Huddled around the dining room table last night, our Sherpas and Porters entertained us with a trekking song involving lots of hand motions. They are all so sweet and work so hard. I can barely keep my eyes open and they are busy serving us, smiling and singing after carrying 40# loads and our backpacks up the mountain during the day.
Today is the pinnacle…highlight…zenith…culmination…and crowning point…of the trek. Annapurna Base Camp. We’ll have to leave by 8:30 am for this last push up from Machapuchhre Base Camp (MBC) 3,600m/11,811′ to Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) 4,100m/13,451′. The highest altitude in this trip. But first, the daily struggle to put in contact lenses with no light. All of you perfect vision people just don’t appreciate perfect sight! Followed by the line in front of the smelly, squat toilets. Even with all the drawbacks, I still prefer teahouses/lodges to a tent.
Breakfast! ex-Marine and I have never eaten so much on a trek. We’re usually the cookie/biscuit with coffee types from altitude sickness, but no problems on this trek. Big apple pancakes here and the large pot of coffee turned out to be a huge tea kettle filled with coffee. Enough for four people. Stoked up and wired, we headed out on the trail for the steady ascent through the sanctuary to Annapurna Base Camp. A unbelievably beautiful and sunny day as we set out on the trail. All the mountains are out and the higher we climbed, the more mountains came into sight. Elevan giants made this a very special day.
Through meadow type grass, we heard the thunk-thunk-thunk of a helicopter coming from Advanced Base Camp to evacuate someone.
A backward glance at Machapuchhre Base Camp below us, and we struggled on…
The trail wasn’t especially steep but tough because of the altitude. No stopping…no resting…trudging through the wide open sanctuary in one fell swoop. As we got closer, we saw three Nepalis race up the side of a mountain to the right of us. As we got closer still, they ran back down to greet us. They were our porters come to cheer us on. Two hours and twenty minutes (not that we’re anal) after starting out from MBC, there it was. Annapurna Base Camp. And we were the first ones today!
It’s impossible to describe the joy and elation felt. I immediately burst into tears, overcome with emotion and even though I’m not very religious could only think…”I will lift up mine eyes to thee oh Lord.” Easy to understand why the Nepalis consider Machapuchhre a “holy mountain” and Annapurna a Goddess. Surely, this is the place where all the gods reside. Another half-hour and the rest of the group came in sight. Lyn and I had another good cry together filled with relief, exhaustion, and overwelmed by the beauty of the area.
The magnitude of Lyn’s accomplishment just goes to show what determination can do. This was her first trek and although fit, neither Lyn (nor any of us) were close to Thea’s caliber of fitness. Thea is a personal trainer in South Africa and was going on to Vietnam to participate in a bicycle race after this trek! Now that is fit…