From the moment we woke up, we were rushing. Frantically packing our bags trying to ensure everything vital was where it needed to be. We ran on to the streets to be met by whizzing traffic and dust storms filled with rubbish. Our driver picked us up and drove us to the airport, the sun had started to rise, shining light on to the hectic city of Katmandu.
We arrived to more chaos at the airport. People everywhere, everyone in a rush yelling in Nepalese, security gates screaming. It was at this point that I realized I had a knife in my bag. I turned to Iswari who was our man in Katmandu, and asked him what I should do. Iswari told me to give him the knife, I saw him slide it into his pocket as he walked past the security gates. I was beckoned through, the scanners stayed quiet and Iswari gave me my knife on the other side. A bit different to the security at LAX!
We pushed our way through the hoards of people, heading to the runway. We were ushered into a ute and driven to the heli pad. The chopper was taking us from Katmandu to Lukla and I was so excited so get into the sky. While we were loading up it became apparent we had too much gear, we were way over our weight limit and had to get loaded into a plane to meet us in Lukla
After the pre-flight checks were done and everything loaded up, we were off! As we took off I remember looking at the pile of bags we were leaving behind being bundled into the back of an old truck, I thought to myself, “I really hope they get on that plane”.
The helicopter took us over the city, the houses and streets looking like a little board game as we gained altitude. We flew over fields and gardens and then came the mountains. Rising from the ground they thrusted up into the sky, mountains upon mountains, their size too big for me to comprehend. I was utterly amazed by the scene that surrounded me. It truly was what my dreams were made of.
The feeling of being in the mountains is like no other.
In New Zealand, you get that wonderful feeling when you get into the sub alpine terrain, then you get a total rush when you are in alpine conditions at the top of a snowy peak.
In the Himalayas you are overwhelmed by the presence of the mountains, you can feel them bearing down on you, engulfing you in this other worldly sensation. It was truly an honour to be there in such an immense and beautiful environment.
We touched down in Lukla and may our way to the nearest teahouse. We gathered our gear and realised the donated supplies were missing! Our guide Nawang sherpa told us ‘not to worry” and that his brother Kusang could collect it when it did finally arrive, and bring it to where we were staying for the night. That boy ran 70kms that day, carrying 20kgs of gear.
Stress levels in our camp were through the roof, not me however, I was cool as a cucumber, while others were worried about undies, sleeping bags and teddy bears.
My body was slowly loosing a battle fighting an infection and i was feeling very low on energy. I wasn’t quite ready to acknowledge that I was getting sick and keep putting it down to the altitude.
We passed family homes and villages. We were walking past a little home that had two young girls outside. One girl, about 9 years old, had a little ratty teddy bear. She was gently washing it in a bowl of water, stroking its worn ears and trying to get in clean. There was a younger girl, about 6, watching her sisters every move.I walked up to the little girls, just to say hello. They waved and smiled and were so friendly and happy. I gave them a little horse each, I carried these to give to children a long the way. Their faces erupted with excitement when they got their new toy. They scurried off in the dirt clutching their presents to their chests, squealing and giggling.
We had an early night because our next day was “big up day” and we would need to rest a lot more than usual as we were gaining altitude.
I ordered cheese and potato momos for dinner.
Before I left New Zealand I had been out to dinner with my partner to a Nepalese restaurant, and we had fallen in love with momos! They are the Nepalese version of a dumpling, they taste very different to a cantonese dumpling because of the filling and the different spices the Nepalese use. Little did I know I would be out momoed a few days later as it was the main source of food in the mountains.
I woke on “big up day” feeling terrible. My body had been fighting a chest infection since I arrived in Nepal (THANKS FOR THAT LISA) and it had finally surrendered. I was relying on the fact that I am already very fit and strong to get me through the day. Turns out it doesn’t matter how fit you are or strong you are, altitude can effect anyone. So, you could be an acknowledged explorer that prides themselves on their endurance, and get passed on the mountain by a 14-year-old, it’s just the luck of the draw (Jack was cruising it up the hill without even breaking a sweat and it really pissed me off ).
High-up on the mountain track my chest was screaming, my lungs had had enough and my legs felt like they were stuck in a sea of molasses. It was an interesting experience for me as i am not used to being fatigued that easily. I looked back at Rob who had trained for Nepal by thinning his blood with wine so he had more room for oxygen or something… He didn’t look like he was having a good time at this stage. At this point I was towing Lisa and had attached a hiking poll between me and jack so we were both pulling Lisa up the hill.
We reached the tea house at the top of the hill. There was a beautiful sunset and the promise of food and bed inside. I was told there was a look out to see Mount Everest just 10 minutes from here. It would have to wait until the morning, I was already deciding what to eat.
I had dal bart for dinner and started a vigorous ginger tea routine to kick my cold to the curb…..
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