Guys. In February 2016 I jumped on a flight from Delhi to Kathmandu. The plan was to meet a friend and do a long-ass trek
(not to be confused with a long ass-trek) from Jiri to Everest Base camp and back. Google tells me that this is approximately 300km, and the total altitude gained is around 9000m, which is taller than Everest. A whole lotta uppy-downy.
My lovely travel companion and I took the standard horrifying 10 hour ride from Kathmandu to Jiri where we stayed our first night. The next morning my travel companion woke up feeling a little under the weather, but we made the decision to make the trek to Shivalaya (a village about 3.5 hours away). If memory serves me correctly, it was on and off rain and that kind of weather that is both too hot and too cold. We got turned around on several occasions (no, really, we don’t need no guide) and were moving at a slow pace, so the walk took us about double the time. But it was beautiful, look!
We spent a few nights in Shivalaya while my companion worked on restoring his health, however things did not improve and we made the tough decision to part ways (him back to Kathmandu via jeep and me onwards and upwards). I was only mildly petrified about striking off on my own, and as luck would have it, a small group of British doctors showed up at our guesthouse with a guide and agreed to adopt me.
The five us us trekked for a solid 10, 11, 14 days? This is where my story telling gets a little hazy and I dazzle you instead with a (chronological) series of low quality cellphone shots of the Himalayas.
I was originally of the opinion that trekking was probably pretty easy. I mean, walking, right? Guys, no. It’s actually pretty hard. But those mountains. Totally worth the numbness in my legs and emerging bedsores on my hips and freezing cold bucket showers in the outdoors and the probable vitamin deficiency in my body.
Eventually, after, maybe 7 days(?) we get to Namche and our relatively solitary trip turns into the Disney World of Nepal with high-end cafes and shops and even an Irish pub. We had witnessed a fair amount of devastation in the less trekked regions due to the earthquake a year earlier, but from this point up, everything (I use this term lightly) had been restored in time for tourist season.
We rested here for an extra day to acclimatize to the altitude (3,500m) and then said goodbye to our guide. The going was a little slower from here, as the altitude increased more steeply, and to avoid symptoms of sickness (and DEATH is a symptom), it is recommended to ascend only 300-500m per day.
The Brits and I parted ways after our night in Tyengboche. That was our coldest night yet, and it had me full-on regretting my choice to trek in half-assed gear (for example, running shoes and harem pants). I spent the next four days trekking solo, which is not quite as bad-ass as it sounds because the trail was well marked (follow the yak trains!) and you never walked far without running into another trekker.
Okay, so this post is already too long, so i’ll summarize the best bits. I met some rad people. pet a yak, experienced some funny hallucinations at 5000m and made it to base camp! The way back was quick and easy, however I didnt have enough time on my visa to make it back to Jiri, which meant being forced to take the plane out of Lukla. This was about a million times more terrifying than the bus ride in and a gajillion times more expensive. Not recommended, guys.
So there it is. Too many pictures and not enough story, but I only did it for the views and the air and too see that mystical mountain where all those expeditions and documentaries take place. If you’re still reading by this point, here are a few words of advice:
1. Start your trip in Jiri. When you fly directly into Lukla, you miss out on so much beauty, solitude and yak cheese.
2. If you hire a porter or guide, DO YOUR RESEARCH and go with reputable companies. Porters do dangerous work for little money and it’s your responsibility to make sure your staff are taken care of.
3. Bring a game. Or 12. We spent our evenings playing San Juan. I think the Brits were more sad to say goodbye to the game than they were to me.
4. Eat as much local food and drink as possible. This includes the locally brewed/fermented beverages like chaang, tongba and raksi.