“The mountains are calling and I must go.” – John Muir
When a mountains calls, all one needs to do is stuff her backpack and leave to sleep into the lap of the mother nature. I have been to a few other treks and have always felt that mountains will never leave you satisfied. Like if they have not loved you enough, they will keep calling you for more, and you will always figure out your next mountain trip even before you complete the current one. Generally I like to write about my personal experiences after I finish my treks, but I will try to keep myself out this time as much as possible. Reason! First, it is The Everest(okay SBC/EBC, but still !!!), no amount of writing would ever be enough, second, believe me it never sent me any mother nature vibes, and if anything it would send in your direction was all Father nature vibes and third there are lots of stuff already written and my experience would not that be different. Where at other mountains you will feel that mountains are trying to love you back, here is the Everest, nothing like any other, as if trying to teach you hundreds of lessons.
After a day sight seeing in Kathmandu, it felt like any other neighboring Indian state. A day trip covered with Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, Guhyeshwari Temple, Boudhanath, Patan Darbar Square was enough to be in awe of its wonderful architecture and crafts. Its people also seemed peaceful and friendly. Things didn’t seem cheaper as we had hoped considering the Indian rupee weigh higher compared to Nepali rupee
Next day we flew to the Lukla Airport from where the SBC/EBC trek starts. Fortunately weather favored us and could reach there on time. A few meter walk after the The Pasang Lhamu memorial gate, you will find trekkers ascending, descending, observing, loosing and discovering themselves into the mountains. Four legged furry mountaineers apart from keeping you company will entertain you along the trails in exchange of little petting. Whenever withing reach, never miss an opportunity to spin Mani (prayer) wheels, which are engraved with mantra “Om Ma Ni Pad Me Hum” meaning “The jewel is in the lotus”. I was literally trying to consume a lot of positive energy from each twirl.
Trekking is where the ground under your feet keeps changing every now and then, and so is how you walk the trail. At one point you’re walking freely like Phoebe, in the next you’re crossing the suspension bridge in captain Jack sparrow style. This route was filled up with everything the mother nature could offer you. Hills and valley covered with trees. In the distance one can clearly hear the hard rock playlist by Dudh Koshi river. Soil and stones polite enough to let you walk over them and importantly the clean air making you proud of yourself for choosing this trek.
Honestly memorizing the names of the towns I passed thorough or stayed in during the trek was not easy. The same issue happened with the name of the mountain peaks I was surrounded with. But then there was this one mountain called Ama Dablam, constantly flaunting its magnificent beauty, and playing hide and seek through out the trek. It made a fool out of me at times, where I would always fell for it being a new peak and it was like Hey! It’s me, again!!!
Just like our lives, this route had so many Ups and Downs. The analogy here fits so well that you will end up wondering how up or down you can actually go! Each up had another up, and each down had something more going downwards. It was like ascending or descending into open but spherical tunnels. There were some flat routes as well, but now it was less soil and more stones which were refusing to give you a cake walk, and at times I felt like a mindless and directionless white walker.
In my very first trek we were taught to keep walking and take very short breaks if needed. I follow this rule each time for so many reasons. It allows me to walk with my natural pace, get less tired, click less, observe more, and walk silently in the nature. As Jiddu said, “To live is to Die every moment”, and I wanted to let everything I was witnessing die the moment I left it behind. But this philosophy earned me the title of “Rukega nahi, Jhukega nahi” within my trekking group as many times I reached the destination spots early, and my yellow jacket ended up being the marker for fellow trekkers along the route 😀
Lobuche, was the first place where I got a first dose of mountain sickness. I had not taken Diamox. The little headache got cured with paracetamol but that didn’t serve me long. The clouded environment was increasing my newly developed claustrophobia. I missed most signals which was gradually taking over my body like lack of sleep, lack of appetite, dry nose and body swelling. Among all the shortness of breath was giving me the hardest time. I remember waking up in the middle of the night with no single ray of light, and getting panicked. Whole night I kept staring at my head light and prayed God to let the night pass as early as possible. Trekking will give you all the feelings like of a war field, where a soldier despite being injured would dress up and show up with his/her sword. So you just get your walking stick and start a fresh to climb some more ups wishing walking and climbing will make you feel more better.
When I told you that Sagarmatha/Everest never gave me mother nature vibe and it was all father nature, I mean it literaly was the case. It was not just the mountain sickness I was getting trapped into. The more I was trying to get closer to it, it seemed to trying too hard to keep me away. I had no difficulty in walking, but if I covered myself hard it was becoming harder to breathe from layers. If I kept jacket open, the weather was making it harder to survive its cold winds. As if it was trying and waiting for you to make a mistake and then grab you from the collar to send you back home. We all fantasize the mountains when covered in white snow or green trees. Like Instagram it portrays the perfect life picture. But as you go closer, you will find that the beneath that lovey dovey exterior lies the rocks which have stood up and experienced the hardships of weather for centuries alone. Like introverts they pass so much time alone that entering into their territory sometimes feel like invading into their personal space. Stones under my feet were becoming less friendly along the route, but in front of you stand these big rocks which thousands of people from all around the world try to conquer each year, hundreds of them had given their lives while trying to summit them, thousands of people make a living out of them and millions of people still romanticize them from the screen of their devices. How come one think of anything else but the next step and a deep breath! So I allowed myself it go as slow as my body wanted and take as many deep breath it felt needed to feel alive.
In the end at the top of the Sagarmatha/Everest Base camp, I never felt of conquring anything even after getting myself clicked with that attitude. It was may be the surrender to its energy, understanding it is more than a piece of hill, why more and more people go crazy about it every year and why it keeps calling you again.
To the souls, who despite being strangers, end up sharing a memorable experience of their lifetime. To the mountains, for letting us hungry souls feel on top of the world for whatever little time it feels okay with…