We came. We saw. We conquered. We are back from our trek and we are safe and sore! Wow, what an experience. That was by far the most challenging yet rewarding thing either of us have ever endured. It was part sheer agony, part sheer astonishment. But first of all, I have to say that I have the coolest wife ever! Seriously...this was very hard and Kelly was only doing it because of me. We both got sick from the altitude, and Kelly also had a cold. It was extremely difficult to get out of our cold sleeping bags to hike everyday but Kelly somehow managed to do it, and do it great. She easily outpaced me the entire trek.
We got back 2 days early since we practically ran down the mountains. It took us 9 days to get up, and only 3 to get back (it usually takes 5 but we were looking forward to hot showers too much). We made it to Gorak Shep and did the sunrise trek up Kala Patthar (we only went up halfway since the summit had clouds...plus, our bodies wouldn't let us go up any farther). We actually never made it to Everest Base Camp, for a couple of reasons. 1: There is absolutely nothing to see there. You can't see Everest, there were no exhibitions there, and all we heard that was there were rocks and rubbish. In fact, there isn't even a sign. A Japanese guy we were hiking with tried to go there, thought he was there, but actually wasn't there. 2: Everyone we ran into that went there (only about 1/2 the people that do the trek go) told us not to go. 3: Physically, we couldn't do it the day we were supposed to go. The day we got there, the altitude was getting to me and I could barely walk up the stairs at our lodge. It was about a 4 hour hike there and back, and my head would have exploded if we went. The next day we did Kala Patthar, which is actually higher than Base Camp and then had to come down the mountain because Kelly was going to lose her dinner from the night before if we didn't. Boy did it feel good to go down.
The views we saw were amazing! We saw 4 of the highest mountains in the world, along with some other amazing mountains. We trekked through very diverse terrain and saw some incredible views and met some very interesting people. The weather was okay. The best time to trek is in October/November, so we still had some clouds but had great views nonetheless. However, it was better to go this time of year since it wasn't crowded at all. We are grateful to be back in Kathmandu, though. Some of the things about the trek that weren't so great: horrible blisters on both my feet (David), bruised hips and collar bones from the pack, never finishing a meal since you lose your appetite in the altitude (I finished 2 meals), diarrhea at 17,000 feet in a squaty potty, horrible headaches and stomach aches, getting out of your warm sleeping bag at 7 to put on freezing cold clothes, my smelly feet, having a cold the whole time, a landslide that took out a bride, requiring a reroute with 5 additional hours of hiking, and having your guide say, "If it wasn't cloudy here you could see Everest." Things that we loved: seeing Everest at sunrise, hot water pouches to sleep with, sitting around the yak shit (as the locals call it) fire in the lodge at night, walking silently in beautiful nature, hearing avalanches, meeting people from all over the world, having a funny and knowledgable guide, being able to breathe again coming down, growing closer as a couple through the ups and downs of the trek, and accomplishing something that we are extremely proud of.
Here's a breakdown of where we hiked and how long it took (a total of 59 hours of hiking).
Day 1: flew to Lukla, hiked to Phakding (2610 m) (3hrs)
Day 2: hiked to Namche Bazar (3446 m) (5.5 hours)
Day 3: acclimization day, hiked to Hotel Everest View (3860 m) (3.25 hr)
Day 4: hiked to Phortse (3967 m) (5.5 hours)
Day 5: hiked to Dingboche (4252 m) (6 hours)
Day 6: acclimization day, hiked to Chukung Village (4730 m) (3.75 hours)
Day 7: hiked to Lobuche (4930 m) (5 hours)
Day 8: hiked to Gorak Shep (5180 m) (3 hours)
Day 9: sunrise up Kala Patthar (5545 at summit), hiked back down to Pengboche (3900 m) (9 hours)
Day 10: hiked to Namche Bazar (3446 m) (7.75 hr)
Day 11: hiked to Lukla (2710 m) (7.25)
Day 12: flew back to Kathmandu
Thanks for all your prayers and thoughts. We had the experience of a lifetime! We are going to go to Pokhara for 2 days for some much needed R&R. Then, we'll probably take off about a week early to come home.