It’s all very well to think about things and make plans, however my trip has a very large element of physical activity and I needed to be prepared. Everyone I’ve ever spoke to who has trekked to Everest Base Camp says it’s tough … really tough. The reason I thought I could do it was because on the expedition blurb it says: “This trek is suitable for those who are new to trekking, and for more experienced walkers wanting to visit the Himalaya. To get the most out of the trek you need to be healthy and have a good level of overall fitness. You should be able to walk with a light rucksack for seven to eight hours in a day in the UK, or on similar gently rolling terrain.”. That doesn’t sound too bad – right? It is also a slower ascent than other treks and we get to stop off for a few days for the Research people to present their findings to the Sherpa community. I was healthy, had started classes at the gym in the summer and was walking where I could, but I wasn’t getting the time to go on long walks to work on my stamina so I needed to address that.
My new year’s resolution was to try to do one long walk every weekend, on varied terrain, and build up week by week so that by March I would be able to walk for seven to eight hours. Simples. I was quite excited to do my first walk and set off to a country park close by where I’d scoped out a 10k trail. It was a beautiful day and off I started, map on my ipad round the lake and then up into the woods. On New Year’s Eve I had got chatting to some friends of my sister, Helen and Richard, and it turned out that they were also planning to trek to Base Camp. I was walking down a track, trying to fathom my map, and who should I see but Helen and Richard out walking their dog! We started talking about possible training walks to do and they suggested a very big hill in the vicinity where you can do a circular walk. I had wanted to go there anyway so we arranged to do it together later in January. Life is full of happy coincidences, and I was very glad to bump into them because walking up a big hill is always better when you’re with someone.
It was the inauguration of my new jacket I had received for Christmas – a bright yellow affair boasting that “No ducks were harmed in the making of this product.”. My sister Catherine said I looked like a Minion in it when I had the hood up – cheers sis! Everyone who knows me knows that I am partial to the cold (not great when I’m going somewhere where it can get down to -15 degrees) however the terrain of the park was a bit up and down in places, and soon I was getting a bit warm. In the end I had to take my jacket off and ended up, much to the bemusement of the strolling dog-walkers wrapped up in their coats, scarves, hats and gloves, doing the rest of the walk in a t-shirt – in January!
It was as I came to the end of a track where it crossed a path that I saw a man with a dog opposite, who said to me: “Feel free to break into a canter now”. What a strange remark, but then I realised that I had been walking down a bridle path. Note to self: refrain from walking down bridle paths for fear of getting trampled by marauding horses and receiving odd remarks from strangers. I decided to use him to help me work out where to go next, as I was still having trouble with the map. He duly pointed me down the right path and it was at that point I realised I was doing the trail backwards. I don’t think there is an actual start and end point, because it is a circular loop that loops in on itself, so when I got back to where I started I turned round and walked back the way I came, this time following the markers and navigation was a lot easier! I ended up doing more than 10k, as I did the long loop twice, and was out for over 2hrs. Not bad for my first outing.