unexpected everest (pt 2)

Read part 1 here!

The trek up to base camp was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It was both physically and emotionally so exhausting, being in the constant cold, walking 10+ (uphill) kilometers a day… It was draining. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of the trek because I felt as if I was accomplishing something.

From Lukla, the trail is misleading and downhill. As wonderful as that was, going back up it on the return was agony.

There were 7 suspension bridges in our first day of trekking- each one covered in prayer flags flapping in the wind.

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The views trekking up were breathtaking from the start. Being surrounded by 6000+ m mountains was so surreal. I’ve never really been a “mountain girl,” but it was impossible not to fall in love with being surrounded by such beautiful high peaks.

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Our first view of Everest (from a public toilet with a sign that proudly displays your first view of Everest)IMG_7782

On our way to Namche Bazar, we had to cross Hilary Bridge (the upper one in the photo). As excited as we were to cross the most impressive suspension bridge, we also knew that from that point on, Namche was a 2 hour steep uphill hike away. IMG_7776

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We finally arrived at the checkpoint, which meant that Namche Bazar was only 20 minutes away!!!

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Namche is the biggest town on the trek to EBC. It’s filled with bars and teahouses and shops and is such a fun little place. On our way back, everyone was dreaming of returning to Namche and going to the Liquid Bar for a movie (which they play daily at 3).

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But before we could sit down and relax completely, we had to do an acclimation hike. We went to a viewpoint, and on the way passed a school. The children were so so adorable practicing their English with us.

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The viewpoint was breathtaking. Beyond the statue of Edmond Hilary was Everest and all of the other peaks miles and miles away.

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From Namche Bazar, we trekked up to Pangboche, and from Pangboche, we went to Dingboche. The Pangboche to Dingboche trek was tough, with lots of steep uphill climbs, but the views were 100% worth it. IMG_7884

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We had two days in Dingboche to acclimate, so of course day one started off with another trek uphill.

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From Dingboche, we trekked up to Lobuche, the first place where most of us had headaches.

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After spending a night in Lobuche, we headed up to Gorak Shep, had lunch, and then trekked up to base camp.

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Climbing up to base camp was the hardest part. At the altitude we were at (around 5300 m), the air was so thin and breathing was really hard. It felt as if you could never really catch your breath.

But we ended up making it anyway, and everyone was so happy and proud to make it up! Everyone we had met in Lobuche made it up, and once we had returned to Gorak Shep, there was a really accomplished vibe in the teahouse, despite how exhausted and quiet we all were.

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Sleeping at Gorak Shep (5100 m) was nearly impossible. It was freezing and the altitude was really awful. It felt as if someone was drilling in between my eyes, I had completely lost my appetite (which I have never experienced before), and walking up 4 stairs had me doubled over trying to catch my breath. The next day, I was so ready to start trekking down to a lower altitude.

I was surprised at how difficult going back down was. Although there wasn’t as much of a strain on your lungs because of the altitude, going downhill put a lot of pressure on your joints, especially your knees. Emotionally, it was much easier than going up. I couldn’t wait to get down to a warmer temperature so I could take a shower, and I was so happy to say that I had successfully gone up to base camp.

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It started to snow on our last day of trekking, which I initially was unhappy about (I felt it was too cold), but then came to appreciate.

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After our last uphill push to Lukla, we had made it back to the “starting line.”

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Leaving Lukla was surprisingly bittersweet. I was really happy to be done with trekking (after 12 days, you just get sick of the cold), but at the same time, it was really hard to leave all of the wonderful people I had met and bonded over our suffering with. There was so much I was going to miss about the mountains- the stars at night, the beautiful peaks, drinking endless amounts of tea and hot chocolate. I miss all of those things, and more, already, but I’m glad that I’ve only experienced such things over the past two weeks. It just makes the memories of my trip up to Base Camp more special.

Don’t get me wrong, though. As much as I loved the trek, I’m never doing it again. Maybe a different route, but that was the only time in my life that I will have visited base camp.

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