Back to base (basics) camp

It’s just over 50 days until I head back to Nepal. I’m off to base camp – again – booked on a whim last year when I needed some kind of incentive to get me off my butt and back into something resembling fit. I remember I made the booking (inadvertently) exactly six months before my departure date and now that date is racing towards me.

This time, however, I am not doing it alone. My friend L, an avid hiker, is also coming along. She’s in her 50s but has more experience carrying her own pack on treks (rather than having a lovely porter do it for me), and she runs, even when there are no bears chasing her. Like for fun. So, she’s likely in better shape than me several times over.

But, I did get off my butt four months ago, and I have walked at least once and usually twice a day almost every day. L and I did Kosciuszko summit late last year and this weekend I’ll head to the mountains for some day hikes with AJ. While part of me is already hating the idea of walking with a pack, it is the smart decision to actually do some training.

Training – blergh. I loathe this kind of commitment. I much prefer dragging my arse out of bed in the morning, throwing in my ear pods and smashing out kilometre after kilometre listening to podcasts. I could do that all day – packless. Put 3kg of water on my back, plus snacks, a rain jackets and other odds and ends and I feel my feet sinking into the concrete. Sigh. It has to be done.

There is definitely a sense of non-urgency for me surrounding this trip compared to last time. Understanding that most of this kind of hike is mental, I already know I can do it. I have done it. That’s not to say altitude might not smack me around this time, but knowing I can get there is really a big part of the battle for me.

Even on training hikes, the first time I ever hike a trail, I almost always cry. I cry because I’m not sure if I can or will make it. There’s a lot of fear about my own ability and capacity. Long or short trails, it doesn’t matter. I distinctly remember crying the first time I walked the Gap, Mt Solitary, Sublime Point, Corker – maybe not Mt Keira (but I was on a date). I cried on Mt Kilimanjaro, and even the last stretch down into base camp itself.

I put this down to a) not knowing how much further there is to go b) not trusting my body to hold out. The second time I do a trail, it’s always much easier. I am hoping that will hold true this time.

But, I am a bit over five years older this time around (39 compared to 33) and my left knee is pretty fucked. I really should go back to physio. If I am worried about anything, it is my knee.

Fortunately, I am pretty confident in my trekking operator, and the pace we can go. I know that if my knee starts to play up – which it will at some point during the 12 days – I can take a break, crack it, slap it, give it a shake and hope it holds up to the next teahouse.

I am excited to be able to share the experience with someone. There were so many occasions last time when I stopped to take in a breathtaking vista and wish I had someone, anyone, beside me to go “can you see that? Isn’t that the most insanely beautiful thing you’ve ever seen in nature?”. To have someone marvel with you that those peaks are another 3km above your head, to hear the thunder of a small (and safely distant) avalanche.

It’s an awe-inspiring place and I can’t wait to get back there.

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