In January 2019, I asked one of my best friends, Ash Millman, if she was keen to go on a trip with me, without telling her what I had in mind. Luckily, she was still keen to go after I told her where we were headed! On October 16, 2019, we were on a plane headed to Nepal to complete a 17-day trek through the Himalayas to Everest Base Camp and Gokyo Lakes.
After spending a few days in Kathmandu, our tour began with a 2am wakeup call. We had a 5-hour drive in a mini bus ahead of us, to a tiny regional airport in Ramechhap. It was absolute chaos. There was no seating or waiting area, just trekkers and their luggage everywhere, waiting outside. We were a little concerned by the ‘safety suggestion boxes’ at the airport as we were about to board our 18-person plane. The flight was less than 20 minutes, but we got our first look at the Himalayas and we were so excited. It was quite the adrenaline rush knowing we were about to land at one of the most dangerous airports in the world, with a runway length of just 527m. We landed safely at the Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Lukla, which is situated on the side of a mountain at 2,860m above sea level.
After landing at around 11am, we got some lunch at our first tea house and met all our guides and porters. The tea houses are where we ate and slept during the trek. They have a dining area, kitchen, shared bathrooms and many 2-3 person, very basic, bedrooms. The walls are usually just plywood and the hallway often has no door to keep the cold air out.
We began walking in the rain to the tea house, where we would spend the first night of our trek. We couldn’t believe how cold it was overnight, but I look back now laughing, as we had no idea what was to come…
Day two was the hardest day of the whole trek even though it was only 9.5km to our next destination. The first three hours were fine, but the next four were excruciating. Four hours straight up a mountain, gaining 800m in elevation. Let’s just say we were so excited to finally reach Namche Bazaar, where we would spend the next two nights.
On day three we just did acclimatisation hikes to get our bodies used to the high altitude before returning back down to Namche Bazaar to spend the night. Altitude sickness can be quite severe and even life threatening, so the majority of our group started taking Diamox tablets with the hopes of it reducing or preventing the symptoms. We were told to drink 4-5 litres of water per day which should also help to prevent altitude sickness.
Our first hike for the day took us up to see our first look at Mount Everest and the view was incredible. We had perfect weather with the sun shining and the sky was bright blue. On the way back down, however, Ash slipped on an uneven step and rolled her ankle quite severely. She went back down to the tea house to elevate and ice it for the rest of the day, but it wasn’t looking good.
The next morning, she was really struggling to walk on it and the decision was made that she would stay behind with one of the assistant guides to rest it for a few days. They planned to leave in a few days to meet up with us on our way back from Gokyo Lakes and that way she should still be able to make it to Everest Base Camp. She ended up going to a tiny hospital and got an X-ray to make sure nothing was broken, but not before waiting 5 minutes to make sure there was enough electricity for the machine to run. Luckily nothing was broken but she did tear two ligaments!
I continued on with the group and fell more in love with the Himalayas each day. The scenery was like nothing I had ever seen. I was so excited to finally get above the tree line, which is at an altitude of around 4,000m. It was like being on another planet. It also snowed on us while we were doing an acclimatisation hike in Machhermo at 4,470m, which was amazing.
Day seven was the day we reached Gokyo Lakes. The day I had been most excited for. Of course I woke up feeling terrible as I had caught a cold and everyone in our group was sick or coughing, from the cold air in our lungs. It was a struggle but knew it was all worth it when I saw the first of the three lakes we would see. The third lake, where the village of Gokyo is situated, was the largest and most incredible. The water is such a bright blue and honestly didn’t even look real. It was by far the most beautiful place I had ever been in my life.
After admiring the lake for a substantial amount of time, we hiked up to see the Ngozumpa Glacier. It was massive and we could hear the ice cracking below it. We were standing on the ridge with a view of the lake on one side and a view of a glacier over 30km long on the other side. I could not believe my eyes. Not to mention we were at an altitude of 4,790m. I was in complete awe.
To be continued…
In the meantime, you can see videos from our trip by searching ‘Adventures of Katelyn’ on YouTube.