Post written December 20: Last night was a crazy cold night. During my correspondence with Chattra at Nepal Eco Adentures, he mentioned that you may be hiking in 15 degree Celsius weather, but sleeping in -20 degrees. And sure enough, even with my baselayer, cross country ski pants, wool socks, baselayer top, fleece top, downjacket, sleeping bag fleece liner, and warm sleeping bag, I was cold. Damned cold.
The day began with a small scrambled egg breakfast at the Snowland Lodge. Then at 8 am we were off, walking through the town of Phadking, crossing rivers via suspension bridges, and slowly making our way toward toward the busy town of Namche Bazaar. At 3440 metres, it would be an 800 metre elevation gain over the course of many hours. NBD, I thought. I do that kind of hiking all the time… maybe not at the same altitude, but I wasn’t concerned. After a few hours, we entered Sagarmatha National Park, a World Heritage Site established in 1976, followed by a quick stop for lunch in Jorsalle. I ordered the egg and vegetable noodles, which seemed like a safe choice. Little did I know the havoc on my system that would occur after this.
I can only describe the next many hours as the worst hiking experience ever. Once the inner rebellion began, Dan joked that I only had 3 strikes. It ended up being 5.
Strike 1: I often joke that I have a steel stomach, but clearly this isn’t true. Perhaps a combination of low energy, altitude, dehydration, and the wrong meals contributed to the brewing in my stomach. With each step toward Namche, I had that sensation of wanting to vomit. Finally I decided to force it. I drank some water, and once the sensation came, I bent over at the side of the trail and hurled. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a satisfying one, but it did the trick for the time being.
Strike 2: I rejoined the group at a break spot (I was the slowest one all day for obvious reasons), and then we crossed a suspension bridge. With my hands feeling cold, I reached for my new gloves that I received for Christmas, but they were nowhere to be found. The assistant guide Nik graciously backtracked to find them, which were procured by a porter. So this ended well, but it caused another delay. I was totally ‘that guy’.
Strike 3: My bowels haven’t been happy with me for days. At a very visible section of the trial, my insides decided it was time to expel. There was an experience on the Inca Trail where I had to drop my backpack and drop trou adjacent to the trail. In this instance, I was able to find a hidden nook, but oh man, it was the full on runs. The trots. The scoots. The green apple splatters. Whatever you want to call it, diarrhea was in full effect. I would later begin the azithromycin antibiotics. At this point, I was a self destructing mess.
Strike 4: Remember that vomiting incident that didn’t feel complete? Naturally, the completion was just around the corner. At this point, the assistant guide was carrying my day pack while Dan walked alongside carrying my water. Then it happened. The hurl to end all hurls. I had the most violent heaving on record, and with each one, my stomach and insides felt like they were being ripped apart. Everything I had eaten for lunch rushed up my esophagus, splattering on the ground. I think there were a solid 4 upchucks filled with lunch. Oddly enough, the noodles and veggies looked the same as before, save the sauce that my body must have absorbed. With the tears streaming down my face and the snot falling from my nose, I was most definitely a hot mess.
Strike 5: I was ecstatic that the food was out of me, but now my electrolytes were completely out of whack! I could not keep water down, and my body had expelled all nutrients that I had ingested throughout the day. So very quickly, the cramping came on. With each step, different parts of my legs would cramp up so badly that I could barely move. I stopped to take hydralyte packets to help restore the electrolyte balance, and eventually it must have worked, because I was able to make it Namche Bazaar. I have never been so happy to enter a town before. Not just because Namche sits in the Khumbu Valley on the side of the mountain where chickens, goats and cows roam freely through its streets. But because I could finally rest. And oh how I needed all the rests.
With 5 strikes, you’d think I’d want to call it a day. But it was all worth it when we hit the view point. The snowcapped black rock that is Mount Everest stood far away, looking majestic. It was the first view of the ultimate mountain. Gotta keep my eye on the prize.
Once we checked into the Yak hotel, Dan brought me hot water, bottled water, some ginger tea, and paid for my hot shower. Then he was off to get some digestive cookies to help for the night. I may say he’s the ugliest friend I have, but once in a while, he’s alright. And the other travelling companions- Sanjay, Alan and Petrina, continuously checked in with me offering advice, hugs, and medication. Their support throughout the day was appreciated more than they’ll know.
As I write this, it’s the morning after the hellish hiking day. I think I feel better. We have an acclimatization day, where we’ll trek 400 metres up to a tea house with a great view of Everest. Here’s to hoping that my body holds out!