dedicated runner on this trip, the fellow who was always back, walking with whomever, on a particular day, happened to be going slowest a very caring and experienced backpacker. He had been out of running shape for a few days, trekking, and the next thing you know, I'm sitting there having a cup of coffee, and there's Ross making laps on the jogging trail at the Yak & Yeti and we kind of watched him through a glass window.
So people are about town today, doing different things. As I said, a few folks are feeling the effects, the weariness of trekking and, sort of, the change in climate, the various infections people get up in the Khumbu that really, ultimately have nothing to do with your memory of the trip, but when you come back, you're tired. Some people are probably just staying around the Yak & Yeti, perhaps even ordering up room service. Chip Allen, our physician, is continuing to be busy, letting folks know what he thinks is the best remedy for various ailments.
But mainly, ailments aren't on our mind because we're sitting back here in Kathmandu, a totally different climate. It's begun to get hot, all of a sudden. We had a great trip behind us, as you can tell from these dispatches, and we've got a couple of days to spend together here in town, to relax and enjoy one and other's company, and enjoy the city before people begin heading home.
Wally Berg, Alpine Ascents Guide and MountainZone.com Correspondent