Day 11: The View on the Way Down
October 7, 2014
The alarm went off at 4 a.m. to get ready for the early morning hike to Kala Pattar, the 18,100-foot brown bump that offers amazing views of Everest, Lhotse, and Nuptse. It was dark, cold and we had gorgeous views of the stars. I can’t get over how bright there are here.
We headed out about 4:45 a.m., and it was pretty rough going. It was pretty steep, and the temperature was well below freezing. At one point my calve muscles seized up and I had to stop for a moment to massage them. This part I’d have to say was the toughest part of the trek for me. The air was now about 50% of what you’d get at sea level, and I was feeling the lack of air as I was trying to suck as much in as I could. It wasn’t just me though, the whole group was slow moving and trying our best to make our way up this crazy steep hill, that looked like a gradual slope when compared to the white Himalayan peaks surrounding us. It was supposed to take us 2 hours.
Everest Base Camp Trek Day by Day Index
About 30 minutes in, the fog started to roll in, and it wasn’t looking good. It was below us, and it was starting to slowly creep up towards us and block any view of the surrounding mountains. We kept climbing, praying that it would clear up. Another hour in and it was getting worse. The fog was thick, and the temperature kept dropping. We gave it another 15 minutes and then decided to call it off and turn back around. We just didn’t think it would clear up until the sun came up and burned it off, but that would probably take several hours, and we had to schedule to keep.
We had to be leaving Gorek Shep by 9 a.m. at the very latest. So we turned back around disappointed that we didn’t get the breathtaking views of Everest, Lhotse, and Nuptse at sunrise. We found out later from a couple that came back just as we were heading out from Gorek Shep that the fog did clear and it was spectacular. Oh well… we knew there were no guarantees to seeing it and we made the best call with the information and experience from the guides at the time.
It’s been interesting to come back the way we came and to see the view from the other side. I’m starting to notice things that I’ll miss when this trip is over. Things like:
- Seeing the yak trains
- The superhuman porters carrying and balancing astonishing loads and making it look so easy
- The 10 o’clock break for tea in the little picturesque villages
- Awe-inspiring and breathtaking views of the Himalayas in any direction
- Asking my guide, Raj, the name of that mountain for the 6th time because I can’t remember the name or how to say it
- The stillness and quiet
- Time to reflect
- The same items on the teahouse menus meal after meal
- The cozy teahouse dining rooms with the stove in the middle where we all gather to keep warm and chat
- Strategically packing my duffel so that it will be the most comfortable for my porter
- Leaving him little snacks
- Enjoying the good company of those I’m traveling with and those I’ve meet along the way
We were hoping to go an extra two hours today to make tomorrow easier. It didn’t quite happen though. We got to Pheriche, and “S” just couldn’t keep up and was exhausted. We all were but decided to stop at Pheriche and wake up extra early tomorrow to get to Namche Bazaar at a decent time. It’ll still be about an 8 hour walking day tomorrow.
The stop in Pheriche ended up being delightful. We are in a brand new lodge, and they have hot showers…sort of. They rigged a shower by having a bucket filled with hot water on top of a roof that is connected to a shower head by a hose. It uses gravity and a simple nozzle to “turn on and off” the shower by either opening the flow of water through the hose or closing it off. The water was hot, and I haven’t showered in more than a week, so it was AMAZING!! I feel like a brand new person. I even look like one too since no one I’ve been traveling with have seen me without a braid and a hat. 🙂 I don’t think I’ll ever take a hot shower for granted ever again.
We met a couple we’ve seen a few times along the way from Brazil. They quit their jobs and have been traveling around the world for a year since last April. This seems to be a common theme. Anyway, they were delightful, and we taught them how to play Uno while talking to them more about their travels.
Such interesting people up here. The locals are fascinating, and so are the people who decide to come on this crazy trek. We always ask people why they decided to trek to Basecamp and it’s always an interesting answer. People from all ages and from all over the world are here. Meeting many of them and hearing their stories has been a rich part of this adventure.
Tomorrow’s another big day, so I’m off to bed at 8 o’clock which is pretty normal for me these days. Hope all is well back home. Thank you again for your thoughts and prayers and for following this crazy adventure.
Day 12: Back to Namche Bazaar
October 8, 2014
This letter might be a bit on the short side. I ate something at lunch that did not sit right, and I’m feeling a bit sick at the moment. Turns out when you order spaghetti they serve it with fresh basil leaves on top. I totally wasn’t thinking about it being washed in water that I can’t drink and totally downed the whole plate, fresh basil and all. I’ve been so very careful, and today I wasn’t. I’ll be fine in the morning, but will be heading to bed as quickly as possible.
We walked about 9 hours today from Pheriche to Namche Bazaar. Normally this would have taken two days. We have another big day tomorrow from Namche Bazaar to Lukla, which we did in two days on the way up. We are going down, but there are plenty of ups too. 🙂
The views are still gorgeous. We saw trees today for the first time in several days since we’re now below the tree line. The weather is warming up, and the air feels nice and thick. It’s lovely, and I hope never to take air for granted ever again.
One of the highlights today was passing a beautiful, elderly Napali women carrying a basket up the hill and she smiled a big toothless grin and waved at me. She was so happy, and her smile and kindness made my day. These people are so happy and kind. Good hard working people. One thing I’ve noticed that I’d love to do more in my life – they work hard and they play hard.
Another highlight was dragging my very tired body into the Yak hotel in Namche Bazaar and setting my heavy pack down in the dining hall. Several people were seated inside and asked if I had just come up or if I was coming back down. I told them I had just come from basecamp the day before. These people were all on their way up, so they had lots of questions. So for about 10 minutes, I answered all of their questions about altitude sickness, how hard was it, should they take Diamox for the altitude, was it snowing at basecamp, what was the best part, etc. It was kind of funny that I had all of a sudden become the expert in that very moment.
I have one last day in the mountains. I will soak it up and enjoy every clean breath of air and unchaotic moment of it. Goodnight and I’ll check in again either in Lukla or Kathmandu.