October 19 to November 7, 2022
Last October my daughters Kirsten and Stacy, and I started our journey to Nepal. It took forty hours of travel time to reach Kathmandu where we began our adventure to Mount Everest Base Camp.
We flew to the village of Lukla where we began our journey along the Lukla Everest Base Camp Trekking Route in the Sagarmatha National Park. This is the only trail to the base camp, and it is used by everyone traveling there, including trekkers and climbers, porters, horses, mules, dzos, and as we got higher, yaks. It is the route used to bring all supplies to the villages. Any food, merchandise, fuel, building materials and more are all carried along the trail by foot. There are no motorized vehicles beyond Lukla.
The three of us carried our daypacks and were assisted by two porters, Pasang and Tilak, and our guide, Kiron. The day treks varied from five to eight to ten hours, and the trail was always up and down – we joked about Nepali flat-not. We stayed overnight in lodges in the villages along the trail. Our rooms had a platform or two, with a pad to sleep on, and fortunately, a quilt. The dining halls would have a pot-bellied stove that burned for an hour or two at dinner, and we would gather around to warm ourselves.
Temperatures dropped as we climbed in elevation, often into the twenties at night. We were able to purchase a bottle of hot water to place in our sleeping bags for 300 rupees, about two dollars. It felt so good. We were fortunate that each of the lodges that we stayed in had at least one toilet seat, otherwise there were only holes in the floor. In the morning we would often have to break through the ice layer in the barrel to get water to flush the toilet, and would be sure to bring our own toilet paper. Breakfast was often oatmeal with apples, a hardboiled egg and tea. Lunch and dinner were local fare with mainly rice, noodles, and tea. We quit eating meat after I realized it had to be packed out from Lukla on the same trail we were on, and this could take a few days.
I was the weak link in our group, and our guide paid close attention to my breathing. He would call for “two minutes” when he felt I needed it. The trail is rocky and mostly vertical, so care was often needed to determine where to place the next footstep. There were six or seven swinging bridges that spanned the deep valleys. We would occasionally have to wait for a team of pack animals to cross, since they had the right of way. We also had to be sure to step to the uphill side as they passed, or they could possibly push us over the edge of the trail. Our guide, Kiron, was very attentive to our status. A couple of the days on the way out were designated “rest” days where we stayed in the same village a second night. We used the extra day to climb up and back down to help with acclimatizing – not restful.
Above 3000 meters Kiron had us use some Diamox, but minimally. We had days that were above 4000 meters and one day above 5000. Breathing was labored, and sometimes I took one breath per step. At least once a day we all felt like, “I am done; I can go no further,” and then look down at our feet and take another step.
People ask, “Was it fun?” and the answer is no. It was by far the hardest thing each of us had ever done, but it was so worth the hardship. The people we met were so happy with so little, I did not hear a word of anger in the time we spent in Nepal. The opportunity to spend time in a very different world than ours was fantastic and the scenery was spectacular. The weather was cold at times, but the sky was brilliantly clear each day. We were on the trail for twelve days and reached Base Camp on the eighth.
I feel fortunate to have been able to spend three weeks with my daughters in a difficult and trying adventure. I am so proud of them. I was told by some friends who had been there that it would be a life-changing experience, and it has been. It is not possible to talk of it without becoming emotional. I do not want to go back, but I do not need to. I am so blessed and grateful to have had the opportunity. I would encourage anyone who has the same dream to follow it, but do it younger. Do not wait too long. I was one of the oldest on the trail but so appreciative to be there.
Tim L., Minnesota, USA
Everest Base Camp Lodge Trek