Day 12 began with excitement about the chopper ride that 3 members were about to take. They were accompanied by Nima because we didn't have enough cash on us to pay the chopper and hence Nima was to pay for the ride by borrowing money from his aunt at Lukla. The group paid Nima after reaching kathamandu. This is why we lost the 4th passenger seat meant for PK.
Chopper took off at 6:30 am and PK on horse & I on foot left Namche at 6:45 am along with Mingmar & 3 porters. Because of the descent the horse was slow so I started walking alone. On the way I met with this young girl who was also on her way to Lukla Apparently she was returning to Kathmandu from home and was on foot for last 6 days!
She and I got talking and soon the descent was over. Somewhere along the way one of us slowed down and I was walking alone again. At 8:12 am I reached Sagarmatha national park checkpost and enquired about the distance (measured in time) to lunch venue - Tok Tok. The gentleman asked me my nationality and then answered "2 hours". This was the second time someone had asked my nationality before telling me the time to destination. I said if I were to tell you that I have reached here from Namche in 1.5 hours, would your estimate change? He immediately said that I would reach Tok Tok in one hour. Looks like we Indians have reputation of being slow :(
And guess what, I was in Tok Tok, sharp at 9:12 am!!! But I couldn't locate the lunch venue and Pasang was atleast half an hour away and PK was another 30 minutes out. So I waited on a bench on the road. There are lot of wooden and stone benches all along the route meant to relieve weary porters of their loads while standing up.
A young chap saw me sitting alone and probably wondering about my crazy curly hair, sat next to me and started chatting. He was wondering if I was lost, he was concerned why was I trekking alone and then curious why I didn't have kids :). He kept me company till Pasang showed up at 9:52 am. We then walked to the lunch place near by and waited for PK, Mingmar and other porters to arrive.
Around 10:30, everyone had reached lunch place. PK was limping badly now but she was happy. While we ate, we watched a young kid lying in the sun in the hayfield next door. She got some sort of mat, put it down, turned it over, removed her shoes, cleaned her feet of the sticking hay, put her jacket down as a pillow and lied down face up with arms behind her head. And soon she started dancing while lying down :) - PK and I were jealous of her! No care in the world, just her, hay and sunshine!
We left Tok Tok at 11:42 am - exactly 2.5 hours after I had reached there. I continued walking alone. During last 30 minute I ran into the girl again who I had met on start of the day. The last 20 minutes felt really hard. The weather had turned bad - raining mildly, the rocky steps were wet and slippery and I was tired. I was very gratedul when I completed the last ascent without any incident.
By 2 pm I reached Lukla checkpost where I called Nima to get the TIMS card needed to check me out. The check posts help keep track of tourists and they are expected to check in and out as they trek through the region. I was again very proud that inspite of my fibromylagia I had competed the trek under 5 hours (walking time). Mingmar had predicted that it won't take me more than 6 hours of walking. Infact had I not stopped for lunch, I could have reached Lukla before noon.
Our lazy guide took his time coming down and then we went to have a coffee at one of his relatives' place. Soon we heard a horse down the road and there was PK on Shetty (we had managed to find a mangalorean horse in Nepal!)
PK was happy because she had finally managed to impress Dogzilla. Start of the trek when we landed in Lukla, she encountered this dog in front of a coffee shop. She tried "talking" to it but the dog refused to pay her any attention and moved its head the other side every time PK tried to make eye contact. Some attitude, huh? Today PK saw the dog again and for some reason it was in disheveled state and looked mightily impressed (PK's opinion) by PK or the horse may be. Overall PK was thrilled that she could show off in front of Dogzilla :) In her words "woh kutta hi nahin kameena bhi tha"!!!!
We both settled in at Tara Lodge for the night. After sometime we decided to explore the market again. The rain had stopped and it was mist all around us. Very quite and beautiful! We saw this Illy Cafe on the way and decided to try their cafe mocha and chocolate croissant. The key reason I entered the place was because of free wifi :)
The coffee was great and the croissant was exceptionally good. The place has nice wicker furniture and is really cozy. I would recommend it if any of you crave for a good coffee when in Lukla.
Evening, before dinner, PK and I wanted to celebrate last evening of the trek. So we picked up the only red wine bottle that Tara Lodge had. It was a 2009 merlot from a South Australian winery. And even PK, who is not into red wine, loved it. Somehow we got really lucky (and drunk) on that wine!
The porters also had some local drinks (fermented millets in boiling water). Nima advised PK and I to hand tips to porters on the group's behalf. I added my unused down jacket to the tips for Pasang, PK gave her unused down jacket to Karma and she gave additional money to the light footed, almost 16 Lakpa. Both Karma and Lakpa had helped her a lot during her trek.
We told Nima that Mingmar is too senior for us to tip him and that we would hand his tips to Nima in Kathmandu with a thank you note.
Happy and content at finishing the trek, we retired for the night as we had 6:15 am flight to Kathamandu the next day