5 things I wish I knew before hiking to Everest Base Camp
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I've done a lot of epic things in my life thus far, but hiking to Everest Base Camp has been the most profound. It's been over 2 weeks since I've arrived home and I still haven't fully gotten back into the swing of things. Everything at home seems to be too much. Too overwhelming. Too loud. Too fast. On the trail everything is simple, calm, and you’re only doing the necessities. Nepal is like no other place I've ever visited, and a part of my heart will remain in those mountains forever.
With that being said, there are a few things I wish I had known before hopping on that plane to Lukla. Little things that I think others would find helpful along their journey.
What I wish I knew before hiking to Everest Base Camp: Don't eat the Meat
I love meat. I'm sorry if you feel I shouldn't, but for me it's the best part of any meal. Yes, there is meat along the trail, but where is it coming from?
Most of the meat you’ll find on the Everest Base Camp Trek gets carried in. If you’re on day 1 or 2 of the trek, you should be OK as most supplies and food get carried in from Lukla - where most hikers start their journey.
Luckily, I got this Everest Base Camp tip early on and I didn't eat any. I overheard stories of people getting food poisoning several days into their trek and it completely ruined their adventure. Can you imagine vomiting for a few days at altitude? It sounds like a nightmare.
My advice is bring things like beef jerky, salmon jerky, or anything that's going to help supplement that protein loss in your diet. I had a small bag of beef jerky, but it only lasted until day 8 (of 12) and I really wish I had a second bag.
The same can be said for dairy. You don't know where it's coming from or how long it's be sitting. Boy did I miss cheese! At the end of the journey, I ate a pizza. It was the best pizza I’ve ever eaten because I missed cheese so much - in reality it was a mediocre pizza. 12 days of hiking to and from Everest Base Camp will do that to you.
What I wish I knew before hiking to Everest Base Camp: The terrain was moderate, but the trek was mentally difficult
I don’t think most people go into an epic trek like Everest Base Camp thinking it’s going to be easy. (At least I hope not!) Every hiker should train for being at altitude by doing plenty of cardio and strength training. I personally recommend practicing yoga to anyone who hikes on a regular basis or is in training.
Many of the days on the way to Everest Base Camp are what is known as "Nepali Flat.” This loosely means rolling hills and lots of them. There were only a few strenuous uphills that I thought would never end, which is strange considering how high up into the clouds the trek take you. However, the trek was a mental challenge. Hiking for 12 days can be difficult back home in Vermont, but add altitude into that and you've got a mental game like no other.
I found that hiking and chatting helped with this at times. Or, if I didn't want to talk, knowing someone had my back made all the difference. There were a few days I hiked in silence and cried. I didn't think I was going to be able to make it to the next village. The afternoon we headed to EBC I hiked with my friend Angie. Neither of us spoke much with the occasional, "We can do this." We traded leading positions often. Knowing she was there helped me get to EBC. Upon arrival, we burst into tears.
read more: Tips for Backpacking in Southeast Asia
What I wish I knew before hiking to Everest Base Camp: Bring small Nepali bills
Whether you get cash from an ATM or money exchange you get big bills - 1,000 and 500 rupees. Once you get on the mountain those bills are very difficult to change.
Do yourself a favor and while shopping or eating in Kathmandu use your larger rupee bills to pay for items and keep the smaller notes to bring on the trek. If you don’t do this you’ll end up having large bills during the hike and you won’t be able to use them.
What I wish I knew before hiking to Everest Base Camp: Items I should have brought with me
I'm pretty good when it comes to packing light. On this trip there were a few things I wish I had brought with me.
Thera Flu: Someone brought a nasty cold with them on the trip and everyone got it. Need I say more?
Multiple Buffs: I had 2 I wish I had at least 1 more. They became very smelly.
More wet wipes: I ran out around day 9...things got a little gross after that.
Throat Lozenges: With the cold going around and it being dusty this would have made my throat so happy.
Extra bandana: They can be used for anything. I use mine as a handkerchief.
What I wish I knew before hiking to Everest Base Camp: Swearing
Confession, when I'm not working, I have a foul mouth. Some of my favorite words can't be used in mixed company. Swearing in Nepal, any swearing, is very rude. We learned this pretty quickly seeing the shocked looks on our Nepali trail family's faces. Be courteous and keep the swearing to a minimum.