Just putting this out there.
Last year I published this post to describe the last day of my trek that took me to Everest Base Camp and back.
Now I’m in the process of getting the whole thing down on paper and trying to put it all together, basically I’m writing a memoir. As those of you who’ve been around a while may remember, a couple of years ago I made a commitment to myself to get serious about writing. Now I’m serious.
My question to you is: Do I start the memoir with this passage? If I did would you want to read on?
The river of mud, yak poo and urine beneath my feet had become a blur some kilometres back, all that mattered now was that my feet were taking me forward, not what they were stepping in.
As I walked, continually upwards, I began chanting silently to myself, one … two … three… I needed to count, I needed to know I was going forward.
My feet quietly obeyed the instruction that my brain forced down through my exhausted body.
One, two, three, counting my footsteps, counting the steps getting me closer to the end. Every turn on the track spat out more steps upwards, never ending, one, two, three … one … two … three … Yangjing’s encouraging ‘not far now,’ urging me forward, washed over me as the mud ran under my feet and what breath I had left was forced out in short gasps. I’d long since stopped looking for the end point.
The late afternoon dampness enveloped me, so far removed from the morning crispness we had set off in some 10 hours ago. At what point had enthusiasm for the day’s challenge turned into a struggle and then into a determination that blotted out all else? There was no option, I had to keep going. The end was in sight, almost.
Ironic, that as we headed theoretically down the mountain, this final section of the track took us upwards to our destination. This was our starting point just over two weeks ago, obviously we set off in a downwards direction, in those first two hours we descended hundreds of steps that took us down three hundred metres, but who realised or remembered that this is what we would face at the end. I certainly never thought that one of my biggest struggles would face me on this last day.
The entrance to Lukla, the archway marking the beginning of the track, that we’d originally passed through fifteen days ago, enthusiastically and with a verve that had gone missing in me in recent hours, came into view, but still more steps. Upwards. One … two … three …
Finally, after what seemed like forever, I walked under that arch, through that entrance way and back into Lukla. That main street didn’t seem so long the last time I walked it. One … two … three ….
One, two, three. The slippery rocks that paved the way through the main street of Lukla needed a watchful eye and careful footwork in the dim light of a drizzly late afternoon. The open ditch needed to be crossed, I almost stumbled and needed Yangjing’s steadying hand.
More steps from street level up to the lodge. My purple hiking pole moved across to my left hand to allow my right one to grab the handrail, I needed all the help I could get. It was no longer one, two, three, but one … one … one.
And then it was over, I’d done it. I’d returned to my starting point. I’d trekked all the way to Everest Base Camp and back.
But I’d done more than that.
I’d proved something to myself and along the way I’d learned some lessons and started to understand how my life had taken me from being a shy, naïve and insecure young woman to the confident and capable woman who’d challenged herself to leap so far out of her comfort zone that it had taken everyone by surprise. I’d also begun to figure out the part that I’d played in that process.
As I made it to the landing at the top of the stairs and walked into the dining room of the lodge the tears that had been held determinably in check for the last couple of hours erupted, there was no stopping them. The emotions flowed, exhaustion and exhilaration in equal measure. The seat that I collapsed onto was so welcome, my legs no longer capable of supporting me.
Some of the group would arrive an hour later but others who’d made it to Lukla fifteen minutes in front of me shouted their congratulations and high fived me, but all I could do was sob. Anan put a warming cup of mango juice in front of me, he accepted my gulp of thanks and refilled the cup as I emptied it.
From my sitting position I clicked the catches on the straps of my pack and unloaded it from my back, leant my hiking pole against the wall, leaned back and breathed.
Yep, I’d done it and despite the tears streaming down my face I was grinning inside.