So, here’s the question that nobody happened to ask me when I decided to trek all the way up to Everest Base Camp:
“Stephen, why are you going outside of the two months every year when there are actually expeditions climbing Everest?”
Hmm. Good point, nonexistent stranger.
The hike, especially having started in the foothills of the Himalaya and walked all the way to Base Camp, was incredible. The scenery was indescribable, the people unexpectedly hospitable, the company (Heather and Francis as well as all the randoms) grand, and the weather alternated between perfectly clear and impenetrably foggy.
On the straightest/fastest trail, the whole hike from Lukla to Base Camp and back could probably be done in 10 days or less. I took a slightly less direct route, and made the trip in a little over a month. Except for the last three days or so, every day was worth the exertion.
Even at Base Camp, an empty spot on a rocky glacier where climbers’ tents have once been and will certainly be again, the very expansiveness of the silence was enough to impress. Other than the noise of my footfalls and the sounds of slow movement of the glacier under my feet, for several hours the quiet was broken by only the occasional raven call as birds still picked at the scraps of past expeditions.
Sitting on a boulder with a view of the Khumbu Ice Fall, the Pinnacles, and the Khumbu Glacier all in one panoramic package made me almost glad in the end that there was nobody else around. Nature seems somehow more majestic when left for contemplation to the solitary soul.
I will admit, I was absolutely looking forward to the “world’s highest bakery” that Lonely Planet promised me. That itself may be a good enough excuse to go back to Nepal and tackle the trail again… maybe climb a mountain next time?