“I need to be me”
– says Kanika Kush who got out of her comfort zone to take up the challenging journey to Everest Base Camp on her debut expedition.
It all started over a cup of coffee. These couple of guys, owners of Adventure-Pulse, came to pay a visit around Nov’15.
The aura of Everest is enough to lure anybody and I was hooked after a few moments of conversation revolving around the adventure and thrill of the Everest Base Camp.
Six months later I found myself at Lukla airport (Nepal), at about 2800meters above sea level. From here on, it was my legs and mind that needed to work in tandem.
About 3 hours later, we reach this beautiful place called Phakding (don’t let the name misguide youJ). All of us 14 odd members felt we may have over-rated the trek to the base camp. This was easy breezy.
Not for long, as we were asked to get in bed by 7pm, as next day, we needed to be up by 5am, use a common loo, eat a quick meal and set afoot on a 6 hour long trek to Namche Bazaar.
Long journey was an understatement!!! Half-way through I wanted to give up! It was excruciating…..the road was not taking an end…it was going on and on man. What the hell?!
Finally, after giving it all I could, I reached Namche Bazaar. Quite a kick-ass place I must say. (note to self: visit again with hubby and son). Lovely lovely place!! Beautiful little quaint town nestled in the Himalayas at about 3200 metres. The next day was acclimatization, so we climbed a nearby mountain called Syangboche. Here’s where I couldn’t help myself, but cry. Out of being overwhelmed, at the sheer beauty of what I witnessed, from such close quarters. It was a breathtaking view of the mountains. Serene, soundless….magnificent.
Day 5: Trek to Tingboche.
This was by far the most beautiful and not so difficult trek. Or maybe the legs had gotten used to trekking 6-7 hours on tough terrain. We crossed jobgyos, mules, dogs and fat sparrows on the way. We saw Sherpas doing super human activities like carrying trunks of wood on their heads, barefoot. We saw beautiful rhododendrons in full bloom, and pine trees, doing the dance in the wind. We met monks in their maroon robes going about their duties. It was beautiful. The end of this journey got us to Tingboche….a 200 meter x 200 meter wide town – With a bakery, a monastery, a school and a tea house (Deboche), our stop for the night. By now, the thinness of air had started to make its presence felt, but I wasn’t complaining as my O2 content was 94%, yes sir!!
Again, the 5:30, 6:30, 7:30 rule of waking up, breakfast and leaving came into play. By now my body was in tune with its surroundings, the time, and the change in breathing patterns….oh and also the king-size appetite I had developed.
Day 6: Trek to Dingboche.
This was literally a walk through the clouds, with the Doodh-Kosi (milk-like river), running alongside, far below of course, throughout the journey. It is during this trek that I realized the uselessness of silly thoughts that inundate our minds. How simplicity is the way to live by. Its easy, its simple. After a long but beautiful trek of about 7 hours, we reached Dingboche. A quiet place at about 4000 metres. I was warding away slight breathlessness I was feeling. Mind over matter Ms. 94%.
Day 7: Acclimatization. Again, a short trek to a nearby mountain, and back.
Day 8: Trek to Lobuche.
4800 metres. This was something else. We had anyway left behind vegetation of any kind. Now it was time to walk up steep mountains for long periods of time, short of breath completely. Over boulders, over stones, over pebbles. Up and down. At one point we saw small monuments dedicated to the likes of Scott Fisher and many more. Started to feel insignificant as a human being and lucky to be offered a chance like this. All made-up worries evaporating with every lack of breath. My love, my deep love for my family was on the surface. Solitude was in abundance, or not…as the mountains spoke. A lot.
After struggling with pain in the legs, lack of oxygen and feelings of frustration yet extreme happiness, reached Lobuche. A cold, dry, foggy place. A place which took away my sleep, and will give me nightmares for the rest of my life as to how it feels when you can’t breathe at night. All I wanted was for the night to get over. Well, it did.
Day 9: Trek to Everest Base Camp EBC!!.
We were to undertake a journey from Lobuche to Gorakshep to EBC, and back to Gorakshep. This was to take close to 10 hours. By now, you are on another level. Your fitness and stamina and mind are being put to an extreme test. At least mine were. I’ve been a Zumba instructor past 3 years, and a lazy overweight bum before that. My dedication to fitness were showing results here I guess. And I was filled with gratitude to every grain in this universe. Not everyone who had started out on this trek, had made it this far. All fitness….or mind. I don’t know.
I had something to prove to myself, and I was not going to quit. I’m my Army Officer dad’s and tough as steel mother’s daughter. I couldn’t let them down. I couldn’t let my mind and body down.
So here I was, walking at 3-4 kmph, trudging along…..taking deep breaths. (Johnie Walker – keep walking).
After a short halt at , we began a 3 hour journey to EBC. Believe it or not, we got there. Yes we did!!!!!! 5346meteres!!! It was exhilarating!!
The old adage ‘It’s the journey that matters’, came flooding to my mind. The destination was a culmination of the experiences during the journey. The peek-a-boo of the Everest, wouldn’t have been possible without the journey. The journey was impossible without dedication to fitness of the mind and body.
And also the fact, that being a mother, a wife, a career woman, a daughter, a friend, a home-maker….still allowed me time to be me. My son is so proud of me, as are my husband and my parents.
A journey that re-inforced the value of fitness, of grit and determination and most of all, enhanced the upliftment of the soul.
One experience, I would recommend to all. Go climb that mountain, you!!
Author ~ Kanika Kush