Okay, so I trekked to Everest Base Camp in the beginning of October.
I thought it would be fun to do a few entries on it! I took approximately 23984728374^23 pictures, so I’m going to split them into separate entries (and I’ll do a separate entry for Kathmandu at the very end). Let’s skip to the fun trekking part! And as always, click on any picture to make it bigger!
To begin the ascent to Everest Base Camp, you usually take a small plane from Kathmandu (capital of Nepal) to Lukla.
You can do it the Hillary and Tenzing way and ascend from Kathmandu, but that’s just silly. …I, however, briefly considered it when I saw the plane.
I am frightened of planes. I get scared inside of a jumbo Boeing 777. This plane was tiny and was going to land on a short landing strip on the side of a mountain. There is very little room for error in that kind of situation.
That the flight attendant ran up the aisle during the short flight to hand the pilot a barf bag did not assuage my fears. But after a short flight with breathtaking views, we landed safely in Lukla, and I loosened my death grip on my seat’s armrest.
So after grabbing our bags and drinking some tea, we were off on the beginning of our trek! We first passed through the town of Lukla, with its multitude of tourist shops.
After walking through Lukla, the trek began in earnest.
I should have known to really appreciate that stone path. It would be the last one I would see the entire trip.
On the first day, we traveled from Lukla to Phakding. A word of explanation on the trekking: we each carried our own backpack and our duffel bag was carried by a dzopkyo.
The elegant animal you see here is a dzopkyo, which is a cross between a cow and a yak. Although yaks are usually what come to mind when you think about Everest, dzopkyo are generally the preferred method of baggage handling because yaks cannot descend too far down and donkeys cannot ascend too far up. And that’s how we came to have our bags carried by these weirdos.
The first day trek was quite pleasant and not very difficult. …Which lulled me into a horribly false sense of security. Day two was much, much worse. On day two, we made the trek from Phakding to Namche Bazaar. And to make things more challenging, I was slowly developing a lung infection! My lungs had been bothering me after the first day in Kathmandu, and I had (perhaps foolishly) hoped it would clear up quickly. Day two quashed all hopes of that and breathing became harder and more painful.
The scenery, however, was worth it. The route to Namche was lush and absolutely beautiful.
To the left you can see a snow-capped peak in the background with conifer trees in the foreground. And to the right, a beautiful waterfall decorated with prayer flags!
We also met some animal friends along the way…
We then officially entered Sagarmatha National Park:
It is much more forested than I expected.
We trekked around the river for a while and then found ourselves stepping on stones in the shallow water to cross part of it. And then we came to the most terrifying bridge. A word about bridges on this trip: there are a lot of them and they sway. Up to this point, we had been over several already. But this bridge was high. Very, very high.
See that red arrow? That upper bridge is the one that must be crossed on the way to Namche (the lower bridge was the original bridge but is no longer safe/functional). It is a looong way down. And a long way up. I took the picture on the left during the break before the ascent to reach the bridge. What followed was a very challenging and brisk 30 minute ascent. If you go on this trip, for the love of god, make sure you get your cardio in. On the right you can see the view from the bridge.
After what felt like hours (and probably was hours) of zig-zagging ascent, we trekked through a very beautiful forest.
I couldn’t believe how much it resembled the decidedly deciduous forests back home! In the photo to the right, you can see a Nepalese porter carrying what looks like a heavy load up to Namche.
After what felt like an eternity, we reached Namche. My lungs felt about ready to jump out of my body in protest, but we made it!
What is Namche? It is the largest Sherpa village (really, the largest village in general) on the trail to Base Camp. And it was the most beautiful sight in the world after all the ascending that we did that day.
And thus the second (and hardest) day ended with the moon coming out over the mountains above Namche and me starting a course of antibiotics for my lung infection that would prove to be totally ineffectual.