It’s been over 2 years since STAT has taken it on the road but this journey was worth its wait in gold. It exceeded all expectations. As expeditions go, this one can be divided into three sections, as our guide Johan Ernst the explorer extraordinaire has described to us 11 strong trekking ladies. The first is when you plan, dream, train, prepare and organize. Next is when you live in the moment with the adventure while exploring and experiencing the incredible scenery and challenging high altitude terrain. Only then can we take the memories home with us which is where we learn to share and understand the life changing adventure to the Top of the World.
Sharing the road with many kindred spirits, it took all of our energy to rally every day for our endless walks on well-worn trails. Each hike filled our hearts and souls with new energy, insights, friends and knowledge. Nothing makes you grow as a human more than stepping outside your comfort zone. It’s a part of our evolution to walk into uncomfortable situations. And that’s the beauty of a STAT trip… to grow and develop.
From the moment we landed in Kathmandu, we hit the spiritual ground running visiting holy sites, receiving monk blessings and tasting local nepalese cuisine. We met our sherpa team and sparingly repacked in our custom yellow duffel bags for the donkey’s trek ahead. And just like that an early morning helicopter departure whisked us away into the Himalayan mountains.
The extraordinary trail from Lukla over the river and through the woods to Goyko was a very well-executed acclimatizing accent to the top of the world in 7 days. But, arriving into the thriving “big village” of Namche for 2 nights in between was the highlight of the trek!
Not only was it our shopping opportunity but a beauty parlor stop for Ali’s blow out…an unexpected perk in the middle of roughing it, and a farewell to Christy as we headed towards the dividing point between those going to Everest Base Camp or with us to Goyko at 16,000 feet. Only 3 superstars made it to Goyko Ri at 17,500 feet on the last morning at sunrise, headlamps and all.
Altitude is real and my headache was fierce. Staying hydrated and moving slow while taking it all in was the key to success. We were all in this together and feeling good was high on our radar so we were sad to lose Tracy for a day to mountain sickness.
We practiced yoga whenever we could, made time for a group meditation with Pema, our very own (retired) Buddhist monk, and even took advantage of our own traveling massage therapist. And then it was canasta time after a long day on the trail.
This was hard hiking, but there was no rush as we had all day to get from lodge to lodge and we left early enough to make it before dark. One foot in front of the other was our mantra!
Conversations about love and life were as therapeutic as it gets at every turn in the awe-inspiring scenery. It rained, sleeted and snowed but there’s no such thing as bad weather if you are prepared. It was all part of the journey and we were ready to receive especially on departure day…the clearest weather day of all… as we were lucky to heli around Everest at 29,000 feet en route back to civilization.
I feel deeply honored to have experienced this part of the world with this special group of handpicked ladies. We felt our strength in numbers and our resilience in spades. This trip of a lifetime will forever live in our souls way after our return to normal life. I loved that we ended up in Dwarikas shangri-La village resort for our last stop in paradise together to sit in both a salt and crystal cave, to enjoy therapeutic singing bowls, chakra therapy and even see a ayurvedic medicine doctor.
It was a perfect ending to the rigor of the trek and the beginning of an appreciation of our life going forward in a new direction. The memories we created and the intentions we set together in the Himalayan mountains is a bond that will never be broken. Kudos to Johan for taking on his first all female group, for all his philanthropic work in Nepal and beyond, and for bringing us into his orbit.
The stories will keep us entertained for decades or until we meet again.