It wasn’t until I stepped foot on Everest Base camp, tears running down my face, hands shaking with cold and my legs shaking with emotion that it hit me. We are here, we made it and we made it together.
Our journey to base camp very nearly didn’t happen. Flying to Lukla from Kathmandu airport was proving difficult at the start of our journey. First, a huge white cloud covered the runway forcing us to stay another night in Kathamndu. Our second attempt was met with rain clouds and thunder, again sending us back to the comfort of a king-size bed, softening the blow but I still longed for a cold tea house in the Himalayas. Our third visit to the airport proved successful, we ran to that plane and snapped the door shut all itching to land in Lukla. On route our fate changed once more, winds picked up and we diverted to a nearby runway. This runway was a short five-minute flight from Lukla but a 2-day walk, thankfully the wind died and we eventually touched down on that ever so scary, short runway.
The days following were filled with awe, laughter, some tears, cold evenings and blissfully sunny days. Our group, filled with legends made the journey enjoyable, every step of the way. Surrounded by mountains, forests, friends and endless Yak trains helped us get one step closer to our dream.
Everest had always been a dream of mine, a very silent dream but I knew in my lifetime I had to see this mountain. When I moved to New Zeland and my mountain passion was truly born it spurred me on to book this trip. We trained hard, we trained almost every day. We hiked, hill walked, trail walked and swam to train our lungs. I made sure I was at the peak of physical fitness, I needed to complete this hike.
I underestimated how mentally powerful this adventure would be. At times you could be walking for hours alone even in your group. To talk would be wasting energy in that thin mountain air so, powering through in silence was the only way. Every morning you hear tap, tap, tap on your bedroom door as you slowly defrosted your fingers and toes in the sleeping bag. Packing your Sherpa bag in the dark and emerging for breakfast sometimes felt like a little win. I will never, ever take a hot drink or log fire for granted again.
I remember walking somewhere between Thyangboche and Dingboche alone, with my head down. I was watching my feet take one step after the other on the trail below. I was readjusting my backpack and checking my phone for the time, wondering if we would make it to the monastery to see the monks in time, when a small human crossed my path, then another, then another. All carrying little woven baskets filled with supplies, all barefoot, all wearing baggy little fleeces. They jumped from rock to rock as if playing a game and just like that they disappeared on to a track above our well-trodden route. Their presence made me stop, look up and breathe. I was in their home, looking at their mountains, walking on their trail and I couldn’t be more grateful that they, their family and their country, let us be here.
When I say Everest Base camp was life-changing, I mean it. It will forever be the trip I refer to well, forever I suppose but when I think of my favorite adventure to date. I write and share so much about this trip but I never really seem to hit the nail on the head when trying to explain what it did for me. I don’t think any photograph or word I put down will truly depict what it was like to stand under those giants.
I found peace here, as soon as the wheels touched down in Lukla airport I felt like I had returned home. Trekking to Everest Base Camp changed my world. It changed the way I think, it changed my mindset and it connected me to nature on a level deeper than I ever thought it would. Finding my love for the mountains helped me find myself, it gave me time to grieve and carved out my path. I didn’t know how much this adventure of a lifetime would change my life but trust me, it did.
Thank You Nepal, thank you, Everest. I hope to see you again.