“What day is it?” asked Pooh.
Why do we go to bed so late? How do you fill your hours?
Remember the days of lying on your back, as a kid, watching the clouds pass overhead and noting which ones looked like Simpsons characters and which ones looked like race cars or airplanes? When did we stop looking up? When did start teaching more analysis instead of creativity?
In Nepal, we went to bed around 8pm every night and woke up between 6am and 7am. We had breakfast - porridge, eggs and toast, or an occasional pancake, and a cup of hot tea. More than half of the time, we were successful at forcing down a liter of water, each, saving a couple sips for brushing our teeth. Meanwhile, we both filtered another two liters for the trail, repacked our bags (a daily task!), laced our boots and started walking.
We walked between five and eight hours a day, stopping in a village for a warm bowl of garlic soup and a hot cup of lemon tea, or perhaps just snacking on granola bars and apple pie - our favorite ration that we acquired, in both directions, passing through Namche Bazaar - and pushing onwards.
We traveled unplugged.
We listened to the birds singing and felt the wind find every slice of bare skin between mittens and coats, scarves and hats. We swallowed every breath of fresh air to overcome the toxic fumes of kerosene that saturated the kitchen and bled through each unsealed crack in the doors and windows. burning our lungs just as the wind stung our skin. Climbing higher, we gulped thin air in search of oxygen to ease the pressure in our heads and the swelling in limbs and joints and even in my face.
If I am flying an airplane, I am required to use oxygen if I spend more than 30 minutes at cabin pressure altitudes about 12,500 ft (3810 m), and at all times above 14,000 ft (4267 m). We spent five nights above 14,100 ft (4300 m). Even in the moments we stood still, in awe, our bodies remained in motion, internally, adapting and acclimatizing.
We heard each breath and felt each heartbeat. We climbed to a cadence rather than a melody, tuning in to our thoughts and feelings and to each other
We are so small. We were reminded of this every day by looking up. Four of the 14 peeks over 8000 meters are in the Everest region.
We have nothing to complain about. Trekking prodded us to give more thanks for all - the obvious, such as family and friends and love - and the little things, the details, the formerly expected that will no longer be taken for granted - potable water at the turn of a faucet, daily hot water to bathe, paved streets, reliable refrigeration, conditioned air and central heating, washing machines, ventilation fans in the kitchen, window insulation, recycling, emissions standards, government services, cheap and fixed prices for toilet paper and soap.
On 5 March, we commented about how we had not yet showered that month. No one in the room had. We bathed in baby wipes, dried with baby powder, and wasted not a drop of water between hydration and teeth brushing.
We tasted kindness, in the form of hearty second helpings of dal baht, the most typical and fulfilling meal of the land, and gifts of sherpa cookies, leftover from a recent festival.
Every evening, from around 4 or 5pm until bedtime, we huddled around the stove, thawing our fingers and drying our socks, once even burning a sock to the stove (the things that happen when your love tries to be kind while you go to the bathroom!). We read books, without distractions. And we talked. We learned about local birds from the Belgians and talked airplanes with the Australians. With the Germans, we discussed nationalism. We took turns with the group from Singapore in asking questions of their guide, Lal, about his two trips to the summit of Mount Everest, without oxygen. We cut a bar of Spanish Turrón (traditional almond candy) into enough pieces to feed the dining room, and bid many thanks for offerings of homeopathic altitude pills and hand warmers after the mountain had its way
We played leap frog with our new friends the whole way down the mountain. Though we may never see them again, the invitations are open. Should anyone arrive in the other's hometown, our shared experience on the mountain will feel like yesterday and we'll pick up where we left off, listening to new stories of the adventures had in-between.
Many more people were coming up the mountain, as we trotted down. "You can do it. It's worth it," we would tell them, as we slowed to pass each other with care amidst the loose rocks tumbling underfoot.
The following was our actual itinerary in the mountains. We arrived 24 February in Kathmandu and departed 26 February for Lukla. At the end of our trip, we departed Kathmandu on the same day we arrived from Lukla. This was only possible because of our ability to fly standby/space-available and we would not recommend it to confirmed passengers due to the unpredictable weather leaving Lukla. Many of those who became ill on the mountains could attribute their discomfort, pain, or sickness to the pressure of an imminent return flight and thus ascending too fast. Above 3000 m, it is not recommended to ascend/sleep more than 300-500 m per day. For more details on where we stayed and how to prepare, contact us. We encourage any general questions in the comments and we will gladly follow-up with a FAQ post.
My hero. Infinite thanks to Angel for carrying my bags for an entire day downhill from Gorak Shep to Pheriche.
Christine & Angel
Aisle or window
He likes the window; she likes the aisle. Match made at FL350. Here are some other travel preferences. Full disclaimer: These are affiliate links, meaning the authors are rewarded for referrals (usually in the form of a credit to use more of the product/service themselves). Pinky promise: Recommendations are simply the best.
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