Post written December 22: Todays’s trek from Namche Bazaar (3440 m) to Tengboche and Deboche (3820 m) was tough. Of course everything was beautiful and we had great sunny views of Everest throughout most of the trek, though clouds began to form above the peak. We first descended 200 metres to the river followed by 600 metres of strenuous uphill. At the current altitude, it was brutal.
When we arrived in Tengboche, we were all exhausted and exceptionally sleepy. Having skipped lunch at the bottom of the hill, the group gorged their meals to replenish. I opted to have a bit of vegetable soup that didn’t sit too well. Then it was off to Tengboche Monastery, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery. It was such a privilege to witness a ceremony… the monks, dressed in robes, wrapped in blankets and sipping tea, reciting and humming what I can assume to be blessings or prayers. Lit candles on one end of the room with a large buddhist figure; two large drums near the rear of the room. The ceremony lasted around half an hour. Despite how cold it was in the room, it was quite an experience. It was then time for a short descent to the Paradise Lodge and Restaurant in Deboche, where we would call home for the night.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this leg was a difficult one. I’ve been sick for a few days now. It started with a stomach bug- vomiting, diarrhea and a headache. My electrolytes were out of whack. And then after taking azithromycin, I haven’t gone to the bathroom in days. My insides feel destroyed and I’m in pain. I’m exceptionally weak, since I’m barely eating. And I think I’m starting to get symptoms of acute mountain syndrome- loss of appetite, lack of sleep, and a chest cough. And my body has been enduring the extremes of the weather- hot hiking days leading to dehydration and freezing nights much colder than I could have imagined.
I’ve been at the back of the pack for most of the trek, which means a lot of time on my own. Halfway up the 600 metre climb, I asked myself, why? Why am I putting myself through what my body considers an extreme situation? I say “my body” because Dan and Sanjay and the others seem to be doing quite well while I can’t help but think this is the best and worst experience of my life. I’m having fun, yes, but I’m so beside myself. I’m not myself. I want to interact less. Part of me wants to be curled up somewhere in Kathmandu waiting for my body to get back to normal. So why? Well, for Everest Base Camp, of course. But why does that mean so much to me?
I’m a big goal setter. It’s about achieving amazing and personal things in this lifetime. The mountains also call me in someway. Is it coincidence that I’m here over Christmas, which is generally my most spiritual time? I don’t think so because there is something spiritual about this trek.
But I ask again, why Everest base camp? And the truth of the matter is that I don’t have an answer. Perhaps I’m searching for something, and this feat will reveal a glimpse of that something. Maybe it just seemed like a cool thing to do and once it was on my list, I had to make it happen. Whatever the case may be, I think the reason is beyond rationalization… Or perhaps because of the altitude I can’t articulate an answer. I just know that I’ve wanted to do this trek for a long time. And to me, that’s reason enough.
How would I feel if I were unable to complete this trek to Everest Base Camp? I’ve had to ask myself this question several times as things become more difficult. The guides are monitoring me carefully to ensure that all is alright. That I am alright. And my answer: I would probably be devastated and situationally sad/depressed. I would be forced to acknowledge a limitation of my body over which I don’t have control. Control… interesting. But then, of course, I would be grateful that people care enough to pull me from a task that may cause permanent harm. And I would try to see the silver lining- that I’ve experienced many days of something I’ve been dreaming about for a long time. I was able to have an amazing experience with Dan and Sanjay, and it’s brought us closer. And I may not have seen Everest from base camp or Kala Patthar, but I did get to see the mountain of the hour in all its glory… Mount Everest in all its awesome beauty.
Tonight I looked at photos of myself and my partner and started tearing up. I promised that I would come back. And in that moment, I wanted to be back home. If I have to end this trek early, I know he will be waiting, ready to comfort me, help me realize that wise decisions were made, and remind me that I did something pretty amazing. Regardless of what happens, how can I not feel a sense of gratitude for what I’ve experienced and accomplished, and for who is in my life? I’ll hold on to that thought. I must hold on to that thought.