I thought I might leave ‘The Best Day’ as my final post — you know, to end on a high note.

But the reality is that a trek like this is hard in ways you don’t anticipate. It is physically draining, of course, but also, emotions tend to sideswipe you. You can look at a rhododendron blossom dangling over a glacial river and start to cry. You will be cheering and jeering at nightly card games, even if you’re not playing.

The Elements

I am huddled in my sleeping bag as I write this, because, outside of the common room, tea houses are not heated. Some are built of plywood and have no running water. To flush the toilet (usually shared), you dump a bucket of water into the bowl. Insulation in walls? Hahaha…cute idea. The lodges with stone walls are like sleeping in a castle. Rock IS the insulation. Even writing this post, my fingers are freezing.

Mouth & Nose

Several of us have developed blisters on our lips from the sun & wind & cold. It hurts like hell. I try to drink my coffee without touching the side of my mouth to the cup. When I eat, I curl my lip so no food will touch the blister. I cried today when I got ketchup on my lip — it’s that painful.

Feet

My feet have no blisters, thank god. However, my toenails were a little too long 2 days ago, and the constant downhill pressure made the tips of my big toes go numb. I’ve regained feeling, but they still tingle.

Hygiene

I went four days without a shower. My hair was so oily, I put baby powder in it and brushed it out — just to get rid of the smell. Baby wipes are helpful. First you put them in the inside pocket of your down jacket to warm them. Then, you expose one sliver of your body at a time to clean. It doesn’t really help you stay warm— but it makes you feel clever.

Sleep

I go to bed after supper. It’s dark. (Did I mention it’s cold too?) And even if I could keep my eyes open to read, the activity leaves one hand exposed to the cold. Even with gloves on, I take turns holding the book with one hand, while the other gets tucked into the sleeping bag. I quickly found it’s too much work. I haven’t been awake past 8pm since we began the trek.

Fitness and Physiology

Fitness and physiology is a fascinating part of this journey. You can take long walks at home, but you would need to train hard for a trek like this.

Dirt

I am dirty. Even if I get a hot shower, my clothes are filthy. I stepped in yak shit, and it got on the cuff of my pants — and I don’t even care. I’ll wash them in the sink later and hope they dry.

It’s All Downhill from Here, Except when you go up

The thing about this trek is that sometimes to get from one place to another, you have to climb up in order to get back down again. It is not a steady uphill battle to Everest Base Camp followed by an easy descent to Luckla.

The Truth about Trekking

I’m sure I could fill a book with what I’ve learned. And maybe I will someday. Our guide told us: “Most people don’t begin hiking with the EBC,” then she looked at me and added, “Unless they’ve done ten Marathons or something.

So, you want to go?

Despite the truths I’ve shared, some of you crazy people might want to undertake something like this. I will tell you — go for it!

American expat in Germany, formerly conservative homeschool mom now navigating widowhood; runner, writer, Crossfitter, trying to figure **it out

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