Today was one of three recovery days before we leave basecamp. Normally it would only be 2 days but we come off the mountain a day early. We took showers (which were sorely needed), cleaned and organized gear, and spent a lot of time in our tents reading or listening to music. After lunch we were pleasantly surprised by Raj walking into the mess tent! Raj is the owner of Responsible Adventures who provided our basecamp support (Chandra & Dill). He decided to catch a helicopter ride and surprise us at base camp to accompany us the remainder of the time we’re here! The cooking tent was like a party during dinner with all of Raj’s friends here at base camp. It was especially funny to see them all laughing and eating while packed in the tiny tent because Raj barely fit at 6ft 5 and all the others are closer to 5 feet tall.
Happy Thanksgiving to me!!!! I am celebrating it by myself because I am the only American in the group. Today the only thing worth noting is that we did laundry again (hopefully for the last time) and after lunch Raj gave us a history of Nepal and all of its people and cultures dating back thousands of years. It was fascinating and quite impressive. I spent a lot of time in my tent today listening to music which was a first for me. Normally I spend my free time answering emails or trying to send info for social media but because the WiFi is down I️ was able to just do nothing and relax which was a weird but welcome feeling. For dinner they made fried chicken with mashed potatoes and vegetables for my “thanksgiving” meal and it was delicious and very thoughtful of them. There is so much to give thanks for in my life!!
For lunch today they made an apple pie for another thanksgiving treat. I spoke with Raj for a while about business and some of the struggles he has with doing business in Nepal in addition to some of the ambitions he has for his company. It will be fun to collaborate with him and his business especially on the humanitarian side of things because there is so much need here in this region and I feel Roamm can do a lot of good. After that there was several hours of chilling in our tents as the temperature slowly dropped. We eventually all gathered in the mess tent and began watching another episode of “Reel Rock” that Wayne had downloaded on his phone before he come. We watched that for about an hour and a half while we waited for dinner. It was about 17 degrees inside the mess tent so we would occasionally stand up and start jogging in place to get feeling back to our feet while trying to concentrate on this small phone screen! I must admit there was a part of me that missed being able to watch a movie on a nice comfortable couch in a nice warm house in my PJ’s. But then again, I should count myself lucky that I am able to watch movies at all while I’m at 15,000 feet at base camp. Since it’s our last night at camp they prepared a special dinner of tuna pasta, pizza and a sweetly decorated cake, all of which were delicious and amazing! The staff/employees at Responsible Adventures are top notch and the best I have personally seen. Their service goes way beyond what you would expect and they have grown to be our friends. Aside from there amazing and sometimes even mind blowing culinary talent, we have become like family to them as well and they have expressed genuine concern for us while we were on the mountain. I don’t think I could ever go with another adventure agency for any return trips to Nepal, Tibet, India, etc. If any of my readers are interested in travel, trekking, climbing, or even cultural events in this region of the world, there is no need to look any further than “Responsible Adventures”, you will be glad you did. By the way, I’m not getting any $ or kickback or anything for recommending them and praising them so highly. I’m doing it because they truly are that awesome and deserve it.
Today was our last day at base camp and it was both a welcome and sad change (mainly welcome). After 18 days at or above base camp dealing with the bitter cold as soon as the sun sets, I am surprised how good and strange it feels to be sitting in the tea hut again (Highland Sherpa in Pangboche), nice and warm and enjoying the camaraderie of other climbers/trekkers, WiFi and herbal tea. I guess this is our first step on our way down to Lukla. In a day and age where we are used to getting from point A to point B quickly via car, train, or plane, I get to walk my way out one step at a time, one day at a time and I wouldn’t have it any other way! That is one of the many beauties of the Himalayas, there are only foot paths that connect villages, no roads, no cars, no bikes. I️ love it because this forces me to slowly take in the beauty of some of the most impressive topography on the planet.
This morning while we were eating breakfast a young couple sitting next to us leaned over and asked if we had any medication for vomiting and diarrhea. Everyone looked at me as I seem to be the team quartermaster, after speaking with them I️ guessed that she needed some antibiotics and anti nausea medicine but I am no doctor. I shared what I had and I’m glad to help, but I just hope that I don’t need them later on! You should really be prepared with medicine for any kind of travel. Anyway, today we hiked back down to Namche! As always, it’s great to be back in such a cool place. We are staying at the same place as last time, the Nest. My room even had a shower that I could stand up in the whole time and not have to squat down due to water pressure, it was borderline life changing.
After dinner the team was looking forward to going to a famous Irish pub here so they took off to whet their palates but not before having all of us sign one of my Roamm shirts which they pinned up in the pub as a proud reminder of our joint venture:
I took advantage of the alone time and was able to call my family and talk to them for nearly an hour! So different than the last time I was here, when I had to pay a few bucks a minute to call home via satellite phone. Here in the lodge at Namche, I just pay the equivalent of 5 dollars and I have unlimited (slow) internet the whole time I’m here. It definitely makes the month away from my wife and kids more bearable!
This morning we left Namche with the end destination of Lukla and an airplane home. It was a further trek than the previous day but around the same time. I have to admit that it took a little more out of me today than yesterday but now I am nice and cozy in the dinner hall of the same hotel we visited on the first day of our trek after getting off the plane. I had a pleasant surprise during lunch at Phakding, Buddha Lodge, as it turns out, the owner (Dorje Sherpa) is the same Sherpa who took the I️-Max camera to the top of Everest for the 1996 Everest I️-Max production! That was a big deal to me so I asked to take a picture with him and he was all smiles.
Anyway, the weather turned overcast and it started to rain a little as we strolled into Lukla, I say strolled but really we came in at a pretty good clip that wore us all out. This is our last day in the Himalayas and I’m not sure how to feel about it. One thing about Lukla is that it’s a village where things both begin and end, and both are cause for celebration which is why it’s a party every night here! Rather than focusing on the end of an incredible expedition and letting it damper the evening, I’m go to stop writing, put down my phone and enjoy the last night I have in the mountains that I love!