Feeling: UP AND DOWN
When you think “descending” you think down, right?
Mate, some inclines we tackled on return were greater gradients than on the way up. But it was incredible; we were so much fitter, faster. The reduced oxygen as we got higher and higher meant our bodies grew used to functioning on less, so when we came down to an abundance of air we were high and flying.
With one day taken out through the cancelled flight in, we had to hop-skip it down to Lukla in a mere three days rather than the scheduled four. So day one of “down” meant a massive decrease alternation in altitude of 1100m to Orsha, where we had a night with the AGG again.
Day two had us back to Namache Bazaar, my favourite, (and again with the AGG). Here we all indulged in a well deserved Everest beer. I tell ya, I’m quite the lightweight at the best of time but two sips in and I could’ve been anyone’s (alas, not Josh’s).
“Chuck” had decided to make the move with us and we couldn’t very well tell him to take a hike (he already was; sorry, so golden). But it’s funny, his presence no longer had me seeing him as a needy nuisance. He was just a nincompoop. But he was a doosh; on the last day he stopped a good six or seven times to grab a beer as he made his way back. Maybe if you were with a group of mates doing a collective crawl, but on your lonesome, making a spectacle and seemingly disrespecting Ram in the process? Pretty tosser-like if you ask me.
From Namache we had a seven hour hurl down to Lukla and our starting point. A mere 11 days had passed since we graced the gateway with our eager, naive selves. Crossing back through the arch felt like a lifetime had passed.
I found the entire experience far more mentally taxing than physically demanding. I think I was a lot fitter than I gave myself credit for, or else my mind was battling bigger bastards than the hilt of the hills. Don’t think I mean it was easy; Cripes no, that trek was testing, trying and turbulent, but it has skyrocketed to the forefront of the list of the optimum things I have done to date.
I learnt to be able to take the back. It’s not necessary to always lead and be first and frontal. It doesn’t mean you’re any less best or substandard. Somedays you may just need to take it slow for yourself. Others you may just want to actually note your surroundings, rather than fly on and disregard the simple beauties.
We were so so blessed with the weather. Like chucklesomely so. Literally the first day of descent the forecast turned and the scenery was masked behind a thick haze of fog. It was like someone had draped an almost opaque mosquito net around us and the mountains disappeared. Shit, if you hadn’t known you would never have realised just what you were missing. I was so, so grateful for our magical meteorology the whole way up.
Along the way there and back (not up and down to describe each way), little objects and items on me had me thinking lovingly of important people. Whenever I laced up my hiking boots I thought of Deb; my insulated Kathmandu jacket delivered me daydreams of Dad; my supremely perfect backpack took me to thinking of one of my favourite friends Adele; my little “Poppy pile” of goodies gifted to me in India from Canadian Jenn made me think of her. It was so nice to have these tangible triggers to spur fond thoughts.
Our last night in Lukla we had dinner with all the boys including the two porters, Nima and Raj. Throughout the whole trip, none of them had eaten with us at mealtimes, instead them having to hoe back their nightly Dahl Baht after we’d been fed and watered. It was lovely to all sit together as a family (we really had become one in a sense) and laugh and relive moments, concluded with copious games of Uno.
I was in a fearful flutter as the Lukla Airport had been closed that day due to weather conditions, with no one getting in or out. We were booked in for a 7am departure the following morning; if we didn’t take off, I would have to change my ticket back to NZ and stay in Nepal another few days, also meaning a necessary visa extension. While the idea of this partially appealed, I prayed my heart out the sky would be crystal clear so I could get out and get home.
Whoever was up there was obviously susceptible to the old Pop charm, because with 5am came no clouds. We walked to the airport (the crazy short runway was literally outside my room window) and waited with bated breath. Would we or wouldn’t we?
Oh, we would.
Here I would like to note and give a shout out to the furiously fast and friendly turnaround at Lukla airport. The plane hasn’t even landed and the load of people flying back are being sheparded onto the Tarmac. I was literally bounding up the plane steps a second after the final passenger exiting made his way down. I feel like every other airport should mould their haste from this regime.
Then we were up, up and away. We cheered, we whooped, we cat called. A shower awaited!
And oh fudge sickles, what a shower.
We returned to the Kathmandu Guest House in Thamel, unbelievably smelly, sweaty and stenchy. I got my room key, recovered my suitcase from storage and pretty much high jumped to my room. I had an open scheduled appointment with some soap, shampoo and the shower.
When you haven’t had a proper sponge and scour in 11 days, the fiesta (I had “feel” there but auto correct blew my choice of word out of the water) of jets of H20 on your back is pure, unadulterated bliss. I honestly was in there for a good half an hour. I would’ve carried on into the afternoon should the boys not have knocked on my door to go get breakfast.
Later (after some serious shopping to spend my last thousands – alas, rupees not dollars) I lay on my bed and sifted through my hundreds of photos from the past week. It felt like a dream. Was that really me? Had I seriously trekked more than 120km to 5364m above sea level, to the infamous Everest Base Camp?
I find it pushing to be proud of myself. Not to toot my own trumpet, but achievements like dux my few years at Uni, graduating, getting good grades; it’s all been fleeting and fugacious amour propre. But this?
I am jubilant, rapturous, exultant with myself. What a fucking feat. It sure surpasses being the first Brownie ever in my pack to fill my sash with badges (probably my top personal triumph up to this point).
Like, I accomplished Everest Base Camp. I tackled some serious shit with no smokescreens. I actively pursued UltraPop.
Success? Fucking aye. I’m in absolute august with myself.