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Chapter 23: Boarding Gate to Everest - open

Updated: Sep 28, 2019


I’m sitting here looking at my autumn garden as the heavens open, and there is even a thunder clap (only one - what?). It is all very peaceful and serene listening to the sound of the rain. I guess it is the stillness before the storm for me (so to speak). There is so much I want to say in this blog and talk about but this blog will turn into a novel. Counting down to my departure date, the months ticked by quickly and all of a sudden I am down to single digits -

7 days - one week from today!! It all became very real very quickly.

I have been struggling with injuries in the past month (on and off) and the hardest lesson I had to learn was to REST. Now that is easier said than done. Those who know me well, know that I can not really sit still. I’m a busy bee, and when I have a goal or target, I’m all in, no compromise. To be fit and physically prepared to climb any mountain or to do any physical challenge is in your capable hands, it is easy and very simple, what you put in is what you get out. When you are injured (in my case it is my EDS, mainly my joints or muscles surrounding my joints), training becomes interesting. The best medicine is to REST, give it time to heal. "WHAT?" “ Rest?" "Give it time?” "You mean, take a break from training for the biggest physical challenge of my life? This is time sensitive and and and…” The reality is that if you are injured you can’t do a thing about it but to accept it and roll with the punches or you’ll make it worse. I get that now - the muscle memory it there. To reach your goal and target, any training program must have REST days build in. Rest is for my off days, but work in extra rest time for injury-rest, it is not on the list - my list. I’ve learned that rest is physically necessary so that the muscles can repair, rebuild and strengthen. I forced myself to build in rest days in my schedule over the past 3 months. It is all good to rest. 

To deal with the mental side of my training was the hardest part over the past year. But try telling your mental side that all will be good when you are at home making lists, packing and unpacking again, having coffee and doing the normal day-to-day chores, when you are suppose to train. Be STILL Janettie. Be still! The past 2 weeks were rest weeks. I’ve learned to take things as they come. My life over the past year was very unpredictable to say the least, but everything happens for a reason. I strongly believe that. It was in the rest times when I was forced to take stock, experience what I’m doing and not just be on autopilot as I can very easily be that when I’m focused. To enjoy the journey and see how amazingly far I have come. So here I am. I had a Bootcamp session after 2 weeks off on Wednesday morning at 6am, and I go for short walks. It is official, I’m am ready!

I thought I’ll have some Q&A's I received via social media/ friends/ family;

Am I excited?

Yes, absolutely yes!! Without a doubt. It just has to come now as I feel ready. 

What am I looking forward to?

Seeing the mountains and ultimately EVEREST.

Reaching my goal.

New experiences - meeting a different culture, new people.

Nepalese food.

Sleeping in my cosy sleeping bag.

Taking millions of photos.

Crossing the suspension bridges.

Meeting a yak.

Flying to Lukla.

Being alone with my thoughts and spending time with God while viewing a piece of heaven.

What am I not looking forward to?

Obviously there are things I’m not looking forward to …. saying good-bye to Jacques and Jamie at the airport (knowing they’ll be super fine).

Being along - initially.

The unknown honestly. We all like our comfort-zone and mentally I’ve been prepping myself.

Using that flipping Sheewee - but I’m pretty confident that I’ve cracked the method and we all will be in the same boat anyway.

Flying to Lukla ;)

What is the distance I’ll be walking on the EBC trek?

The Everest Base Camp trek is a 130km round trip. Starting at Lukla.

What will be my highest altitude?

The trek starts from the lowest point at 2800m (Lukla). The highest point that I will reach is 5554m (Kala Patthar).

Where will you be staying during your trek?

At numerous “Tea Houses”. Teahouses vary slightly from region to region, but most are simple non-insulated stone and wooden buildings or huts that have a kitchen, a communal eating hall, bathroom area, and a number of basic bedrooms that usually have two single beds and a table. Most teahouses are built specifically for trekkers, but some, in the more remote regions of Nepal, may double as the family's home. The only room that is heated in a tea house is the communal area. The bedrooms are not heated. I will be provided with breakfast and dinner at a tea house.

What will you be eating on the trek?

I would like to answer this when I’m back, but from what I’ve heard ... Most tea houses offer a set breakfast which usually consists of toast, eggs, potatoes, and tea or coffee. In some tea houses you can get freshly made chapati instead of toast. Jam and honey are usually available. Porridge is another breakfast item, but the topping options become meagre as you get to higher altitudes. Fluffy pancakes - and over an inch thick. Sherpa stew is on nearly every menu, and each tea house has its own unique recipe. For lunch and dinner - potatoes, noodles, pasta, or rice. You can add vegetables (usually carrots and cabbage), eggs, cheese (yak), or any combination of these to your carb of choice. Dal Baht: rice, lentil soup, curried potatoes with veggies, greens, and a papad. The best part? You can get seconds of anything you want for free!

What will the temperature be like?

(Sept–Nov): The weather is generally very pleasant with very clear mountain views. Temperatures range from 23-25 Degrees Celsius. It is not monsoon.

Will I have showers?

That is to be seen … Most trekkers skip on showers during their trek, but some tea houses do offer hot bucket showers at a fee. Wipes, wipes, wipes.

Will you be able to follow me on my trek?

As I’m not guaranteed where I’ll have wi-fi, I will post a daily “What to expect” via Jacques. Maps, stats and photos. Please make sure that you have liked Zebra At Altitude on Facebook to receive my daily updates and follow me step by step on this trek. 

This will be my last blog before flying to Nepal on the 4th October. I want to thank you for reading my blogs and my updates on Facebook and all the messages and phone calls over the past year, and last but definitely not the least, your donations. I shared my story over the past year by putting it all out there (highs and lows) through my

*weight-loss ( ) 2 Oct - and reaching my goal on 2 Dec;

*health issues and diagnose ( ) and

*training ( ).

I hope and pray that somewhere out there I was able to make a small difference in someone’s life by sharing my story. Giving hope to someone is something we take for granted. I know by just receiving a message on Facebook it gave me hope - hope to pick myself up regardless of my physical and mental battles. If I can do this - everyone can. Never give up when things look gloomy or destined to fail, start by making a choice. A choice that will change your life forever. Choose to believe that you are worth happiness! You are worth following your dreams. Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tiptoe if you must, but take the step. And when you have a setback, take it on the chin. Don’t go back to old habits and go to that dark place - you are not a failure!! Face it head on and see the future ahead of you, not the past. You are indeed made for greatness.

To my fellow EDS zebras, we are different - different does not have to be a life sentence. Different can be good. Dazzle your world and the world around you with kindness and celebrate each other’s lives. I know I have a fraction of the pain and discomfort most of you have, but I believe whole heartedly that we all have our place on earth to inspire and support someone. 

I end this blog with the best way I know how and it is to thank God; my companion, my rock and healer, for the opportunity to follow this dream of mine. He sustained me in every possible way throughout this journey. My bones may be healthier, my muscles may be stronger, my body may be leaner and my mind may be clearer,  but my soul is overflowing.  Be thankful for what you have, be fearless for what you want.

We all have a story to tell. You are not a victim for sharing your story. You are a survivor setting the world on fire with your truth. And you never know who needs your light, your warmth, and raging courage.

Janettie xx

Just above Plan de l'Aiguille (2,317m), halfway up Aiguille du Midi (3,842m). I chilled out here dreaming of one day seeing Everest - never ever imagined that it will become a reality exactly 2 years later.

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