But come to a few weeks out from the trip and I was having some serious doubts such as: “I’m not even a proper hiker”, “Do I have enough equipment?” “How will I fare at altitude?” “I hate the cold!”
Thankfully my stubborn nature made me dig my heels in and take the risk. The decision was rewarded as early as the beginning of the journey, as our party of three joined another 13 of the most adventurous, friendly and enthusiastic companions I’ve been blessed to meet. Each brought with them a wealth of different experiences and personalities, with ages ranging from 25 to 72!
The group’s enthusiasm had us in good stead for the 13-day hike; bolstering our spirits on the first three warm-up days of short hikes. Everyone’s positive attitudes really came to the fore on the fourth day as at 3,400 metres, our party began to struggle with altitude. Thankfully, we had a day to acclimatise in the scenic, cultural village of Namche Bazaar. This and the preparedness of our guide allowed us to get back on track.
Over the next four days we had several 600-metre rises, along with attacks of gastro, migraines and Acute Mountain Sickness. Nothing could dampen our spirits though; everyone was prepared, excited and most importantly, thankful for the challenge. We reached Gorak Shep on day nine and set off for the final trek into Base Camp.
It was during these final hours that disaster struck and Baden went down with a rolled ankle. However, as Baden always manages to do, he picked himself up unceremoniously and continued the slow march until he achieved the inevitable; arriving at Everest Base Camp! This made for one of the highlights of our journey, him and me walking to 5,300 metres elevation together.
The overall encounter afforded us a special insight to a culture and landscape so different to ours. I walked away with a renewed gratitude for the richness of experiences we are graced with during our time on Earth. All of our fellow travellers had a variety of reasons they had joined the expedition; to challenge their current lifestyle, to remember a loved one, or to fulfil a childhood dream. And all walked away feeling a sense of fulfilment and achievement.
My takeaway message was clear: challenge yourself, and go and enjoy the life that God lovingly gave you!