Everest Trek 2009 Journal For May 8th

Time for another journal entry! There are two entries from this day, as it was a rest day with lots of time to relax and do some writing. This entry came after what was the most difficult day of the trek, but I survived it and kept on going!

The hike up to Namche Bazaar yesterday was brutal. Everyone found their limits and their breaking points and pushed through them and beyond. We were all in pretty bad shape when we got into camp last night, Jon and I both laid down in our tents for a moment and immediately fell asleep.

My stomach got much worse yesterday, to the point where I simply could not eat at all. Combine that with a difficult day’s hiking, a net gain of about 3,000 vertical feet of the course of 8 or so hours, and you’re gonna have a bad time. By the time we got to lunch, I was already more exhausted than I think I’ve ever been. I was given two options at that point, as it was obvious I simply wouldn’t make it if I kept going as I had been. One, stay there for the rest of the day and rest up, catching up with the rest of the group at Namche Bazaar the next day. Two, a personal porter would carry my pack for me and help me make my way through what would be the most difficult portion of the day, and perhaps the trek. I opted to soldier on.

It was an afternoon of misery and pain. I think I only made due to a mix of mental willpower that I didn’t know I had, and perhaps sheer lunacy.

Then there was this morning. Zipping open the tent and being treated to a magnificent view of the Himalayas.

All that pain? All that misery? Forget it. Doesn’t matter. Look at where I am! Look at what I’ve accomplished! To call this a once in a lifetime would be an insult to the experience. It’s so much more profound than that.

The Himalayas From My Tent

Today is a rest day here in Namche, which will be much needed. We’re all pretty exhausted, and could use a light day. We’ve already hiked up to one of the viewpoints and gotten a look at Everest. Only the very top was visible, but it was still amazing to see it for myself. Finally. Unbelievable!

The hardest part is behind us, or so I’m told. It’s all uphill from here, both literally and figuratively.

And so completes the first entry. I have to say, I owe a debt to both Jon Miller and Pemba Sherpa for helping me through this tough day. Were it not for them, I would almost certainly have never made it beyond this point. I was in really bad shape at this point… sick, malnourished, exhausted. Probably the worst I’d ever felt.

But the idea that the so-called “bad stuff” was a small price to pay for the amazing rewards you get in return became a recurring theme of the trek. Yes, there were a lot of tough stuff to work through, but they were all worth it. This is what I was talking about in Chris’s trailer for the trek over on Tips From The Top Floor. And I think it’s a good lesson for life in general. Yeah, life has it’s rough times and difficult turns, but you have to work through those things and survive to see the good stuff. And the good stuff is always worth it. Ultimately, the good stuff will always outnumber the bad stuff if you give it enough time.

Namche Bazaar

Anyway, on to the second entry from the day…

Got though with breakfast and our first photography workshop of the day. My first time shooting in full manual mode, learning “Chris’ Simplified Zone System” to help get proper metering and take photos that look most like what your eyes see as is possible.

I managed to eat an entire bowl of porridge loaded up with sugar this morning, along with a full slice of toast smothered in peanut butter and Nutella. Damn, it was good to get some food in me. On the flip side, I’ve been stricken with what we’ve come to call “digestion Nepali style”, aka the dreaded diarrhea. Once last night, twice so far today. But if it helps settle my stomach and get some food and much needed fuel in my system, then squirt away!

Oh yeah, and the toilets here? Worse than you could probably imagine.

Next time I go there, I’m packing a ton of Nutella. That stuff can be a lifesaver! No matter how much the altitude sickness takes away your appetite, there’s always room for some Nutella.

I should also mention that, in addition to learning “Chris’ Simplified Zone System”, we also invented and came to learn all about the “Marquardt Scale”. This was our way of measuring how bad the “digestion Nepali style” was hitting us. You ranked your movements on a scale of 1 to 2, with 1.0 representing the consistency of “number one” and 2.0 representing the normal consistency of your “number two”, if you follow. On this day, I was probably around a 1.5, think chocolate pudding. At it’s worst, I was a full 1.0, which is every bit as bad as you might expect. Sorry if this is a bit too gross, but it’s a part of the experience!

Again, the bad stuff like this was far outweighed by the good stuff!