Time to say goodbye to Everest region, relax and take it all in...

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March 18th 2013
Published: May 4th 2013
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Day 9 – Gorakshep to Orsho

It was absolutely freezing in the room in the morning – even my hygienic wipes were frozen (which meant there would be no shower that day 😉)! So it was quite difficult to get out of the sleeping bag and even more so when thinking about walking again… I was feeling much better – physically and mentally!, but still pretty week and all my muscles were sore. But then it sure was time to head back to lower altitudes. There was an optional trek in the morning to Kala Pattar (they say if you have a choice and the strength to go to only one – either to the Everest Base Camp or to Kala Pattar, you should choose the latter one, as to be honest except the sign and a few tents set up for expeditions a bit further away, there’s not much to see at the base camp, while from Kala Pattar there is a nice view of Everest and some other peaks as well). Ah well… The goal was to reach Everest Base Camp after all so went for the base camp option hoping there would be some strength left to make it to Kala Pattar as well, but since the walk to the base camp took all my energy (and spirits for that matter) I knew that this optional trek (and to a higher altitude than the base camp, as Kala Pattar is at 5,545m while EBC ‘only’ at 5,364m) would just kill me, so already the night before decided not to do it, half of the group made the same decision as I did, while the other half set off at 6am to Kala Pattar to see the Everest. I was surprised to see everyone back at 7.30 already when I came downstairs to the dining area for breakfast. They said it was so cold (over -15C) that it was simply impossible to walk, so they made it half way and just decided to go back. Well, looked like I made the right decision of not going then.

One person from our group seemed to be missing at our breakfast that morning. It turned out that he was taken around 4am from our guesthouse and carried back to Lobuche as he was feeling pretty bad and had some serious difficulties with breathing – looked like altitude sickness for sure so he just needed to descent to lower altitude… We were supposed to meet him in Lobuche and hopefully trek back altogether from there. So after breakfast we set off back to Lobuche. The 2,5 hour walk turned out to be pretty exhausting again. And it was only the first part of the trek for that day, so I was wondering how on earth I was going to make it further, but as soon as we started descending to the lower altitude, it seemed a bit easier to breathe at least. When we got to Lobuche, our friend was already gone as they said that with his heavy breathing he really had to walk very slowly but we would probably catch up with him along the way anyway… So after a short break it was time to leave Lobuche. We came across our buddy just around the memorials site, again he seemed to have some serious problems with breathing, so the assistants stayed with him to rest a bit longer, while we moved further downhill. Soon after we stopped for a lunch break, and there our guide Ashok had to arrange a pony for our friend to take him to the nearby hospital as at this point he just couldn’t walk on his own anymore, the assistants had to help him get down the hill by supporting him from both sides… Having pictured in our minds the path that was ahead of us, we knew that it was going to be a difficult ride, both for our guy, and for the horse as well. Still the pony seemed like the best option and definitely the fastest way to get some medical help for our poor trekker. Once he left, we continued walking further downhill and some time later we reached the village with the hospital where our friend was taken to. His buddy and one of the guides, Pemba stayed there as well to make sure everything went alright while the rest of us headed to Orsho. We were all exhausted at this point – not to mention that some of us did the additional 1,5h walk half way to Kala Pattar that morning… I sure was glad I didn’t do it… Would be great to see Everest from there but there was no way I would be able to do it that morning, so next time I guess… Later on Pemba arrived bringing more news about our friend. It seemed that indeed he was in an advanced phase of altitude sickness, and would be taken back to a hospital in Kathmandu by a helicopter in the morning. Well, not a great news but at least we knew he was in good hands and were hoping that he would soon stand on his feet. We sure were looking forward to seeing him back in Kathmandu! Everybody was glad that the day was finally over! What a day that was!!!

Day 10 – Orsho to Namche Bazaar

Another long day of trekking… Still the spirits seemed to have lifted up a bit and everybody was happy to be descending to lower altitudes. On the way up to the base camp everyone was concentrating more on walking rather than the views around, so it was lovely to enjoy the sun and look around a bit more admiring the picturesque Himalayan views while going downhill… Our first stop on the way back was Tengboche, somehow nobody seemed to have noticed that we had been sleeping right next to the bakery a couple of nights before!!! Not sure how that happened! Well, it sure was time to make up for it then and we had some lovely fresh brownies for ‘second’ breakie here! Honestly everybody was wondering how we managed to miss that as we literally had been sleeping right next to it! Ah well, better now than never! After a short break everybody was eager to move on further as the idea of a hot shower in Namche was stuck in our heads for a couple of days now. So picked up our backpacks and off we went again! First it was a descent to Dudh Kosi river and a moment after a climb back to Namche… Wasn’t too happy about the latter part as at this point some nasty blisters were forming on my toes from descending, so the further we walked the more my feet were hurting, but I wasn’t the only one as another girl from our group seemed to be limping at this point from blisters as well. So we were just taking our time and walking in the back, enjoying the views and making photos with some cute kids on the way… Even though the walk wasn’t too steep, still it felt as if we were climbing most of the time, I guess we were just tired so it just seemed harder than it really was, but we sure felt quite relieved once we started getting closer to Namche… Hmmm... One thought seemed to be moving all the other ones away - hot shower was waiting… Yep, it’s the small things that count the most, but you learn to appreciate them once you have limited or no access to them right? 😊

Day 11/12 – Namche Bazaar to Phakding/ Phakding to Lukla

It sure was sad to leave Namche as it meant that the trek was slowly coming to an end and we were about to leave the Everest region in no time at all. But then it was also a great feeling to be going to lower altitudes and be able to breathe normally at last (it sure was a relief for the ones who struggled with breathing along the way – like myself). It seemed like there were more trekkers going up to the base camp at this time (the season was definitely starting) as we were passing many groups along the way, always exchanging smiles and greeting each other with 'Namaste'. And seeing all these trekkers only made us realise again that we have completed our goal! And now all that was left to do was to reminisce and reflect on our achievements.

We could’ve easily walked the whole distance from Namche to Lukla in one day, but since our flight couldn’t be moved a day earlier there was no point rushing to get to Lukla. Therefore our two last days of trekking were very relaxed and quite short as well actually. I for sure was in no hurry, was taking my pace, enjoying the views and snapping photos here and there. Everybody else from our group seemed to be more relaxed and rested as well – finally no altitude sickness, no tummy problems, even the blisters weren’t bothering anyone at this point - happy faces all around! Once we got to Phakding, the boys even treated themselves to some beers with the guides in one of the local pubs, while the girls stayed in the guesthouse and watched ‘Seven years in Tibet’ – I would’ve rather gone to have a pint than watch a movie (especially that I have seen it before already) but none of the girls seemed to be too enthusiastic about this idea so stayed in the guesthouse after all. And it turned out to be a pretty good idea as some boys were pretty drunk when they came back for dinner – and they sure couldn’t blame it on the altitude at this point, so the cause of it was just the quantity. It sure was funny to listen to their drinking stories though 😉.

Since only Ashok was going back with us to Kathmandu, we decided to have a dinner altogether with the guides and porters in Lukla. We haven’t really seen much of the porters during our trek but it sure was nice to sit altogether, thank them for all their hard work and give them a small token of our appreciation. Everybody had a nice time that evening and it was a perfect ending to an amazing trek.

There was only one thing left to do – catch a flight back to Kathmandu that is! It sure didn’t look too promising as from the early afternoon it was raining and even hailing at some point! At a nearby café we met some fellow trekkers who said that apparently there were no flights the last few days… oops! Thankfully we were up on the list (as the ones with flights cancelled are pushed back at the back of the list), so fingers crossed… It definitely felt like it was time to go back home – or in my case hotel in Kathmandu . 😊

Day 13 – Lukla to Katmandu 😊

What a great feeling it was to wake up and see blue skies with no clouds whatsoever! We were very lucky, that’s for sure! We said our last goodbyes to the assistant guides and the porters – pretty sad to be leaving them as after all they were taking care of us for the last two weeks! But had to be done, so after all the hugs it was time to board the plane and fly to Kathmandu. Unfortunately I was sitting on the wrong side of the plane, so had to twist my neck a bit to see the Everest range for the last time. Still the views were simply breath-taking! Himalayas sure are the most beautiful mountains in the world!

We had a nice surprise at our hotel as our lost buddy welcomed us at the entrance. It was great to see him looking all healthy again and in good spirits as well! We were really looking forward to taking a proper shower and grooming ourselves a bit, so straight after saying hello to our buddy everybody headed to their rooms. And a few hours later we met in the lobby again. What a sight that was! No more trekking clothes, all shiny and clean, nice smelling hair and the boys even shaved for the occasion! It was as if we saw each other for the first time, everybody looked so different! 😊

For our final dinner we headed to Rum Doodle – it used to be a favourite meeting place for some famous mountaineers like Hillary himself so definitely felt like the right place to go to. It was a very enjoyable evening, we had some decent food, a couple of drinks, some dancing and singing as well (well, that was later on actually) and we even signed our own yeti footprint and left it hanging up from the ceiling in the restaurant. It was a good night out with a lovely bunch of people and a great ending to the whole Everest Base Camp trekking experience! It sure will stay in my memories for a long time… Himalayas! I’ll be back! And sooner than you think! 😉

A few final thoughts on the trek…

Where do I start? Hmmm… Well, let me just say that this trek was nothing like I expected but at the same time everything and more! Definitely was more challenging that I thought it would be, not only due to altitude but thanks to some pretty steep climbs as well. It was way colder than I imagined also – way colder! Even though up in Gorakshep I had lots of second thoughts about doing this trek, I think it was the exhaustion that was just clouding my thoughts as the last few days coming back from the base camp my mind seemed to get clearer and I finally realised that this trek wasn’t meant to change my life or anything like that… It was just another challenge that I set before myself and even though barely, but still completed it successfully and it sure was one of these experiences that I would never forget! After all I passed a big test of endurance so in the end I felt really good that I was able to do it, to make it all the way to the end. What’s even more while walking these long hours each day I also had a chance to look at my life and think about all these silly little things (well maybe not all of them were that silly) that were messing with my head the last few months (or maybe years even) and realise that they didn’t really matter anymore as what really counted was here and now… It was high time to enjoy my life and leave some silly worries and expectations behind… So after all I did learn something about myself along the way and even though everybody from my group thought I was crazy doing another trek, I was actually looking forward to trekking in two weeks again and was wondering what other experiences Annapurna Circuit would bring into my life… But the two weeks of a break in between sounded like a great plan as well. 😊

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