Today was Base Camp day, if i made it then it would be a day earlier than expected and I was ready to get this done. I was hoping for some good weather as up until this point I had yet to see Everest, there are loads of places to see Everest along the trek but it had been hidden by clouds every day. I was seriously thinking that I would have to wait until i got home to do a Google image search before I would see what Everest looked like!
As was the case for most of the time on the trek I did not have a great nights sleep, I was feeling pretty nauseous and had the usual bad headache which kept me awake for most of the night have to say not really a huge fan of the altitude. It was probably my worst nights sleep on the trip but I just kept saying it is the attitude not the altitude that matters.
Today’s hike began at 5am when it was still dark outside, I packed a lighter pack and left some heavier gear at the teahouse as we were due to return there for lunch and you want to carry the bare minimum to Base Camp if you can. I finally got to use my head torch for the first time on the trek (was beginning to wonder why I brought it) due to the aforementioned darkness outside and the first part of the trek was relatively straight forward apart from it being really dark and my torch being pretty rubbish. It was not long until the trek started to get harder as we encountered steeper terrain, this was defiantly the hardest part of the trek so far. My backpack was probably only about 3kg in weight but it felt 3 times that weight, I was moving really slow with each step starting to take a significant effort. It was so bad that I was hunched over and pretty much picking up each leg with my hands before planting it in front of me, this was definitely no joke.
It seemed like an age but just after 7am we reached Gorak Shep after ascending around 200m and there it was time to get some breakfast at a teahouse. I decided on some pancakes and jam which was nice but I really should have loaded up with more food as I would be starving later on. In the teahouse I met some fellow travellers who had just returned from doing a sunrise hike up Kala Patter, the usual itinerary is to do base camp and stay overnight at Gorak Shep before scaling Kala Patter the next day. As i had changed my itinerary i would not be doing this but after viewing the photos of clouds (was not a clear day) that the travelers had taken i felt vindicated in my decision.
After some rest it was time for the final push to Base Camp, the trek is actually along a glacier and it starts of relatively flat. I followed my guide who had set of like a bullet and although I managed to keep up I did find myself out of breath a few times. It was more a gradual ascent up to the base camp ridge and then the final section was nice and flat although at the higher altitude still not easy going.
We actually made pretty good time and just after 8am arrived at Base Camp, it was a perfect time to arrive as no one else was there and the clouds briefly lifted to finally reveal Everest and the surrounding mountains. I have to say it is a bit strange when you get to Base Camp as on the one hand you have gone through a long hard trek to get there so it’s a relief and a sense of achievement. On the other hand you get there and its a bit like, is this it?!. There are a pile of rocks and some prayer flags and its almost anti climatic, apparently due to the unstable nature of the glacier which base camp lies on the camp moves each year, having said that though the view is pretty outstanding. I could see where people who are climbing Everest start and also where they climbers sleep, the climbing season is in May which meant that there were no tents there at the present time but the path up to Everest looked amazing and challanging.
I stayed enjoying my moment and the peacefulness of the area for about 30 mins and made sure that I of course took like a million photos. The hike back was pretty long as we headed non stop back to Lobuche which took around 3 hours and I was absolutely starving as all I had eaten was some pancakes and a couple of nutri grain bars. I was also exhausted with a combination of lack of sleep, food and the hot sun meaning I was grateful to get some lunch and a rest in the teahouse. I had a big plate of vegetable fried rice for lunch which went down a treat and then a spent an hour drinking some water and relaxing before resuming the trek.
The next part of my trek was to head to Dingbouche which was at a much lower altitude and hopefully would be a more comfortable place to sleep. As i set off I bumped into a few fellow trekkers that I had met a few days ago who were shocked to find I had been and done ECB, they were a good bunch of auzzies and brits who were on the same itinerary as i was. I should note that while trekking you do tend to see the same people along the trekking path as most people have a pretty similar itinerary, if you are travelling alone like i was it means you are never short of some people to talk to or socialise with.
Anyway back on the trek and I have to say after the food and one hour rest I got a bit of a second wind and found the rest of the day pretty easy going. The path was mostly down hill and we went at a pretty good pace and before I knew it we were approaching the town. The worst part of this trek was probably near the end, we arrived at an elevated position above the town and I could see were we were going and thought we were done. The truth was that the town was still quite far, deceptively far and it seemed like it was never getting any closer, after trekking and more trekking we eventually arrived at just after 2pm. I checked my Garmin and apparently I had done 35,000 steps in the day, it was now time to relax at my tea house The room I got was pretty nice, even had an en-suite bathroom which was a luxury for trek accommodation, the only thing that was not great was the bed which was probably the most uncomfortable bed I have ever slept on.