Sunday, April 29, 2018

EBC - The Descent

What took 8 days to climb took 4 days to descend.  Not because it was all downhill, it wasn’t. Not because it was easy, it wasn't. It was with each step and each hour we eventually were going down hill and downhill brought us much needed and glorious oxygen. Inflamed joints and swollen hands subsided, heavy breathing eased, legs felt lighter and steps were a bit quicker. We had achieved our goal but now had a new goal, Lukla and cold beer.

There were some interesting stops along the way. At the Dreams Hotel, the stop before our return to Namche, the owner had been one of the lead Sherpas on a French Expedition to the Everest summit in 2003. It was beyond exciting to meet this humble and kind Tea House owner who 15 years previous had scaled Everest. He was quick with a smile and a strong hand shake and patient for all the pictures we wanted to take.

After dinner he sat with us patiently answered questions and recalling stories of his Everest expedition and other Himalayan adventures. Not all were glorious and he spoke of watching friends die on the mountains and being helpless to assist them which gave him an an air of sadness. He had scaled the highest mountain in the world but he had also seen the price others paid when they failed. He also looked me dead in the eye and told me he could "train me and take me to the top of Everest but we would need many hard treks before that". I gulped and only felt fear and Everest roared.

Arriving in Pheriche after a long cold walk through a windy valley we discovered that there was a medical clinic. It that was managed by 3 volunteer British Doctors who came to Nepal on a 4 month cycle. The doctor gave us a great seminar on altitude sickness, what to look for and how to treat the symptoms. We were on our way down so it was a great reassurance that all the things we endured were normal and thanks to our experienced guide we dealt with  them properly.
**If you chose to hike EBC without a group or a guide, educate yourself on Altitude sickness and the two main types brain and lung.  It could save your life.

Along our descended we re-entered the pine forests that brought a great fragrance and a calming feeling. Steep cliffs and rushing blue glacier rivers surrounded by these great green forests signaled we were doing great. The air became clean and clear. Breathing returned to almost normal and that increased our laughter and attitude. The lower the altitude the higher the attitude.

Reaching and walking..well running through the Lukla gate brought everyone sheer joy. A different joy from the base camp as this was more  an exhausted relief. It was over except for one more very scary plane ride to Kathmandu

First through the gate was Dominic. Myself, Marie, Sarah, Sheila, Joe and Jojo were not far behind.  The rest of our intrepid crew filed into the tea house one by one until finally Katy and Dan arrived to a rousing round of applause. Katy had struggled but found her resolve to finish.

First things first. Beer. Everest Beer was the obvious choice. It was not the best beer in the world but it worked for the moment. Dinner and then downstairs to a bit of a club for some pool, bad music and dancing…and then all of us rock stars were in bed at 8:30. 

There are other treks in Nepal, most notably the Annapurna loop. I do not say I will return to a country often but I will return to complete that trek. Caitlyn and I had planned on doing it after EBC. It was on day 4 that we both looked at each other and said "Nope" and with that Annapurna was put off for another day.

I am not a religious person. I do however feel the power of nature when I complete a great trek.  Its beauty, strength and sheer enormity is enough to convince me of place on the planet. 

At the airport I was put on the first flight out of Lukla while the rest of the crew was on the third flight. Shankar asked me if I would because he knew it would not be an issue with me agreeing. This did cause some uncomfortable dark humor with all of us. Either my plane goes down and I am the only one killed or the plane with everyone on it goes down and I am the only survivor. We all made it.

Everest was not quite finished with reminding us of who was really in charge. The day we arrived in Kathmandu I started coughing, soon followed by Caitlyn. This Khumba Cough  is common and a vast majority of trekkers get it. News to me, well researched trip Ken. It can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Guess which one I got?  I will let you read Caitlyn's Blog Post about the experience, it is well written.  

However there is a funny side. Another side effect is gas and the doctor gave me pills so I would not crap" myself. Every time I coughed, I farted, seriously it was ridiculous and loud. Caitlyn said it happened all night when I was sleeping. One night she woke me up and asked me why I got out of bed and moved the table..I never moved a table. Yes it was that loud.

So, who had the last laugh Everest,oh I guess you. There was that "shart" thing.

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