Couple of weeks ago, we did one of the things we never imagined we would be able to accomplish. We did a 14 day trek in the Himalayas to Everest Base Camp in Nepal. During those 14 days there were many emotions and deep thoughts that went through our heads and hearts. It was a time of reflection and time to organize our lives. Here are some of thoughts we would love to share with you:
1) Let the spontaneity of life surprise you with great adventures !
We knew that Mt. Everest was in Nepal, what we didn’t know was that there were 2 options to see it: 1) Take a mountain flight and see the Himalayas and Mt. Everest from a airplane window, or 2) Do a 14 day trek around the Himalayas with a bonus of flying into one of the most dangerous airport in the world. We always thought that to see Everest was something simple as driving into a National Park and having it from a viewpoint easily lay out to tourists. And who wants to see the greatest range of mountains on earth from an airplane window? So we really had one option…and waiting for us was one of our greatest challenges yet. Life sometimes has unexpected ways to present you with an adventure, embrace it and be thankful.
2) Don’t think about it too much, do it. That’s how you overcome fear.
So here was the problem: we both never went trekking for so long in our lives, we aren’t even nature people to start with…but our biggest fear: mountain flight to Lukla. National Geographic has rated as the world most dangerous airport, and reading about the flight didn’t help much. The last accident killed 18 on board and it was in 2014! As we read more, we found out that pretty much there has been 1 fatal accident a year! At this point we didn’t even need to discuss about doing the trek, because the obvious answer would be NO! But somehow we just walked into the agency handed our credit card to book the flight, done. It was that easy to overcome our fears…for 2 minutes. There is no specific formula, fear is the line that divide mediocrity and greatness, all of you have to do is just step into greatness.
3) Instead of struggling with fear, embrace it.
We decided to buy the plane tickets so we wouldn't back out. Not a chance we would waste those precious USD 400, especially now that we are traveling the world. We never felt so scared and overwhelmed with fear, we didn't talk about it too much, but we felt each other's anxiousness. A night before we called our families thinking it could've been our last calls, but instead of sharing our worries, we assured them we were excited to be challenged with one of the greatest adventure of our lives. It reminded us again, and gave us clear vision of the important things in life. Although at first we were overwhelmed by fear, by embracing fear, it actually enhanced and gave us a clear vision of how we wanted to live life.
4) Accept the probability of failure.
We live in a world where failure is still viewed as shameful, we need to start viewing failures as partial victories instead of losses. By signing up for the trek, we knew that the probability of seeing the Himalaya mountain range with a clear sky would be very low. August is monsoon season in Nepal, which makes very bad season do trek the mountains, sometimes Mt. Everest can be covered with clouds for days or even weeks ! Not only that, we had in mind that physically we might not able to make the whole trek, since we never walked for so long, not to mention the possibility of altitude sickness. Regardless of the low chance of having a "successful" trek, we really wanted to experience being surrounded by the highest mountains on this earth together. For us just by being present at that location together was a victory, everything else that would come would be a bonus, which actually put us back in a very good position for "success".
5) Accept your limitations, and build a positive team that can help reach your goal.
Just the fact that doing anything with an awesome group of people is more fun should be enough excuse to be part of a team. The trek route to Everest Base Camp is very laid out, and with the detailed maps, hardly anyone can get lost. Even with the possibility of doing the trek by ourselves, we decided to hire a guide to help us better navigate and more importantly to share some stories while at it. The presence of a guide is not necessary, but it will definitely enhance your experience. A funny thing happened, as we trek along the path a group of tourists passed us by all exciting shouting how Mt. Everest was right in front them, our guide discreetly smiled and told us: "that's not Mt. Everest". Sometimes we assume we can do it all, but accepting our limitations and knowing that the best decision sometimes is by sharing a goal with team, it is definitely an important factor to help you reach your goal.
6) The higher and further you go, the more vulnerable you are.
The Khumbu region where the Himalaya mountain range is located is a very remote place. There are no roads and everything needs to be carried by people. To get to Everest Base Camp it takes about 6-7 days because one needs to acclimatize to the high altitude. As we treks further our first thoughts were: "we cannot afford to get sick now", but as the trek elevated more and more to higher altitude and further into the valley we became more susceptible to get sick. It's a risk you have to be willing to take, if you want to reach a goal. The further, the higher, and the faster you go up, more vulnerable you are. Doesn't mean it is a bad thing, it just means you have to face the consequences.
7) Have the vision, but more importantly take the small steps.
Thinking about the amount of days we had to trek was no help. Looking at the range far in the back that sometimes sneaked out of the clouds to give us a preview was a reminder that if we worked ourselves up we could experience something amazing. Everything seemed so far away, to start with the steep heel right in front us. As we took the small steps carefully looking the ground to make sure your steps are stable, when we least expected we were on top of the hill. This was pretty much the system we took, we look above to make sure we were going into the right direction, but more importantly was the small steps we were taking. Each step meant we were close to our goal, and each safe step was the assurance that we would safely arrive at the destination. Don't lose your vision, but the key is not to stop taking the small steps. When you least expect you will be on top.
8) It's not a race to the top, so take your time and go on your own pace.
As we trekked along the main trail, we met some other tourists that were heading the same way as us. This meant that we would meet each other at the end of the day on the same village. Most people walked faster than us, but at the end of the way we all arrived at the same place. Getting to the village first didn't involve any privilege, as pretty much it was a rest stop, so you can recoup your energy to hike next day. Like trekking, we don't need to rush, actually is better to just go on your own pace or else you might risk a injury. Take your time, it's okay, we will all arrive there one day and while at it enjoy the moment.
9) Reaching the goal is only half way.
The easy question is how you will reach your goal. The hard one is what happens after ? Even though it was hard for us, our enthusiasm and excitement to reach Everest Base Camp was sufficient to gives the energy to reach it. Every day was exciting, we knew where we had to go, we had a daily goal and meeting that goal felt very good. The good hormones kicked in as soon as we checked-in into the next village, and it was like that until the climax of reaching Everest Base Camp. If felt really good. The problem started after reaching our goal. It was just downhill, which actually was even harder to trek. Our bodies and knees started feeling the pain, and we were literally dragging our bodies. There was not a goal, it was pretty much "walk as much as possible to get home as soon as possible" feeling. All we wanted to do is just get back home, have a simple hot shower, and eat something warm. We eagerly wanted to back to tell our friends and family that we were okay, and share our story. Going up to the top is only half way, how you manage the "downhill" is probably the most important and difficult part.
10) The simple things that matter.
At the end, for us it was more important coming back home. Of course it is awesome to have made to Base Camp, but we think it is even more awesome to be able to come back and share the stories with our loved ones. Never before we were so thankful and humbled by the things we have, and the every day life we share with our friends and family. Doing the trek really made us think about the simple things in life that is so essential: hot showers and a nice cooked meal. Maybe that's where the secret to the meaning of life lies.