A Journey to the Base of Everest

After crossing the frozen river last year, my big plan for this year was to climb till the base of Everest. I started on that dream on the 6th of May 2019. We had reached Kathmandu 2 days back and we toured the city a little before starting our Everest journey. Kathmandu never felt like a foreign land. The food there is very similar to Indian food, the roads and buildings look similar, the language is pretty understandable and even the music seems familiar. A jam-packed, crowded small city...with a lot of beautiful monasteries, palaces, and temples worth visiting.

On 6th May, we started our ride from Kathmandu to Manthali airport at around 2am. The ride was 3 hours long. Manthali was the weirdest airport I had ever witnessed. It was a very tiny airport whose check-in counter looked more like an old warehouse. Well, due to unstable weather condition, our flight to Lukla was delayed by a couple of hours. With no proper sitting arrangements, the passengers were literally sitting on the dusty floor of the airport space, under the sun (there was no cover as well...told you, weirdest airport ever). Finally, when the flight services got started again, we boarded a 12 seater tiny aircraft and flew for 20 minutes to reach Lulka. The 20 minutes ride made the hours of waiting all worth it. The scenic beauty of this ride was breathtaking. During this ride, I realized what heaven I was heading towards, over the next few days of my trip. After lunch at Lukla, we started walking towards Phakding, our first halt of the Everest trek.

The walk from Lukla to Phakding was our first exposure to the natural beauties of this Himalayan trails. The rocky mountains, gushing streams of the river, hanging bridges, beautiful lush green trees...every sight was worth capturing in our memories forever. This was also the easiest of our trekking days.

After reaching Phakding, we also came across some other realities that became a part of our trekking experience. Our accommodation here (and all accommodation onwards from here) had shared toilets across floors and common shower rooms which were a paid service. No toilet papers were available and the cost of drinking water kept increasing with altitude.

The next day, we trekked from Phakding to Namche Bazar, which is situated at an altitude of 3,441 meters. From Phakding, till we crossed the Hillary bridge, the trail is pretty easy. Its only on the other side of the bridge that the real trekking experience starts with all uphill climb. This was a definite tough day. The trail was tougher and we had started to feel the hit of the thin air at the higher altitude.

After the tough trekking day, our next day was kept for resting and acclimatization at Namche Bazar. This was possibly one of the most peaceful days of our journey. We climbed till a table top to get the first glimpse of Everest early in the morning, went to the local helipad and did relax there for a while, roamed around the settlement for the rest of the day. I found a few favorite spots at this place where I could sit alone for some time, listen to music, let my thoughts gather and be at peace with myself.

For the next few days, we kept climbing altitude. From Namche Bazar to Tengboche (at an altitude of 3,860 meters) next to Dingboche (at an altitude of 4,350 meters) to Lobuche (at an altitude of 4,910 meters and finally to Gorak Shep (at an altitude of 5,180 meters). With each climb, the terrains got tougher and tougher. The thin air made it difficult to breathe. The biting cold made it tough for us to get a good sleep at night. There was a definite loss of appetite and slowly each member of the group started being hit by some form of altitude sickness. There were moments during our travel when taking even another step seemed impossible...moments where I thought I needed to give up and take a chopper back to Kathmandu...moments where all the struggles felt pointless. But, at the end of each day, the sense of achievement, being able to survive another day and getting a step closer to our dream of Everest is what kept us going!

Finally, on D-Day, we did a climb after lunch from Gorak Shep to Everest Base Camp (at an altitude of 5,365 meters). We had already trekked for around 5 hours that day and our bodies were getting more and more tired. The energy was disappearing faster than we could think. When we were about 30 minutes away from base camp, it started snowing. The drops of ice felt on our weak body like some form of medicine. Each drop of ice as if healed a little of my pain. I couldn't conceal the happiness in my heart. I could probably not have asked for anything more at this moment. When I was at the prime moments of my happiness, I got the first glimpse of the Everest Base Camp. The first glimpse of my dream coming to reality. My body was not tired anymore. There was no pain whatsoever. I almost raced to the base camp. When an hour passed at this place, I don't know. But this was undoubtedly one of the most beautiful moments of my life!

The descent from base camp back to Lukla is no easy game either. Over the next three days, we were like a bunch of spiritless bodies, dragging ourselves back to an altitude which was easier to survive on. After around 8 days of continuous trekking, we were physically exhausted. The altitude had done sufficient damage to us as well. And the aim for reaching somewhere was also over...now that we had already achieved what we had all come out for. The same scenic beauty seemed less pleasing and less interesting. The rate of taking photographs decreased and the only aim became reaching a warmer place which could offer was a little more oxygen to breathe in!

The trek to the Everest base camp is a killer journey. It totally breaks you (both physically and emotionally), tears you apart and molds you back into a better version of yourself. I had laughed some of my loudest laughter in these mountains, have cried a few silent tears, had my greatest birthday celebration ever...at an altitude of 4,200 meters, faced some of my big fears and today, looking back at all of these emotions, I feel achieved...I feel victorious and I am sure I am a better version of what I had been 15 days back!

[Some moments that camera could capture from this trip can be found on my Instagram]


We all deserve our version of a fairy tale love story...

Posted by Priyanka Nag on 10:24 AM in , , ,
When I reached the base camp, I was tired after an entire day's long journey. It was a long trip from Pune to Nainital. But this was just the beginning. We were about to start the 8-day long trekking trip from the next morning. I just had the evening to unwind and get myself recharged. I took a quick shower and ran to the kitchen to get some coffee. That's when I first saw him. The poised and composed man...sitting on a rock a few feets away from the kitchen, sipping coffee. He wasn't exceptionally handsome or attractive. But there was definitely something charismatic about him. I poured myself a cup of coffee and walked up to him. This time I got a better glance at this man. He was tall...probably 6ft. From the look of it, I would guess he was in his early thirties. He had a weird calmness on his face...as if he had no worries of the world at all. His eyes sparkled with life. "Hi! I am Priyanka", I said, "Do you mind if I join you?" He smiled, told me his name and moved to one side of the rock to make some space for me. I sat down and the conversation started.

Over the course of the next 8 days, this stranger became my friend. From stories of our life to leaders of this country, from weird movies to strange mythologies...we had spoken about almost anything and everything in these 8 days. I don't know if it was the magic in the wild air of Nainital or something about this man I had recently befriended, I could totally hear violins in the air and feel those flower petals over me! This was the closest to love I had ever felt. Gosh! Can we really fall in love with someone in just 8 days? Naah! It totally was the weather, the freedom of being there and the exhaustion of an 8-day long trek.

At the end of 8 days, we were back at our base camp. I had to travel back to Delhi the next morning and fly back to Pune. Well, it was time to end this vacation romance. This was an amazing trip. My first ever solo trip! I never felt stronger...or achieved before. But, amidst all these happy feelings, there was a slight pinch of sorrow. The pain of needing to go away from this no-longer-stranger guy whom I had definitely started crushing on! 

I was packing my bags..lost in thoughts...when I head a light knock at my door. "Wanna go for a walk?" he asked, standing at my door. "Sure", I answered...with a smile. This would probably be the last time we would walk these roads together. We had walked a few miles already and I was starting to get tired. That's when we decided to stop at a table-top for a break. The sun was about to set. From the table-top, all our eyes could see was a lush green apple orchard and the last glimpse of the sun at the horizon. Slight wind in my open and messy hair...and my prince charming by my side. 

I was already living a fairy tale when he suddenly came towards me and said, "before we part ways, can I get a hug?" I blushed red! Probably my eyes said it all....and he came closer to me. I melted in his arms. This was the first time I understood what the phrase 'swept off my feet' actually meant. I could hardly breathe. 

At that moment, I realized that we all do deserve our version of a fairy-tale love story and this was mine! Those 20 seconds were probably one of the best moments of my life. 

Next morning, he was gone before I woke up. I left the camp with a small drop of tear and a bag full of beautiful memories! 

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