I woke up this morning to the alpenglow over the Himalayas. Aside from the s#!% weather, freezing toes, and my guide, I really will miss this place. It’s absolutely magical! Today I made the trek to Namche for a celebratory night in town.
The first half of the trail down to Namche, I simply ran. It saved my knees, but oh my, were my legs tingling when I finally stopped for a tea break. The run down (not stopping) and with a pack on felt like one of those intense cycling classes when your legs are burning and you are questioning what in the world made it a good idea to put yourself through that. But, it hurt so good, you know?
It was cleansing as well. So many thoughts were flying through my head as I hiked and ran. The moment of the day, however, came with the yak race. I was really tired of being stuck behind yaks on these downhills because they were moving VERY slow. So, as the trail began to taper down to one lane as we hiked next to a pak of yaks, my guide said softly, “Go Jessy, we can make it!”
That was all the inspiration I needed! We speed walked past the majority of the herd then broke out in to a sprint at the first opening. I darted by first, sprinting along the cliffside trail a mere 6 inches from the yaks, narrowly cutting them off as we all ran down the trail laughing. Sketchy? …Yes. Worth the adventure and laughs? …YES.
At my stop for lunch, the 10 days of no sweets, no real food, and no showers were sinking in a bit further. Yes, you can buy a snickers bar in many of the little towns, but I stood my ground against paying $4-5 for candy during the entire trek. I also didn’t pay for any charging on my gear or wifi. It was the best decision I possibly could have made! However, I was starting to crave different foods and so my entire journal entry for the middle half of the day was a list of foods I wanted to eat right then…
Things I want to eat right now: (A poem by a starving trekker)
Chocolate Cake Big Ass Burrito
In-N-Out Burger Steak
Dad’s French Toast Shell white cheddar noodles
Wit food in my heart and on my mind, I set off for the last of the hike to Namche. The “5” hours my guide claimed it would take took 3.5 including the tea break I stopped for to journal. Throughout the days, I once again hiked solo while my guide paused to smoke and casually hiked far back with his friends. When I arrived in Namche, I sat on the trail and waited for him so that I could figure out where we were supposed to go. I was really sad to be ending the trek extra convinced not to ever pay for a guide out here again. The reason I payed for a guide at all was to learn more about the region and have some camaraderie throughout the trek, but rather I got a solo trek and a stack of frustrations. Ahh, but it’s character building (I tell myself) and so I took him out for beers and Snooker as a thank you for the trek.
I woke up early, looking forward to the final day of hiking and a flight back to Kathmandu. As sad as I was to leave this beautiful region, I was ready to leave for a little while and come back with a different approach. It was a long trek of beauty but also being manipulated and taken advantage of in areas that I should have been covered for. During the last trek of the day, I hiked almost the entire length by myself again. 18 kilometers of rivers and sunshine, birds singing and little deer roaming the woods, and almost no crowds because I started early. It was exactly how I wanted my hike out to be.
As I rolled in to my last hotel, my guide informed me that I had to pay for all the remaining meals and also the porters. I had no problem buying the porter dinner, as it was planned, but I had also already paid for all my meals through my flight to Kathmandu. He argued and insisted, and I gave him money for the meals, but also made a note to talk with the guide company about their methods. This trek alone, after having prepaid for all of my meals and stay, I still had to spend an additional $200+ dollars of stuff that my guide claimed “must” be paid for. I was wary of the entire situation, but chose to speak with the company owner about it all rather than the guide.
What a trek. What a day.
I flew back to Kathmandu from Lukla on a seriously turbulent flight. The Kathmandu airport is legendary for how dangerous it can be and this was no exception. For a smoother flight AND better views, always get on the earliest flight possible. As my dear friend Doris and I left on the 9 am flight at 11 am, we barely made it out on the last flight of the day. All of the remaining flights were cancelled due to weather.
After the trek
I don’t like to end situations that end negatively on a negative note. It’s so beautiful out here, the people are so kind, and it truly is the experience of a lifetime. I tipped my guide, I tipped the porter, and I made sure I did all of the things that I was expected to do, buying beers and dinners and such for the guys. However, I did fly back to Kathmandu and have a meeting with the owner about everything that occurred.
As it turns out, I was right when I felt like I was being manipulated in certain aspects of the trek. Most of them I didn’t list in any of these posts simply because that’s not what I want to write about. I do want to write about the fact, however, that the company I worked with was incredible. We talked about everything that occurred and he took complete ownership and responsibility, saying that while he wasn’t the guide, it was his company. We had camaraderie, a friendship, and met three times for tea to discuss everything and sort out a solution. So, leaving the trek, I left with an incredible amount of respect for the company and how he built it.
On that note, that’s the end of my thoughts on the Everest Base Camp Trek. Folks, the Himalayas are a unique, beautiful, and also dangerous place. However, I only left with a sliver of what I want to trek and see in the area, and I look forward to the day I set foot in Nepal again. More posts on Kathmandu will come shortly (or in a month, haha)!
Here’s my favorite shot of the trek to end this beautiful journey on…
From somewhere new,