There she is, my passenger pointed. A mighty white peak dominated the upper reaches of the sky without rival. I clutched onto the seat of our tiny plane as it bobbed in what seemed like deference to what the Nepalis call Chomolungma, what we call Everest, and what is the highest mountain in the world.
We were all onboard this Lukla flight for one thing and one thing only, an Everest base camp trek. Some had been training for years, some were eager to tick the ultimate challenge off their long list and some just wanted to see how high they could go. My aim was slightly different. I just wanted to get home in one (non-frozen) piece. I was joining a good friend, who’s something of an adventure travel nut, who assured me that with my so called moderate fitness and some training, I could join her on an Annapurna Base Camp Trekking Guide too.
The first day was all it took for any nerves to subside. Setting out, the sun was shining and the air was blue and mild with the taste of possibility. We met our team of porters and cooks who deftly took over our heavy bags and lightly hopped off into the distance. After them, we followed our guide Krishna, whose warm smile and sage-like knowledge of the mountains was all the assurance I needed. Our first steps were easy, as we tramped through green countryside, past wild flowers and occasional other walkers before we stopped for a picnic lunch by the banks of a stream. The afternoon was much harder, mostly because the route became steeper but also because our legs were already just a little tired. All our spirits perked up though when we found our first stop along the way, the lovely town of Namche that clings to the Himalayas and is known by travellers for its bread shops selling stodgy comfort food and vitalising snacks.
There’s a certain rhythm to trekking, I soon realised. You wake up, eat fuel and drink water, then you put one foot in front of the other until you think it’s no longer possible, and then you walk some more until you rewarded with spectacular views and a little sleep. Then you do it all over again.