Some time between when the movie was released and now, I began a Bucket List. Very similar to the movie, my quest for adventure, fun, and seeing the world has been closely tied to this evolving list.
One major item was Everest Base Camp (number two on the list, actually, preceded only by running a marathon). A good friend and I decided this was the next item to ‘cross off’ the list, so we researched and booked the trip.
Having done a fair amount of international travel in the past, traveling to Nepal wasn’t terribly concerning or overwhelming. We flew to Kathmandu, then on to Lukla with our tour company; from there we began the hike. Little did I know an adventure awaited.
The hike was 11 days, 90 kilometers, 5364 meters at peak altitude, and near freezing most nights. Tougher than I anticipated, I was grateful for life’s little pleasures. Hot Lemon (basically warmed sugary lemonade), bucket showers, hot hand warmers and a great travel partner helped me face each day with a smile.
In a little town called Dingboche on Day 7 (at 4530m), we went to a cafe and overheard people discussing an avalanche on the Annapurna Circuit. Little was known, as word travels slow on the mountain and the Internet was inaccessible at the time. We informed our guide after returning to the teahouse (our accommodation) that afternoon, and then began to think about the rest of our hike.
I spoke to my parents in Canada from Dingboche, then Internet was unavailable at higher altitudes. I chronicled my climb with photos and admired the view around each bend.
Having reached Base Camp on October 17 (2014), we continued as planned to descend rapidly in order to catch our international flights home. Our first night was planned for Pheriche (4243m), where we accessed Internet for the first time in 4 days. Signing in to Facebook (that’s where people always go first, right?), I saw for the first time the magnitude of the avalanche that had happened several days prior.
Posts of “Kelly, are you safe?” and “please post as soon as you get this,” and people trying to pinpoint where I was last located compared to the location of the avalanche. My father called the Embassy trying to get more information, concerned I was missing or hurt, or worse. I called home as soon as I saw the magnitude of anxiety.
At current count there are 39 hikers, guides and porters dead. The worst mountaineering tragedy in Everest history. We hadn’t heard a word about it on the mountain.
Having been completely safe throughout the hike, an event like this really makes you think and appreciate how lucky you are to still be on this Earth. My father’s wavering voice when he spoke to me for the first time after the accident really hit home. The people who comment online about your whereabouts, the emails hoping for a response; it is difficult to understand what these people went through when thinking the worst may have happened.
I am now safe at home sitting by my fireplace, drinking tea and appreciating life a little more tonight. I am so grateful for the ability to travel, the ability to see the world, and am very appreciative that I have returned home safe and sound once more.
Photos are by Kelly Jones – All Rights Reserved
Guest Author Bio
An avid traveler, always seeking completion of the next “Bucket List” item. Registered Nurse, crazy cat lover, chocoholic.
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