Everest Base Camp Trek: The Final Hurdle

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe river of mud, yak poo and urine beneath my feet had become a blur some kilometres back, all that mattered now was that my feet were taking me forward, not what they were stepping in.

I began chanting to myself, one … two … three ….

One, two, three, counting my footsteps, counting the steps getting me closer to the end. Every turn on the track spat out more steps upwards, never ending, one, two, three.

One … two … three … Yangjing’s encouraging ‘not far now,’ urging me forward, washed over me as the mud ran under my feet. I’d long since stopped looking for the end point. The late afternoon dampness enveloped me, so far removed from the morning crispness we had set off in some 10 hours ago.

Yangjing, one of our guides - I owe her a huge debt of thanks.

Yangjing, one of our guides – I owe her a huge debt of thanks.

At what point had enthusiasm for the day’s challenge turned into a struggle and then into a determination that blotted out all else? There was no option, I had to keep going, I would reach the end.

Ironic, that as we headed theoretically down the mountain, the track took us upwards to our destination. This was our starting point just over two weeks ago, obviously we set off in a downwards direction but who realised or remembered that this is what we would face at the end. I certainly never thought that one of my biggest struggles would face me on this last day.

The entrance to the Sagamartha National Park, the gate that we’d originally passed through enthusiastically and with a verve that had gone missing in me in recent hours came into view, but still more steps.

Upwards.

One … two … three …

Finally, after what seemed like forever, I walked under that arch, through that entrance way and back into Lukla. That main street didn’t seem so long the last time I walked it. One … two … three ….

One … two … three. The slippery rocks that paved the way needed a watchful eye and careful footwork, the open ditch needed to be crossed, I almost stumbled and needed Yangjing’s steadying hand.

More steps up to the lodge, I grabbed the handrail needing all the help I could get. It was no longer one, two, three but one … one … one …

And then it was over.

I’d done it.

I’d trekked from Lukla to Everest Base Camp and returned. The tears held determinably in check for the last couple of hours erupted, there was no stopping them. The seat that I collapsed onto was so welcome, my legs no longer capable of supporting me.

Others in the group who’d arrived half an hour in front of me shouted their congratulations and high fived me, but all I could do was sob. Anande put a warming cup of hot mango juice in front of me, at least I think it was mango, he accepted my gulp of thanks and refilled the cup as I emptied it.

From my sitting position I unloaded my pack from my back, leant my hiking pole against the wall, leaned back and breathed.

Yep, I’d done it and despite my tears I was grinning inside.

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The Things We Do In The Name Of Travel!

I’ve just had a chat with my doctor – about injections!

Aaaargh

I’m sure I didn’t think this through when I decided to do this trip! For travelling to Nepal it’s recommended that I have a polio booster, a tetanus booster, a combined Hepatitis A and Typhoid course (2 injections) and a Hepatitis B course (3 injections).

My doctor didn’t consider that I would need rabies and malaria shots but that’s for me to decide after reading the literature and weighing up the likely risks. My inclination is to say no, I don’t need them, but if anyone’s got any advice they can give me on this, please, jump in here.

The Hepatitis and Typhoid ones will cover me for around 20 years so it’ll be a worthwhile exercise, particularly considering I’m thinking of heading to South America in the next couple of years.

But ….. Aaaargh, Eeeek, Ouchhhh……

Think I might need someone to hold my hand, or maybe a good dose of pre injection bourbon might do the trick. Is that allowed? Probably not 😦

There are some Amazing people out there!

When I initially set up my fundraising page with PLAN I had to set a target. I was worried when I set it that I wouldn’t be able to reach it, but there are some AMAZING people out there and, through your generosity, we’ve already hit the $1,000 mark.  Wow!

Some of these people are friends, others I’ve come to know through the blogging world but there are some who I’ve no idea who they are. To all of you wonderful people goes a huge thank you.

By supporting me on my trek to Everest Base Camp next May to celebrate my 60th birthday and the 60th anniversary of the first successful ascent of Mt Everest by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, your donations are helping out with the Because I’m a Girl campaign.

Girls washing their hands in clean water in Vietnam.

This campaign aims in particular to promote the education of girls by fostering an awareness in their communities of the advantages of extending the time a girl spends in school.

One in three girls around the world is denied an education with less than half the girls in the developing countries completing primary school. One in seven girls in developing countries is married by the age of fifteen, in Indonesia 36% of marriages involve children under the age of sixteen.

With your support girls like 15 year old Lamana are empowered to change their future. Lamana was forced to marry a man twice her age who beat her when she tried to leave the house. Despite the disapproval of her community, Lamana fought  to leave her violent husband. With Plan’s help and her family’s support she has moved back home and returned to school allowing her to regain her confidence.

Girls at a Plan supported school in Sierra Leone

Research shows that just one extra year of schooling can boost girls eventual wages by 10 to 25 per cent. This has a long term ripple effect on the wellbeing of their families and communities.

So, although my fundraising is going well I would urge you all to help me out here and keep up the momentum by donating to this worthy cause. You can hit the donate tab up the top there or head straight to http://fundraise.plan.org.au/travellingbag

Improving the education of girls will act as a positive step towards a more just world.

Train hard, Fight easy.

No, I’m not training for the SAS, although at times I do begin to wonder.

I mentioned recently how well my training was going and hence (don’t you love that word) my decision to extend my trek and go as far as Everest Base Camp next year. My friends, the steps, are gradually succumbing to my constant attempts to defeat them but, each time I get comfortable with the number of times I’m climbing them, my slightly pushy training partner (AKA Yes sir Sergeant Major) decides it’s time to add on a couple more ups and downs. Would you believe we’re up to 14 – yes, 14 times up and 14 times down.

Steps, steps and more steps1

I’ve now also started doing regular weekend hikes, these were initially done with a small (very small) backpack but last weekend I figured it was time to delay no longer and do it with the PROPER daypack. You remember the one, made to fit us ladies, and how excited I was to be buying it.

Hiking with pack

The day pack & I – our first outing together

So, I put a few things into it, including a litre bottle of water (which is quite heavy in itself), and set off on my walk along the Bells Rapids Trail. Unfortunately the steepest part of this trail is at the beginning, before my legs have actually had time to realize what they are meant to be doing and, with the aforementioned training partner striding out on legs rather longer than mine, it’s a struggle to keep up. But, the whole Base Camp Trek thing is not a race, so as long as I get to where I’m going I’m happy.

I must say I coped very well with the larger pack, in fact, if anything, it was more comfortable than the small one. It didn’t feel cumbersome and the straps didn’t rub at all, from now on I’ll gradually be adding weight to it.

Bells Rapids Trail waterfall

Half way up the waterfall – not much water falling I’m afraid.

Not content with the track though we have also taken to climbing. The first week it was up a number of rocky outcrops to find a waterfall. We found it but there wasn’t a lot of water falling from it. We’ve also taken to scrambling up some large boulders for our mid hike break. I must say it’s worth it for the views.

Bells Rapids Trail

The view is worth the climb

Ultimately though all of this hard work will be worth it, I’d rather find it difficult now then when I get to the Himalayas. So, in the immortal words of the SAS I intend to TRAIN HARD, FIGHT EASY.