About MeHi, I'm Liz. If this is your first time here be sure to check out my About Me page. Also, be sure to sign up to get updates via e-mail using the form below.
Connect With Me!
Want More Travel Stories?Like reading Traveling Liz? Want to see more fun posts about travel? Want to buy me a beer? Please consider donating a small amount to help support the site and my RTW trip:
About L’appel Du Vide
There exists a psychological phenomenon in which perfectly sane people, with no desire to die, find themselves faced with a steep cliff and experience a strong desire to leap. To jump from their safe vantage point into the unknown. This phenomenon is so common in fact, that the french have a term for it: L’appel du Vide – Call of the Void.
Read more here.
This is day 7 of my Everest Base Camp Trek. For the full series click here.
From Leboche, the hike to Everest Base Camp would be 5.5 hours with another 2.5 hours after that before we reached our overnight. It would be our longest day of hiking so far and we would reach our peak altitude of the trek. It promised to be both an exhausting and exhilarating day. In order to ensure we would reach Base Camp before the weather turned, we left early at around 6 am.
We stopped at Gorek Shep at 10:30 to eat an early lunch. I could feel my body giving up. I was exhausted physically and mentally and I felt the beginnings of a strong throbbing headache. Nothing on the menu looked even slightly appetizing but I was worried that I needed to eat for the 5 hours of hiking we had ahead of us. I finally decided that I could manage a plate of french fries and was dismayed when my order arrived. Instead of french fries I was given a large plate of mashed potatoes that I was positive I couldn’t eat.
All the sudden it was too much. My head was killing me. My muscles were tired and I hadn’t had a good night sleep in days. I excused myself, headed outside, sat on a wall and cried. Absolutely sobbed. I knew without a doubt that my potato related breakdown was ridiculous and crazy but I couldn’t stop. It was at the time, one of most upsetting things I could imagine. Even hours later when I had recognized the absurdity, I still got a little emotional when the incident was brought up.
When I finally pulled myself together I was sitting alone in the cold bright sun. I bemused yak watched me from about 10 feet away. My head felt a little better and I knew that I had it in to me to get through this french fry situation. I didn’t know if I would make it to Base Camp, but at the very least that I, Liz Bird, would conquer her potato issues. I felt slightly better. I felt even better when I returned to the tea house to see that Shannon and Marten had removed the offending plate and replaced it with a fresh batch of my desired food. Yes, things were looking up.
Having overcome one personal obstacle, it didn’t seem that anything could stop me. Kidding. Obviously. I still was terrified of the hike ahead and had about 0% confidence we were capable. Our group really was fitting the definition of rag-tag with Shannon’s hacking cough and congestion, my headache and newly acquired food related psychosis, and Marten’s… well no Marten was doing just great. We hated him. Even our guide was sick – he had had congestion and been running a fever for the past two days and as he started to lag we urged him to stay behind and rest. Luckily our porter had come along and he was able to lead us the rest of the way.
Luckily the hike from Gorek Shep to Base Camp isn’t terrible. The three hours is spent mostly on gradual inclines as you ascend to around 5,300 meters. I could feel my headache getting worse and my breathing was becoming difficult, but I was enthusiastic about reaching base camp and adrenaline did its part to keep us going. We kept up a steady pace and only stopped a few times to snap photos. Pretty soon we could see the tents and flags in the distance (normally there wouldn’t be tents in October but there were this year for some reason) and for the first time, I realized we were going to make it.
As we all things like this, reaching Everest Base Camp was about the journey, not the destination. It was exciting to see the sign declaring we had arrived and we had a good time snapping photos and looking around, but for the most part we were just proud we made it. We hugged and high fived and then we turned back. It felt good to have reached our goal – we had done it. I let the relief flood through me and I tried not to think about the four day hike back still in front of us. For now, we just needed to focus on the three hours back to Gorek Shep.
As the excitement of reaching base camp faded, I realized that my headache had only gotten worse. It was throbbing throughout my head to the point that as we walked further it was the only thing I could think about. Step. Throb. Step. Throb.
I was freezing and tired but the headache eclipsed everything. I could feel myself start to stumble and I knew Shannon was also suffering. Her coughing was getting worse and she mentioned a headache. We didn’t stop even once – it was easier to keep walking – hoping that reaching Gorek Shep would somehow make us feel better. When we finally did reach our teahouse, all I could manage to do was lie down on a bench, close my eyes and hope the throbbing ended soon.
It was over. We had done it.