Wake up call around 6:30am. For my last night with the team I got to share a room with Paola, which was a sweet treat. Paola’s sense of humor is absolutely priceless and throughout this journey it’s been her wittiness and sense humor which we’ve used as a barometer to see if Altitude was affecting her. We even named a new Altitude symptom after her – AAS
It was comical to see how almost everyone came to our room to ask for A or B, making us the last ones to be ready. Since the start of the trek, Paola had brought her most special Teddy bear “Mr. Justice” to make it to Base Camp and a traditional Mexican doll. Now as she proudly had attached both into her pack, it was amazing to see how far in this journey she’s come along.
Having Jess stopped by as well in the room was really special. She amazed all of us on her incredible strength and perseverance through this journey. In a couple of the days, she kept up with Asha who’d always be ahead trying to get lunch or others ready for us. And her writing completely moved me as she updated the blog on one of our days. Looking forward in hearing more of her updates very soon!
As we all sat for Breakfast, the overall spirit was a little bit of nervousness. It had snowed the night before and both Jess and Paola were seeing snow for the first time — to me, a special gift from the Mountains to add into the beauty of an amazing trip. We agree on taking it every easy as snow on rock could be quite slippery. The sun was shining pretty strong and by 9am we were ready for our walk.
Our plan was that once we reached Base Camp, the whole team will turn back and start descending, and I’d then head into my own expedition camp and start my own journey climbing Everest. Since the beginning of this incredible dream, it’s been easy for me to share that vision of eventually reaching Base Camp and continue my path; and NOW in reality, knowing that I’ll have to say goodbye to this very special group of amazing young women and dear friends was something I was completely dreading. Jess, Paola, Shawn and I left San Francisco on March 31st, even though it had been 14days together it felt we had been trekking for months.
And so the final trek started led by Jess. I stayed last savoring every single moment. Even though for the rest of the team, the journey won’t be completed yet, making up into this very high altitude is quite the accomplishment. Long lost was that very first night in Phakding in which Jess and Paola were not feeling too well, long lost it was so much of that struggle, self-doubt and lack of breathing that we got hit during this journey. What truly has amazed me since almost 11 years ago, is how this amazing feat is literally one step at a time. Seeing Paola and Shailee doing their silly dance at our rest stops was making me so teary eyed. Urmila had gotten a little affected by altitude though her fighting spirit wanted to keep going, so her and I walked part of the trek holding hands. As we had run out of electrolytes, (I had a whole bag ready for the team on Base Camp), the generosity of a sweet stranger “Cassandra” who selflessly gave us a whole set of electrolyte capsules gave Urmila the strength to power through.
And then by around 11am, the sight of the entrance of Base Camp. We all took our final break, laughing and joking. Everest at plain view, with a beautiful sun welcoming us. Just as we got closer, I could spot a big film crew. The Travel channel has a very large film crew capturing a rescue show and as we got closer to touch our goal, we were stopped by one of the crew members as they needed silence to film a segment.
The irony of this whole journey was just simply stated on that request. I’ve seen so many impediments and setbacks to fulfill this dream and here 20yards away, we were being interrupted. I took a deep breath and just smiled.
With the segment completed, we got the green light to go. Everyone had their prayer flags on hand I’d had given them at the start of the journey, even Dr. Jackie was with us, and as I lead the team to touch the big rock signifying the entrance, a big group hug was the best way to acknowledge our amazing accomplishment. Jess, Tshiring, Urmila, Paola, Shailee, Sunita and Asha. All of us joined together in this hugging circle. Personal hugs, big high fives, a lot of laughter, tears rolling down our eyes. Disbelief looking at Everest. Here we were, we had done it! As a fun twist of “faith/weather” rolling dark clouds meant that we couldn’t stay too long. We did the official picture photo sessions. The girls hung their flags, a beautiful set up welcoming everyone to this very special entrance.
Paola led me on a beautiful offering to the mountain and to our dreams. And my tears unable to stop streaming down my puffied eyes, with strangers wondering what was triggering me so bad J
I knew it was time for me to let them go, I stepped away from the group and waited for them where the roads intersected between the road into my own expedition site and the return to Gorak Shep. A very special and strong embrace with each Courageous Girls, thanking them for taking such a bold step and following a stranger on this unbelievable dream.
Each member giving me well wishes and strength for my own journey. Too fast as they needed to depart. Paola gave me her little Mexican doll for good luck and after one last group shot, the whole team started trekking away. All I had left was to stand from a rock screaming and waving “Bye, bye”, crying so hard, feeling so many emotions. Letting go, as the promise had just happened.
Shawn decided to walk to my camp for one last interview and he’d then catch up to the team. We hugged as I was very emotional, though walking through the slippery ice/rock mix of base camp was enough to wipe my emotional state and put me back on my alert mind.
Lunch at my expedition tent, last interview, one last filming shot. As I walked Shawn and the porters that had helped carried the filming equipment, one last ceremonial task for me. Hanging all the blessed Prayer Flags with the names of all of our supporters, one last picture and a big goodbye.
Time for dinner, meeting my new teammates. I wasn’t feeling as talkative, I just wanted to wrap up dinner and head to my tent and embrace that last memory of today. By 9pm, heard from everyone that they had made it safe into Lobuche. Time for me to then go to bed. Tomorrow I’ll start my day facing the 2nd part of my dream, the preparations to Climb Everest. All for now. Good night!
Treat of the day: All of us embracing at Base Camp and their safe arrival to Lobuche!
PS – Blooper of our fun video: