The clouds creep up the mountain valley enveloping our little teahouse in its grip and rubbing its fluffy belly along the tin roof causing it to creak and groan. These noises wake me in the mornings as we prepare to set off for Gorak Shep. Our path follows that of the river, retracing its footsteps upward and following the corridor it etched between the mountains. When it descends we rise and when it rises we descend. We leave its side to hike higher to Namche and Periche but always we follow it higher until its gurgles are transformed into ice and finally at Base Camp, into blue solid glacier.
This trip was one of the most incredible experiences of my life! We were literally hiking MACHINES! Well ok, I have a confession to make, I am a wee bit of a hiking Nazi,…and I sorta hauled poor Inge along behind. But in my defense the trekking itinerary had us only hiking 2-3hrs a day! OK sure sure its all up one huge mountain, but come on that’s totally sissy! So i did a lil makeover of the hiking itinerary plans and added on just a measly 5 or 6 or 7hrs of hiking each day…made sure we took our acclimatising days when we needed to and stayed within the 1000ft altitude…and wallah! We made it up in 5.5 days (*cough* usually it takes 10 days) and we hiked out in 2 days (it usually takes 5 days!). Again in my defense that 12hr hike from Gorak Shep to Namche was ALL Inge’s idea!! You know you’re doing good when Sherpas and guides are impressed with your speed.
I’m pretty sure we ate Nepal out of house and home, but dang do you get hungry when you’re going up a mountain! After 8hrs of plodding along we were ravenous by the time we hit Gorak Shep and everything and anything looked delicious! (Inge even started eyeballing the poor yaks along side the road and made “friends” with the Sherpa boy totting 15 laying hens in his basket. I’m not sure she could have eaten them all but it would have been fun to see her try!). I have never tasted a more delicious snack of peanut butter and honey pancake dunked in Garlic soup, lemme tell ya! What you don’t believe me?! It’s definitely one winning combination you’ve just gotta try!
The next day we hot the trail for Base Camp and lost it a few hours in under a huge rock avalanche and I couldn’t pick it back up for the life of me! I tried everything, brought out my measly tracking skills following the footsteps of the hikers from yesterday, I skidded to and fro on the rock covered glacier exploring every nook and cranny until I nearly took a nose dive into a big sink hole, I even followed the trail of yak poo with my nose up the ridge that outlined the path the pack animals had taken. Nothing. So after surveying the mountain enclosed valley and finding a ridge strung with a million prayer flags, we plopped ourselves down and declared this ground “Base Camp.” We munched on the Snickers bars that we had totted all the way up for just this jubilant moment, did victory dances, and photo shoots and swore to never breathe a word of our base camp confusion. We were relieved to discover later that we HAD found Base Camp (of sorts) and that due to the monsoon and rock avalanches the terrain had change significantly.
And so completes the story of how two goofy, camera totting twerps marched 70+ miles up a mountain with few showers and even fewer changes of clothes (haha) and how on one snowy July morning they found themselves hooting and hollering in triumph from a perch at the Top of the World!