Monthly Archives: September 2016

“But is it homesickness, or just moving forward sickness” (the hindsight blogs #1)

Namche to Pheriche (3500m-4220m). I thought getting to Namche was hard on the second day. Then I became accustomed to a rhythm of swear words for the next few days as we climbed up to Pheriche, our next acclimatization stop. Within this few days we stopped in Phortse, a farming village nestled into the side of a “hill”. It was here we saw our first glimpses of the mountains at about 5am.

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Hiking to Pheriche we had our first mostly clear day, and since Dingboche (our original planned stop) was still closed for the monsoon season we took a detour to Pheriche where we witnessed the whole village collecting and drying grass for the winter season. I think this is where I started getting my first bouts of homesickness. At this point I’d been having vivid, enlightening dreams every single night (maybe due to the altitude and the diamox), and every morning was awaking to a new variation of an old emotion.

Pheriche was about 2 days away from base camp for us. We spent two nights in that village, and while I’d tried to maintain a solid regimen of my garlic soup daily- I began to absolutely never want to see garlic soup ever again here. So I switched to veggie soup with noodles, a brilliant, refreshing change…. and woke up to a chest infection the day we set out again towards the mountain. However at this point, I found myself recognizing some of the homesickness and straight up wifi withdrawal, with a dash of having to let emotions go one by one. I would discover this in the next couple days as the trek continued to absolutely kick my ass.

On our first morning in Pheriche we did an acclimatization hike to 4600masl. Well, I did 4600masl, the rest of my group went up to 4800masl. The guide decided I should just hang out around 4600masl and I wasn’t about to argue that. So we sat for about 40min overlooking a valley, Dingboche, and a monastery across the valley on an opposite “hill” while the group trekked up and then back to where we were. From here moving forwards I was heavily dosing myself with electrolytes, extra strength ibuprofen, and diamox to manage the altitude and the seven day mark of trekking 8-10hrs/day on minimal nutrition (#firstworldproblem). On average during the walking hours my heart rate was hovering between 160-190bpm.

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On our last night in Pheriche, the Sherpa woman who ran the teahouse stood in the centre of the room by the fireplace while we chatted and finished dinner, counting and saying prayers of gratitude over her mala beads. I couldn’t help but notice what a calm energy filled the room after she finished.

Just as I was getting comfortable at 4200masl, onwards and upwards we went. The hike from Pheriche to our next stop in Lombouche broke down a few more mental and emotional barriers for me.. but more on that later…

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#%!?%#! Mountain… 

Day 2 here in Namche Bazzar as we acclimatize to our new altitude of 3400m. Tomorrow we hike up to 3800m.. So today we did a quick morning 2.5hr (and according to our guides “simple”) acclimatizing hike up to that altitude here above the village. 

Simple. Yeah. Right. 

We literally hiked into a cloud. 

Like- mist, cloud floating everywhere, only seeing 10ft in front of you while trekking up hill right after breakfast for 2hrs. 


I definitely regretted the “pancake with honey” I ate for breakfast. Eggs and toast from now on. Or garlic soup. 

At about the hour point my head began to talk me out of the whole thing. My legs kept moving (bless them) but as I looked up every 5 steps into the abyss, occasionally being passed by a Sherpa carrying 50lbs on their backs and running up the rocks in sandals (this is NOT and exaggeration), with my lungs acting like a fish out of water- I literally came up with about 100 new curse words. Most of them cursing the mountains them self, the altitude, and my guides for keeping the slow and steady pace going. 

Our pace? Jam jam slow (jam = go), 15min walking and 1 min rest. Not. Enough. Rest. For. This. Prairie. Dwelling. Canadian. 

My don’t bring the mountain your sadness mantra was thrown in in between the curse combinations I created. Zen with a dash of attitude- that’s the way we’ll be rolling for the next few days as we only climb higher and higher. 


We reached the top- and what I can only imagine would have been phenomenal views behind the cloud. Nonetheless pretty damn amazing. 

After a quick tea we began the descent- which you’d think would be quite pleasant after the #%?!~%# way up. And it was on the lungs, for sure, I didn’t even notice my breathing. I did notice the balls of my feet though. Luckily my legs are still feeling very strong, but it was about and hour of hard landings on uneven stone trails for my wimp feet. 

Finally. Finally we reached Namche again, after some great views above the city. On the way down I got a bit of a headache and a few mood swings- but after eating some delicious garlic soup, sipping some milk coffee and resting I felt back to normal again. 

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Namche, found a money exhchange that would finally take a MasterCard (running low on cash and NO ATMs or money stores take MC for some reason- only Visa),and worked on our bartering game. I found myself a cozy vest and some pashminas and was successful with my bartering! As I type this I’m lounging with a few others in my group in the common area of our tea house debating whether or not I want to pay for a hot shower or tough out a cold one. This is likely our last chance for any sort of shower for the next 5 days. 

Soon we’ll have dinner and a debrief of tomorrow. We move up to 3800m tomorrow, over 6hrs vs the 2hrs we did today so I’m crossing my fingers for less steep inclines. Although I’m learning when they say “gradual incline” here it IS NOT the gradual incline most expect. It is usually curse word inducing. 

Until next time (who knows when- wifi gets less and less from now on)! 

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Don’t bring your sadness to the mountain…

Otherwise the mountain will not let you pass. 

Those were the words our guide started with on day 1. 

It was my mantra by day 3. Today we trekked 8hrs from Phading to Naamche- most of which was a steady incline. Just after lunch we passed the 3000m above sea level point and at this point we also began the bulk of our 800m incline. It was also the point my lungs said wtf. 

While I have been lucky and suffered next to no major altitude sickness symptoms- breathing is SO HARD. Especially doing rocky, make shift trails. I literally was repeating “don’t bring your problems to the mountain” the whole climb today. And taking breaks every 30 steps to do some deep breathing. If you’re wondering what it feels like to breath here (and come from the prairies where you reside at 50m above sea).. It’s like tying a scarf over your face, and then 3 plastic bags, and then running a marathon. 

Not exaggerating. 

The rest of my body? Feels amazing. Seriously. My muscles didn’t really fatigue, probably because my brain was so focused on getting oxygen in it didn’t have time to notice. If I put my hands on my ribs I could feel them expanding and exhaling to their absolute maximum- something not many of us experience ever. Truly amazing and truly uncomfortable all at once. 

There are so many moments where I am hit with a sudden realization of where I am and what I’m doing. Like walking over a swinging bridge over a rushing river, 6stories (at least) in the air surrounded by mountains. Prayer flags tied everywhere and the clouds at eye level. 

This is real and this is where I am. Unbelievable. I’ll write more tomorrow- we stay in Naamche for two nights to acclimatize (thank god). Now I eat some more garlic soup, momos and tea before bed!