I forgot the wonders of a hiking group. People to make you laugh when you’re down and push you to keep going when it’s tough and you fall behind and you’re so tired and have no energy left in your muscles.
Enter Ollie (Nz), Kelsey and Ashley (USA) and there guide Mingmar. We met in the guesthouse and decided to hike together much to the disappointment of their guide.
I would say usually a guide wouldn’t want random trekkers clinging on to his group, but especially when those random trekkers are super sick and may need to get saved at some point.
Today was the day of Mordor. We began trekking through a new zealand-esue landscape, but eventually we made it above the tree line into a barren, cold, beautiful wasteland. Falling rocks, evidence of landslides littering the landscape.
The altitude was kicking in, luckily it was a slow steady incline for most of the day, nothing too drastic. But every ascent left me breathless. Followed by yet another coughing fit and another and another.
The others were fit and healthy AND they had a porter. I looked in jealousy at there tiny backpacks and there long legs speeding off into the distance.
I had to come to terms with the fact that I was the slow one. Not because I kept stopping to take photos (like on the Annapurna) but because my body wouldn’t let me go any faster.
Anyone that knows me, knows this would kill me inside. I’m highly competitive and grew up wanting to prove that I can do anything a boy, or a larger human can do. I am never the slow one.
As I was plodding along, slowly falling further behind, I spotted a sharp incline. ‘Oh shit’ my lungs whimpered.
But just as I felt my mood drop I spotted a familiar face waiting at the bottom of the incline. Ol’ mate bobby hot shakes. You may remember him from such hikes as the Annapurna Circuit.
He’d started the hike 2 days before me but he decided he wanted his old hiking buddy back and he waited around for me (plus he’d needed an extra rest day for acclimatisation)
Elated, I basically ran down and ascended, not so much with ease, but definitely with less pain than first anticipated.
We arrived in town at the same time as a cloud. So much hiking, so much pain and I’d hardly seen any snowy peaks.
It hit 9pm, my eyes were burning with tiredness, my body ached. I climbed into bed expecting to fall straight asleep but the altitude had different ideas.
I tossed and turned, coughing constantly until 5am when I finally managed to fall asleep. The whole time questioning every aspect of my life and travels. Wondering if I am in fact the strong lass I always thought I was. Will I make it up to base camp? I’ve hardly taken any photos on this hike, am I even a good photographer? Should I just quit and go home where mum will look after me and get me healthy?
I woke up at 9am to a blue sky, unexpectedly sweating in bed (we’re well over 4400m here). Not ideal due to the fact I won’t be showering or washing my clothes up here. (Yes boys, I am single ;) )
My filthy hair is matted over my face adding to the incredibly attractive picture I have obviously created. I feel like a truck has ran over my face but I finally have a view of snowy peaks outside my window!
I woke up at 5am but breakfast wasn’t until 7am so I stayed snuggled up. 12 hours in bed. Believe me, it’s not all hardcore hiking. My throat aches, the cold I’d felt coming on yesterday is well and truly here. My muscles ache more than I expected.The beginning of the day was easy enough, I hit a crossroads and ascended up the better trodden path. But as I climbed higher and higher not running into any other trekkers I began to wonder if I’d taken the wrong path. I had to ascend 700m today. I didn’t want to walk up, make a mistake and then have to do it all over again. Right when I was ready to turn back and find someone to ask for directions an Australian and english lad walked past and assured me I was on the right track. The english lad stressed to me “Go slow! Go super slow!” He was suffering altitude sickness, he’d ascended too fast, his heart was racing and it felt like his brain was pressing into his left eye. He’d been feeling terrible for days but was used to the pain. He’d wanted to evacuate but he’d made a mistake with his insurance and was instead self evacuating. (Don’t worry, my insurance covered me. Thankfully as I almost used it…keep reading to find out WHY!) I assured him i’d take my time and I took a step. “TOO FAST” They both yelled, making me jump. We all had a hearty laugh and then I went on my merry way. I would have enjoyed trekking with them I thought to myself as I continued alone. The blogs and fellow hikers all told me the hike to Naamche was one of the worst parts of the trek. (I agree based on the dust and the sheer amount of yak pee you have to step over…it STINKS worse than any stench you could imagine) Yet another steep ascent. My guesthouse told me it would take 3 - 4 hours to get up. Luckily I was quite aware I was hiking up a steep mountain and was expecting some horrific ascents, so this didn’t come as too much of a shock. What did shock me was that I discovered i’d hiked up in 2.5 hours. The whole way up i’d been berating myself. You’ve hiked annapurna Lou, you should be faster than this! Turns out I was.
Note: The best way to train for a hike up Everest is to hike another, equally high and difficult himalayan Mountain. I recommend the Annapurna circuit. Note: At 3400m and i’m not feeling the altitude or the cold too drastically. So different to Manang in Annapurna. Revised note: Ignore what I wrote earlier. I feel like I’m dying. Yet another note: STOP EATING YOUR DATES!
Acclimatisation day in Naamche. Oh what torture. Last night I fell asleep thinking ‘i’m going to be strong enough to stay up all night at base camp and get an epic time-lapse. I’m so strong and capable. How exciting.’ The new day dawned and instantly quashed that ridiculous notion. I felt horrific. Blocked nose, my coughing my throat raw, so hard I almost vomitted (will i ever stop posting about the disgustingness of my body online? Probably not.) Still telling myself I’m a strong capable woman, I got up and was going to attempt a 3 hour acclimatisation hike. After breakfast I got back in to bed. “Just for a moment, just a quick nap to re-energise” 30 minutes later I stood up and got into my hiking gear, finished tying my shoes. Stood up. Sat back down, took my shoes off. Paused, berating myself. Put them back on. Took them off, finally admitted defeat and jumped back into bed where I proceeded to stay for the rest of the day. Feeling incredibly sorry for myself, I spent the entire day wondering if i’d make it up to base camp. Weakling! Failure! The usual negative self talk.
I knew it was just my tired, sick brain that was in dire need of a hug and chose to ignore it. Just as I reached the height of my tirade I looked out the window and noticed the clouds had disappeared and I had a clear view of the worlds giant peaks just across the valley. So close I felt like if I leaned out of the window I could touch them. I aired out my sick room and the crisp mountain air worked it’s magic, taking away the feelings of despair i’d been laying with all day.