Another night where I woke up at 3am with no chance of getting back to sleep. I was battling against jet lag, high altitude, and the aftershocks of a yak cheese 'pizza.' I made the best of my time lying in my sleeping bag by listening to "The Power of Now" by Ekhart Tole. Listening to his voice drone on and on about the importance of separating your thinking mind from your conscious awareness is almost as good as sleep. I must have drifted off at one point because I came to and he was still explaining about the past and the present and the future. At this point I switched over to Alan Watts who, like Ekhart, has also mastered human consciousness but has managed to take things one step further by bringing a sense of humor to the whole thing.
I got up at sunrise in Namche Bazaar, feeling particularly enlightened. The rain clouds from the evening before had cleared and I was surprised to see an amazing view of snow-capped peaks from our lodge. This was to be the first of many incredible mountain views that I was to experience today. Come to think of it, today ranks as one of the most memorable days of my life. Over breakfast we learned that my Dad had not been able to sleep at all during the night due to the frightening sensation that he was suffocating. He spent the night gasping for air, unable to derive enough oxygen from the thin atmosphere at 11,500 ft. The rest of us were feeling relatively good and I was relieved to discover that my guts had won the epic battle against the cursed yak cheese pizza. After breakfast- oatmeal this time, just to play it safe- we began our acclimatization hike, heading up and out of Namche Bazaar.
More like Namche Bizarre.
Powered by the combination of Cordyceps, ginseng, chlorella, and ginkgo biloba I was feeling charged up and ready to go. We hiked up a short ways out of Namche Bazaar to a high plateau where we were rewarded with a 360 degree panorama of mountain peaks including the elusive Everest view. The Everest peak was not shrouded in clouds yet and, in my excitement, I took way too many pictures of it. Mount Everest reaches up so high into the sky that it actually scrapes up against the jet stream, causing high winds and clouds on the summit all year round- save for the precious few weeks in May when the warm monsoon front travels up from the south. The warm air forces the jet stream up and the high winds at the top cease, allowing climbers to summit the peak. Although it is impressive, Everest is not the most impressive mountain to be viewed from our location. Other mountains such as Ama Dablan, Nuptse, and Thamserku were much closer to us, and thus they appeared to loom higher in the sky. After about ten minutes of photos, Dad decided that he could go no further as he needed to go back to the lodge and rest up. So the four of us and our guide, Gopal, continued straight uphill for another 1000 ft to The Everest View hotel- the highest five star resort in the world. By the time we got there, Everest was once again hidden by thick clouds and so "The Everest View Hotel" was a bit of a misnomer.
Everest. The peak on the far left with the jet-stream coming off it.
We enjoyed some delicious, overpriced tea on the back porch and bundled up against the wind that was growing in force by the minute. The Everest View may have been a let down, but the views that we took in along the way were nothing short of spectacular. There were several times when I was forced to a standstill, with nothing else I could do but stare in wonder at my surroundings. It was breathtaking, and not just because of the lower oxygen levels at 12,500 feet. We returned exhausted and were glad to take part in the second part of our rest day which involved lying in bed, reading a book, and then taking a very slow walk through village to check out the various trekking shops. Eventually the weather picked up, as it seems to do every afternoon, and soon it was snowing sideways. I was too exhausted to care and happy to go back to the room and read my book written by Bear Grylls about his summit of Everest back 1998. The more I learn about what it takes to get to the top, the more I am convinced that I never want to attempt it. Hiking to Everest base camp at 17,700ft- higher than any peak in the US- is enough of a challenge for me. We went to bed early again because tomorrow is meant to be one of the hardest hikes of the trek. I lay in bed with visions of the amazing peaks we saw during our hike- I fell asleep instantly.
Amazing scenery on the way up to Everest View Hotel.
Nick Hughes is a massage therapist, yoga instructor and co-owner of Well Being.