Everest Trek – Lukla – 5/15

So, I woke up this morning with a very angry ankle.  As I unwrapped it, Brian was like, please dont be black and blue, please dont be black and blue.  I, of course thought it was too early for it to be black and blue.  So, of course, it was black and blue…..awesome.  And, of course, I just wrapped it back up and shoved it in my boot.  It only had to make it three hours.

Our last day of hiking was a lot of fun.  It was relatively flat, I’m finally feeling close to normal (of course), and  my foot held up ok.  We also enjoyed seeing everyone come through from Lukla at the start of their trek.  Some looking prepared, some with guides, some without.  One without any warm clothes or a sleeping bag…how are you going to trek without a sleeping bag?  One rather large gentleman who walked by and said, ‘I thought I’d give this a go’…..I dont think he had any gear.  And my favorite, a girl in full make-up, short shorts, and a strappy tank top….. good luck with that as you go up the mountain….

As we walked, I tried to take in as much as possible from all of the little towns we passed.  I felt like I missed so much the first time we came through.  The school children, the porters hauling up the latest load (food, candy, beer, etc.), and the people in the village going about their business.  It made me wonder how long the Himalayas will stay as I remember.  Will these somewhat hidden villages stay hidden except to those to trek to them?  Or will the modernization continue?  Cell phones are already everywhere, even at the highest elevations.  And, apparently for the right price, you can helicopter to Gorak Shep (the highest place we slept) and take photos.  How long before the nearest road isnt more than two days walk and there really is a gondola to the top of Everest.

Once we got back to Lukla, we took a bunch of photos – group shots, us with our guide, etc.  Then we had the final meal cooked by our kitchen staff – cinnamon rolls, french fries, and yak cheese…haha…I will miss these healthy lunches.  It’s great to be back to civilization…and have the opportunity for a (not) warm shower, but I really cant believe we’re already back…and we head back to Kathmandu tomorrow.   I’m sad it’s over, but so glad I had the adventure.    

Everest Trek – Phakding – 5/14 – 8,487 ft.

Remember the Real World?  In 1998 (I think), back when I used to watch the show, the Seattle season cast traveled to Nepal.  Today, our guide had on an MTV/Real World/Nepal shirt on.  Turns out he was part of the group from Nepal supporting the show while they were there.  He told us a little bit about what they did, how they took a helicopter up to the Everest View Hotel (cheating….haha), and how it was a quick trip, so he didnt really get to know them, but that there were cameras everywhere.

Today’s hike from Namche was relatively easy, but I was ready for it to be done.  It’s funny, when we’re hiking, I cant wait to stop, because I’m kind of over the whole hiking thing.  But, then we get to where we’re going and it’s just magical.  I feel like there’s so much to learn and see and do.  Today during the afternoon tea, we talked with our guide about Nepal and the power outages.  He let us know that they’re upgrading the power in Namche, so it will be out from May 15th until the end of September when trekking season starts up again.  Overall, it sounds like a lot of the power situation is political and is in the hands of the powerful and wealthy few rather than the many.

Phakding is a small town, but somewhat larger than a couple of other ones we’ve been to.  It’s right on the river, so after lunch, we all went down to hang out in the sun at the glacier river.  Or, rather, I tried to…first thing I did was find a rock and roll my ankle over it.  Went down pretty hard since it’s so weak from my trail adventure before we left.  Good times….sick and broken.  At least we only have one day left, and hopefully it’s an easy day.

I think last night was the last time we got hot water bottles.  It was fabulous in the cold, but I’m ok letting them go – its been warmer at night, and last night, I came back to my sleeping back to find that the bottle had leaked.  Luckily, it was a small river and my towel could take care of it.

Tonight was the last dinner our cook made – tomorrow we have dinner at the lodge we’re staying at.  It was nice: some KFC (khumbu fried chicken), stir fry noodles, veggies, and chicken momos…lots of old favorites.  To top it off, we finished with a last day cake, complete with frosting….yummy.

Now we’re hanging out in a room at the lodge, playing our nightly dominos and having good conversation.  I’ll miss this after tomorrow….that and my daily 3pm tea.  Perhaps thats something I can institute at the office….haha.    

Everest Trek – Namche – 5/13 – 11,200 ft.

So, I’m having a beer…at this point, the hard part is over, or I hope the hard part is over….haha.

Today, we hiked back into Namche.  A somewhat difficult hike since I still cant breathe, but overall bearable.  And, we got to hike down into Namche, which was a nice change.  We got here and got cleaned up, and then went to grab some souvenirs (mainly yak bells).  Then we headed to a bar with some of our fellow trekkers to celebrate our return.  Yeah beer at 11,000 feet….haha.

We’re camping at the same lodge we camped at on the way up – yay for a second chance to fall off the terrace.  We headed back there for dinner….yak steak!  I’ve never had yak before, and it was actually pretty good – kind of similar to salsbury steak.  Or I just really needed red meat.  Or both.

Now we’re enjoying more beer and playing our nightly dominos game.  We’re in the lodge with two other groups of people on their way up….one group is playing cards in another corner and the other is a group of guys singing to music through their dinner.  Oh to have that much energy again.  haha.  It would be interesting to see them in a week on their way back through….

We met some people at the bar who were also on their way up.  Not sure why drinking was a good call….or not having a buff…but they seemed interested in what we had to say and still have time to buy the stuff they dont have.  They have some tough days ahead of them, but hopefully they have a good time.

Tomorrow, we continue our descent into Phakding…hopefully an easy day since I’ve been up until a whopping 9pm tonight.

Everest Trek – Deboche – 5/12 – 12,300 ft.

Ok, so before the story….I survived four days of bootcamp this week (it’s usually three), but in ‘only me’ fashion, my jeans didnt make it into my bag.  Awesome…way to rock an athleta inspired look of cycling pants and a nice shirt.  haha….oh well.  It actually worked well somehow.  Also, there were some changes to my job….I’ll be working on international stuff and project stuff.  New and different, which is good, but, it’s a lot and I dont have my team anymore.  So, mixed emotions, I would say.

And….on with the story….

Today, we continued our descent to Deboche.  We took the upper trail out to base camp, and we’re taking the lower trail back, so we’ve been able to see a lot of different things and places.  Today was a short hike, only took about three hours, maybe a little more.  It was nice to have a semi-rest day, especially after yesterday’s long day.

Instead of staying at another lodge, we’re camping at the home of one of our guide’s friends from his monastery days.  She’s let us in her prayer room for meals and in between.  It’s a nice, peaceful space, and pretty warm.  Granted, I’m still wearing my parka, but I’m not cold at all.

Tomorrow, we get to visit the Tengboche monastery – that should be cool.  However, it’s a somewhat longer day – 5 hours, and has lots of climbing….and here I thought we were descending.

I spent some of the down time today relaxing in my tent (and making sure the laundry didnt blow away in the wind) and thinking.  We’re nearing the end of the trek, only four more nights, including tonight.  And, I’m not sure how I feel.  On one hand, we spent a year preparing, and its been a great trip.  Granted, being sick for the entire thing has definitely taken away from some of the fun.  On the other hand, I’m kind of ready to be back in Kathmandu – with a bathroom in my hotel room, where brushing my teeth isnt a major production.

But, what a trip this has been….Everest base camp….Kala Patthar…Nepal…how cool are those things?!  At least we have a few more days in Kathmandu at the end.

Ok, bed time, I think it’s the last night to cuddle with a hot water bottle  

Everest Trek – Pheriche – 14,049 ft.

I can’t believe it’s only been one day since yesterday.  Our day started with a wake-up knock at 4:30am.  I was glad that despite the coughing fits, I was able to get a decent amount of sleep.  However, I wasnt ready to be up yet.  Too bad I didnt really have a choice.

After attempting to force down a small breakfast, we were off towards the summit of Kala Patthar.  To say that I was nervous was an understatement – I was nervous it would be too hard or I wouldnt be able to finish.  It was hard, but not too hard.  One of the guides was in front of me the whole time – he helped me fish out my heavy gloves (I thought it would warm up quicker, so had started out in my lighter gloves), he held the top of my water bottle so I could drink with my gloves on, and when we got to the top, he turned to me and said – just two more steps.  And as with every other day on this trip, I did something I didnt think I’d be able to do – I made it up to the top of the 18,500 foot peak.  I wasnt the first, I wasnt the last, but in the end, it didnt matter.  All of us that set out that morning made it to the top.

And the view….it doesnt get much better than a completely unobstructed view of Everest – the Hilary step and the South Col.  We took great photos and got some group and individual shots too.  Definitely some of my favorite shots from the trip.

Then, we made our way down for what felt like the longest day of hiking ever.  We had some tea and cookies in the lodge at Gorak Shep before we officially departed.  It was hot…it was cold…we were pretty much too exhausted to eat lunch.  Nine miles later, we reached our destination.

Once I reached my tent, I barely had the energy to dust myself off (literally) and change clothes.  We had some tea and then we were off to the Himalayan Rescue Association Hospital.  It was interesting to learn about the center, how many people they support – 600 trekkers each season, plus the locals they treat for free during that time.  They’re completely funded through donations and receive no government support.

We had pizza for dinner again – this time with sausage, and spaghetti with yak cheese instead of parmesan cheese.  I thought we were supposed to lose weight on this trip, but these cooks have been amazing.  The things they come up with at several thousand feet of elevation.

After dinner, we had an interesting conversation with our guide about the expedition season ending and the sherpa strike, and he had a very different point of view than we thought.  They’re concerned for the impact to the economy in Nepal – lodges, hotels, shops, etc. in future seasons, if people are afraid something similar might happen, and thus decide not to sign up.

Alright, today has drained pretty much all the energy I had, and the cough is kicking my butt.  Off to sleep with my hot water bottle.

And…there are stray yaks.  Awesome.  But, luckily theyve put up a make shift metal fence to keep them out.  Does that actually work?  We shall see.  And, there are some tied up in here with us, hopefully with a thick rope.