Everest Base Camp Trek Travelogue: Day 7 & 8

Day 7: Above the Tree Line

October 3, 2014

It was cold last night. You can tell we’re getting higher up. I slept in my down jacket and was toasty, but those bathroom breaks were killer. 🙂 I’ve started to develop what they call the “Khumbu Cough.” It started yesterday morning, but went away and then it came back last night and today. It’s from the altitude, the cold, and the dryness. I’ve started wearing my buff around my nose and mouth at all times now. It’s almost like a humidifier. My breath I breathe out is somewhat trapped by the buff, and then it’s warmer and more moist on the way in. Hopefully, it’ll help. I still feel fine; I just have a cough and runny nose.

It was another gorgeous day today. The skies were crystal clear this morning, and we had panoramic views of Everest, Lhotse, Ama Dablam and several others. They are just so majestic. There is a stark difference between the changing color of the leaves on the few trees and the white caps of these mountains. All of them are over 7000 meters, with most being over 8000. Fun fact for you – 14 mountains in the world are over 8000 meters; 8 of them are in Nepal.

We’re above the tree line now, and I started to notice brown clumps drying on the rock walls as we would pass villages. I learned that they are yak dung mixed with some grasses and are made into patties and dry on the walls. They then use them for fuel since there isn’t any trees/wood. You use what you got I guess. Anything to cook food and keep warm. I’m not complaining. 🙂

Everest Base Camp Trek Day by Day Index
Above the Tree line - Everest Base Camp Trek
Above the Tree line - Everest Base Camp Trek
Stupa along the trail - Everest Base Camp Trek
Older stupa along the trail
Yak dung drying on rock walls - to be used as fuel
Yak dung drying on rock walls - to be used as fuel

Today we hiked probably 12k’s (7.4 miles). It took us over 7.5 hours. Normally it would have taken a group 5 hours, but my Singaporean friends are both struggling big time. My guy friend is showing symptoms that our guide is a little concerned about. He never catches his breath. He’s nauseous, has a headache, feels dizzy, and is just plain exhausted. His willpower is amazing. I’ve never seen anyone just keep going like he is. He said he feels like he’s drowning though. They’re watching him pretty closely tonight.

We made it to Dingboche, and we have a rest day tomorrow. We have a small hike to get our altitude in. It’s all part of the hike high, sleep low philosophy to help us adjust to the altitude. My guy friend will probably just rest and take it easy. They will see if he’s feeling any better and if not, he might get a helicopter ride down.

One of the Australians from the other group was sick in Namche Bazaar. He stayed an extra day to see if he would feel better. He and his buddy started out towards Tengboche today with their porter. He started feeling sick again. We just got word that they had to send for a helicopter to take him back down to Kathmandu. It’s starting to hit me how intense this hike is and how sick people can get.

Arriving in Dingboche on a misty afternoon
Arriving in Dingboche on a misty afternoon

I’m still feeling really good. I can breathe. My heart rate doesn’t jump up that high, and I can go for quite a long time. I only stop because I want to stay with the group. The hard part is going so slow and taking so many breaks. I almost feel a little guilty that I’m doing as well as I am. I’ve been praying my heart out for both of them, but they’re just struggling. We’ll see things go in the next few days.

The Australians head out tomorrow. They don’t have a rest day like we do. So…it’ll be goodbye tonight. We’re going to exchange contact info and share a dropbox of all of our photos. I’m going to miss them. We didn’t hike a whole lot with them, but we always stayed at the same places and shared our meals together.

We’re five days into the hike, and I love it. I’m grateful for every day on the mountain. I’m sad it’s going so quickly, and I’m trying to live in the moment and savor every bit of this experience. I’m learning so much. I’m learning to listen to my body. I’m learning what I think about when I don’t have any other distractions. I’m learning that I pray a lot, which I’m quite pleased about. This truly has been a wonderful experience, and I’m only halfway through the trip. 🙂

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers!

Marianne

Day 8: Rest Day in Dingboche

October 4, 2014

Today was a rest day in Dingboche. We still did a hike up to over 15,000 feet this morning, but the rest of the day we had free. A rest day was seriously what we all needed. I didn’t realize how tired I was until we had some free time today. All I wanted to do was sleep. 🙂 I took a 20 minute power nap and seemed to be ok. I didn’t sleep very well last night, so I’m hoping tonight will be better. I found out that this is all part of the altitude. The higher you get, the harder it is to sleep. We are now 14,469 feet.

This mornings hike was again, spectacular. Every time I think it can’t get any more amazing, it does. When we see these peaks from different angles, or when new ones pop up that we haven’t seen before, it continues to blow my mind.

We hiked to the top of this hillside, and we had 360-degree views of all of the peaks surrounding us. We couldn’t see Everest but had spectacular views of Lhotse, Ama Dablam (which is two peaks, but you don’t know it until you’re at the right angle), and Island Peak.

The view above Dingboche
The view above Dingboche (above 15,000 feet) during our acclimatization hike
So many peaks above Dingboche
So many peaks above Dingboche

We spend our rest day exploring the little village of Dingboche and playing cards. There’s more to Dingboche than I would have thought. Each plot of land is separated by rock walls that have been carefully built with hand chiseled rock. You could hear men shaping the rock pretty much the entire day. There are two bakeries, one Internet cafe, and several guesthouses and restaurants. There’s a helicopter landing pad where we saw a local woman who had been carried down from the next town over and helicoptered off to Kathmandu. At first, we thought she was dead, but come to find out she wasn’t. The harsh life that comes from living up here is starting to sink in a bit.

All of us are starting to feel more and more the effects of the altitude, which are normal. We are tired, get an occasional headache, are starting to lose our appetite, and are starting to have problems sleeping at night. We only have a few more days till we reach the base camp and then start to come back down. It’s only temporary, and I am doing reasonably well. I do have the full blown Khumbu cough, and a cold has set in, but I’m armed with cold medicine, cough drops, and I drink herbal tea every chance I get, so it’ll pass. 🙂

Tomorrow we trek to Lobuche. That’s the final village before we make our way to Gorek Shep and Base Camp. Tomorrow is also when Raj, our guide, will decide what to do about my Singaporean friend. He’s still not doing great, but he’s got the best attitude about the whole situation.

Each day we get closer and closer to base camp. I am loving every day and soaking it all in. Joy in the journey.

I’ll check in again tomorrow if the wifi gods are willing. 

Marianne

Everest Base Camp Trek Day by Day Index

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