I ended up trekking in Nepal via those famous last words “It's your birthday; you choose what you want to do”. For a long time I'd wanted to go trekking in Nepal – specifically to Everest Base Camp. And so my wonderful family granted me my wish – and you know what else they say, be careful what you wish for.
Not being one to go back on my word I started on a strict training program of going to the gym three times a week, walking in the Brecon Beacons and Snowdon. My theory on this territory was that the SAS train in these areas, so it must be similar to Nepal..wrong!
We opted for staying in tea-houses, it's got to be more comfortable than camping..wrong again! Tents do not have mice and rats, and the toilet facilities have got to be at least 100 times cleaner.
The first few days up to Namche Bazaar were hell on earth. I knew that I was not super fit, but I felt like I was running on half power. It did not help either that most of the others in the group appeared to have no problem at all laughing and joking along the way, and already half way through their cup of tea by the time I eventually arrived at the next stop red faced and breathing heavily. Still, remember the hare and the tortoise fable, keep your head down and carry on.
Namche was where the splitting headaches started; it was also the first non-walking day, a day to explore and acclimatise. Now you may get the impression that I was not really enjoying this, but it did have its moments, the first of these was a wonderful German bakery which served a superb apple strudel.
It might have been my imagination, but from here the walking was a lot less steep, for me it seemed to get easier. Do not get the wrong idea, easy is probably not the right word, and for some, the altitude began to bring on blinding heads and nausea. What's the cure? Lots of garlic, garlic soup, roasted garlic, anything, and everything contained garlic; that included the strudel.
Now for the serious bit. One thing which really stuck me was that fitness is important, but it's not everything, especially when you get higher, luck plays its part too. Three people in our group, all fit, plus a Sherpa who did the route regularly, suffering from symptoms of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) and had to descend quickly, thankfully everyone fully recovered as soon as they reached a lower altitude. The hare and tortoise fable resurfaced again; take it slowly and acclimatise.
The second memorable moment was when we got back for our final night on the edge of the airstrip at Lukla, the party was incredible; it must have been all that oxygen, or was it the thought that tomorrow there might be an opportunity for a good long bath!
For me my first Nepalese trek was extreme and it was not really wise to choice as my first serious trek. Having said that, it is still something I remember with a feeling of pride as I did it! So, whether you are marking one of those 'special' moments in your life, or you just enjoy a challenge, trekking in Nepal is an experience you'll never forget and never regret.