It wasn’t an easy trek, but not impossibly hard either. 15 days of walking took us to Everest base camp, Gokyo Ri and back again. Done. It was mostly upward and I didn’t prepare at all. But I figured the first 3 days were the training, and the others would be painful no matter what. No point in over-preparing now, right?
It turned out okay. A few blisters, a few headaches, nothing more. The altitude meant we couldn’t do more than 5 or so hours a day. That meant, the afternoons were free for tea drinking and feet-rubbing. Perfect! I didn’t make for amazing company most of the way though. As we climbed higher and the oxygen flows slowed, so did my thoughts. Time blurred and became hazy. One step in front of the other was about as complex as by brain could manage.
It was kind of like enforced meditation. Not great for conversation, but excellent for resting the mind. My head was tired after months of really hard work. This past year, my job has been an incredible journey – thrilling even – but also my toughest one yet. Learning to manage a bigger team and working overtime to turn our Nepal development programming into something with strong results that we could all be proud of. This trek, and this time away, was a relief.
These first few days of Kumbu valley were the most fun. Drawbridges, waterfalls, greenery, rivers and trees. And still with free flowing oxygen running to my muscles and head. That all disappeared though, along with my stimulating conversation, after we hit about 4000m. Each ridge we hit felt like the top of the world, like it couldn’t possibly go any higher.