I arrived in Kathmandu. I have to say it is change from India. The people and touts are very laid back compared to India. It is really cool here. It has an outdoorsy feel and a really peaceful Buddhist vibe. I am staying in area called Thamel which is where most travelers and trekkers stay. There are numerous restaurants, bars, hotels, and shops. Most in this area are definitely geared towards westerners and trekkers. You see lots of people limping in the street that are obviously beat up from hiking. The Himalayas are no joke. Everyone is talking hiking here. Either people just got back from one or are preparing to leave for one. I am in the preparing to leave one category.
I have been walking the streets and it is seriously sensory overload with all the outdoor shops. I am not a big fan of shopping but I can hangout in an REI outdoor store all day geeking out on gear. Kathmandu is a gear geeks fantasy land and it is cheap. I have to remind myself I don’t have room for a lot of extra gear. You can get wool gloves for a dollar. A beanie for two. A real nalgene bottle costs 4. A jacket for 20 bucks. A sleeping bag for 35. You may be able to get it for less than that but the quality varies. Some gear is available for rent as well.
Over the past couple of days I have been for preparing the trek to the Mount Everest base camp. Honestly I haven’t done much site seeing here because I have been running around everywhere trying to get the logistics done. There was a Nepalese strike for two days over their constitution that made things a little more difficult. Everything virtually shut down. I had to purchase a TIMS permit which is required for all trekkers for $20. There is also a parks permit that I will need but the place was closed when I went there and my understanding it is available on the trail. I have also been trying to update and get gear for the trek. I’m really excited but nervous at the same time. The elevation reaches a dizzying 17,598 feet. Living in Colorado, I’m really aware of that elevation. Honestly I’m not sure my body will allow me to do it. The journey takes roughly two weeks of hiking and you stay in little tea houses in the villages along the way. It is supposed to be breathtaking and very picturesque. This has been a bucket list item of mine for a long time so I definitely have to try! I have some acetazolamide for altitude sickness and I’ll have rest days for acclimatization. Each hiking day, you have to hike at least 1000 feet higher than where you are going to sleep and then come back down. This is supposed to help the body with the elevation. I am trekking solo which is much better than the traveling with a guided group since you can go at your own pace. In a guided group, you are sometimes pushed to move forward when your body needs a little more time to acclimatize to the elevation. Surprisingly they say the fit people have the most trouble with elevation since they move too fast. Anybody who knows me, knows that I have a lot of respect for nature and the mountains. I’m prepared to take it slow if need be and turn around if I have to. I’ll have to listen to my body and just see if I can make it. How your body reacts to elevation is a genetic thing and sometimes you don’t have any control over it. Air rescue can be arranged if in an emergency situation arises in which travel insurance covers. They are use to rescuing people here though. I believe they rescue a lot of people! My travel agent, who booked my plane ticket to Lukla where I will begin my journey, got all my travel insurance information. I registered his name with the permit card and he will be my Nepal emergency contact. He said that if an emergency happens, just have someone in a village get a hold of him and he will be on next helicopter to evacuate me. I’m pretty sure evacuation can be arranged on the mountain too. Even the flight to the Lukla is supposed to be an adventure. The runway is on the side of the mountain and is an epic roller coaster ride through the Himalayas. I hear it has everyone on the plane clapping when you land and come to a complete stop.
I can’t wait! The anticipation is killing me and I’m ready to start my journey into the Himalayas!