Trekking to Everest Base Camp

 

by Jessie Balicki, @balick18

When I decided to travel to Nepal solo, I was scared. When I was a week away from boarding my flight, I was terrified. I had no idea what to expect, no idea who I would meet, and no idea what the trek to Everest Base Camp would entail.

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Mountains have always played a huge role in my life. Growing up in Pennsylvania, I didn't get to visit them often. But when I did, I knew I would end up living near them someday. I moved to Utah almost six years ago, and I've only grown more in love with them since.

So naturally, the thought of visiting the Himalayas and Everest Base Camp intrigued me. None of my friends are into that type of excursion, so I decided to just go for it. If I waited for someone to come with me, I was never going to go. So I joined an REI Adventures trekking group.

On the first day of the trek I overheard a guide who has summited Everest say to one of her clients, "It's just a walk," regarding the EBC trek and ultimate summit bid. That stuck with me.

The trek itself was 14 days round trip and I hoped for the best. Luckily, the best is exactly what I got. My guides and the people in my group were incredible. When you're on a trek with strangers for that long, reaching an altitude of 17,500 feet, things are bound to go somewhat wrong. And they did.

We all got sick at some point. Some of us were throwing up, some of us had diarrhea, some of us had splitting headaches, and one of us even experienced amnesia. But, despite not knowing each other, we all had each other's backs from day one. It's hard to even put into words, but the quick camaraderie that grew between us was unlike anything I've ever experienced. I even got my first tattoo to symbolize the eight of us reaching EBC together, as a perfectly imperfect unit. As I learned, it is very common for someone (or many) from each trekking group to get evacuated via helicopter. But thru our teamwork and constant encouragement, we all made it. I was proud of myself, but I was as equally or even more proud of my seven new friends in that moment.

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As far as the trek itself, it wasn't easy. The air up there is as advertised- thin. When heading towards Base Camp, my rest breaks were frequent and my breathing was heavy. As mentioned earlier, sickness along the way is not only common, but expected. I was nauseous at some points. I didn't shower for 10 days. I was freezing at points. I was frustrated at points. I was in pain at points. I just wanted to go home at points. But finally reaching Base Camp, and then summiting Kala Patthar the next day to see Everest in all of her glory, were two of the most memorable experiences of my life. Even as a mountain person, the views were unlike anything I've ever seen before. The struggle was absolutely worth it.

This trip taught me a few important things. I learned that it's possible to travel by yourself, and it is even possible to love it. I learned that strangers can become some of your most trusted best friends in a very short amount of time. I learned that, with determination and persistence, anything is possible for anyone, regardless of circumstances. And finally, I learned to slow down, enjoy every moment, and not take this grand adventure of life for granted. After all, it's just a walk.

The best walk ever.

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