Just before 8am in the morning we are back in what has been our almost uncomfortable “mobile home” for another days worth of driving but one we are all looking forward to.
A stop at another military check point and it seems all of our paperwork including the required permits for EBC are in order. Back in our vehicle we are approached by a guard who has what at first seems like an unusual request. Apparently, it is a novelty but he wants to exchange some foreign currency with us. I think it is a nice gesture which sends all of us scrambling to see if we have the currencies he is looking for.
My confidence in our van navigating this new path falls a little when we all have to bail out because we just got stuck in sand.
With a shovel and some wood from a nearby construction crew we are soon back on the road again.
From this point it is about a 100 mile mountainous journey along a mostly gravel path to our final destination for the night. The scenery here is unbelievable although the ride leaves much to be desired. This is really not suited for those that can easily get car or motion sickness.
Around one hairpin curve to another we are soon thousands of feet from were we started. With one mistake we could easily return there although it would not be pretty.
The real first highlights of my trip is when we make a stop at a popular scenic lookout point. The weather is so beautiful that I can clearly see our destination although it is still about sixty miles away.
Although they are here to sell tourist merchandise I still get the opportunity to interact and laugh with them as if we were just old friends hanging out. For me, this is the joy of traveling even if the experience is only a passing moment.
More driving and we make a lunch stop that becomes another of those wonderful traveling experiences for me. This time I actually get to be in the kitchen as our meal is being freshly prepared.
In the early afternoon we reach our destination, Mt Everest Base Camp, one of the main reason I have made this journey. Standing at over 17,000 feet, it is a breathless view of the highest point on the planet although I am a bit disappointed that the camp itself is littered with trash.
After settling into our “Yak” tent home for the night, we pay an extra fee and take a bus to a point that will give us a more spectacular view than the ones we have already been fortunate to witness. As we exit the bus for a short climb to this scenic point we are given a few rules courtesy of the nearby military guards. We can take pictures but interestingly they must not include any national flags.
No doubt we could not have asked for nicer weather as our group of five capture the moment of a dream that has come true for all of us.
As we make our way back to the bus stop I begin having shortness of breathe my first experience of altitude sickness. Back at camp I begin a search for our driver who has our supply of oxygen locked up in the van. He is nowhere to be found.
Fortunately, my experience is not an uncommon one here at 17,000 plus feet so portable oxygen in a can is available for sale.
As night falls a yak dung fire is lit in a stove in the middle of the room.
Dinner is prepared using this fire then more dung is used to heat our open air room. However, it is still beginning to get colder as I now have from the van a pillow filled with oxygen.
I am still not sure how I made it through the night although I knew I had to keep drawing on my pillow oxygen. Some time during the night I remember seeing flashlight beams dancing around inside our tent and hearing voices. In the morning I learned that for some reason a military guard or two had come into our tent and there was some discussion with the tent owner. I am glad I slept through all of it.
The dawn of the rising sun is a welcome sight as a few of us stumble out of our tent in the freezing morning air to experience the sunrise over Mount Everest. On this particular morning words could hardly describe the magnificent and awesome feeling as we stood there watching the night sky disappear.
Truly, a dream come true.