“So… How Was Your Trip to Everest Base Camp?”

“So… How Was Your Trip to Everest Base Camp?”

It’s the sentence I’ve been hearing over and over again from friends, family and co-workers: “So… How was your trip to Everest Base Camp??”

Of course I’m not surprised that they’re asking me this, but every time I would hear it the first few weeks after being back home, I would tend to draw a blank.

Actual photo of what the inside of my brain would look like (jkjk, I did take this on the way back down though. COME ON.)

It’s been 3 weeks since I’ve returned from my trip of a lifetime and I’m finally feeling up to writing a bit about it.

Mary Anne’s a trooper and has been a lot more committed to working on HikeAddicts stuff than I’ve been lately. To be fair, she got home 4 days before me so has had a little more time to adjust… Okaaaay, weak excuse.

I have the tendency, like anything in my life, to avoid, avoid, avoid.

Avoiding trying to describe what it was like to go from full on adventures every day then back to reality.

Avoiding going through and editing my GoPro footage from the trip.

Avoiding writing here when I’ve had tons of friends and family asking me why I haven’t yet.

It was easier for me to throw myself back into work and start full on training for upcoming races I’ve signed up for. Part of my brain seriously doesn’t even believe we actually were in Nepal, climbing to Everest Base Camp.

Everest Base Camp.

It’s one of those things where you say it over and over, it starts to sound like nothing.

But it is something. A thing we friggin’ conquered. And the entire team made it, even though there were struggles with altitude sickness, flus, and injuries (old AND new). Not only am I proud of myself for accomplishing this feat, I’m damn proud of every single one of my teammates who toughed it out.

A very small part of the entire group but I’m not gonna lie, I like this pic more than the huddled up, blurry group shot of us all at base camp. SO, MOUNTAIN GAL PALZ.

The trek was one of the most challenging things I’ve done in my life for a lot of reasons. Compared to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, yes, the accommodations were easier to handle. We had roofs over our heads, running water (at some of the teahouses), we didn’t have to sleep on the ground and we even had a few opportunities to shower (BLESS).

BUT, it was a hell of a lot longer. Eight days compared to twelve is a lot when you’re talking 8-9 hour days of hiking, people.

Luckily, I enjoy hiking (duh).

That doesn’t mean that I didn’t have my moments in my head where I thought, “What the hell is wrong with me? Why am I here? What kind of person takes all of their vacation days in one go to go through this kind of torture?”.

Thank God those thoughts wouldn’t last for more than a couple minutes. Lovely.

Luckily, the wonderful moments outweighed the not-so-wonderful moments. Like, 10,000 to 1. Some of my all time favorite little nuggets include: learning about the significance of prayer wheels, running out of a tea house at night to dramatically whip around and see the incredible lit-up mountain view, and the exhilarating helicopter ride back up to base camp (oh, and the 20 minute adrenaline rush that followed it).

And now, after some time at home spending quality time with family and friends who I love (having word-vomited every single story I could think of), I’m finally feeling back to normal.

No more jet-lag or post-trip depression (IT’S A REAL THING, YOU GUYS).

No more daydreaming about being back on the mountain with my Dream Team, ordering apple-water-porridge for breakfast every morning and dal bhat for dinner every night (while calling out BB’s name just so we can hear him say “YES PEES”).

Bichitra aka BB aka our guide/angel on earth.

I’ve had time to adjust, reflect, go through allllll of my pictures and videos (some of which I literally have zero memory of taking- thanks, high altitude memory loss) and come back to reality.

I’m back in my normal jam packed schedule of work-running-football-cottage-reading-writing-yoga-hiking-patio-drinks life that I’ve built (and love!).

So, lately when people have been asking me “How was your trip to EBC?”, I feel like I can finally go from being completely overwhelmed and not knowing what to say to saying:

“It was easily the most incredible experience of my life.”

But in the back of my mind I’m thinking… What’s next?


Vicky Castledine

Vicky is a Content Marketing Manager from Monday to Friday and a trail runner/ book lover/ dog hugger/ wilderness explorer after 5 PM and on weekends.

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It’s incredibly hard to summarize a life-changing journey like Everest Base Camp in 11 points.  But it’s also hard to put the experience into words at all.

I spent almost three weeks traveling with 22 of the coolest human beings I’ve had the pleasure of meeting who also raised $140,000 for 7 different charities.  We spent 12 glorious days in the most beautiful place on earth.  Oh, and we ALL made it to Everest Base Camp.

The Dream Mountains team at Everest Base Camp – we did it!

Here are the top things I learned/wanted to share with you about hiking to Everest Base Camp:

  1. It’s hard not to fall in love with the people of Nepal.  They are welcoming, kind, spiritual and want to show off their beautiful country.  They also use “Namaste” as a greeting – how peaceful is that?

    This is our head guide BB. We could not have asked for a wiser or better soul to guide us to Everest Base Camp.
  2. The entire hike is a spiritual experience no matter your religion or background.  Prayer flags hang everywhere with their colours contrasting to the mountains.  Our guides and sherpa walk clockwise around the stupas/prayer wheels and advised us to the do the same so we would have good fortune on the mountain.  Between this and the scenery it’s hard not to feel more connected to your own version of “God”.

    Prayer flags everywhere.
  3. To start the hike we had to fly into the most dangerous airport in the world in Lukla (which sounds TERRIFYING).  The flight is actually not that scary considering these are some of the best pilots in the world.  In fact it was the most pleasant landing I have ever had in an aircraft.

    A look at the Lukla Airport runway. Yes the airplanes take off AND land on the cliff.
  4. We stayed at teahouses along the way which reminded me a lot of hostels in North America.  It felt luxurious compared to tent-camping in the mountains.  The food was quite good and we drank A LOT of tea. They also offered (at a cost) wifi, charging for electronics, Pringles, candy bars + more.  Keep in mind the higher you went the more expensive things were (a can of Pringles was $6 USD at 17,000 feet).

    A teahouse with a view.
  5. It is a tough hike and is hard on your body.  Some people suffered from altitude problems. Lots from gastrointestinal issues. Others cringed the entire way down due to knee problems.

    Kristi, Vicky and Heather crushing it.
  6. You will either love or hate helicopters by the end of the trip.  Helicopters were CONSTANTLY flying by us.  Some found them very distracting and ruined the scenery.  Others gazed in awe as they put our surroundings into perspective.

    Check out the view FROM a helicopter.
  7. You will pass hundreds of fellow trekkers/sherpa/animals carrying goods up and down the mountain.  It’s also a nice reminder to always let people pass you on the CLIFF side so you don’t get knocked off.

    The views just kept getting better.
  8. This question came up a lot from friends and family: “why didn’t you decide to summit Everest if you were already at Base Camp?”  Unfortunately it’s not that easy.  To summit Everest is at least $50,000+. You have to commit to being at Base Camp for a couple of months while you acclimatize and do acclimatization hikes up and down the mountain.  Oh, and you have to come to terms with your possible death.

    But seriously have you seen this view?
  9. The most surprising and ironic thing I learned: you don’t actually get a great view of Everest.  We were lucky enough to have great weather and views to get several glimpses of Everest. BUT you don’t see much more than the tip.

    The first time seeing Everest – just the tip.
  10. You will feel very, very small.  The Himalayas are the biggest mountains in the world (with 8 mountains over 8,000 metres or 26,500 feet).  Imagine the Canadian Rockies on steroids.

    I think Vicky likes mountains.
  11. But you will also feel more connected than ever.  Being away (most of the time) from social media and our phones, having distraction-free conversations, and having euphoric moments of bliss around every corner can make you feel ALIVE.

    My absolute favourite spot to take in my surroundings.

With all my hiking love….oh and Namaste,

Mary Anne

Mary Anne Ivison

Mary Anne loves hiking, mossy rocks and her gig as a radio personality. She is in pursuit of becoming an ADK 46er and touching every mountain on planet Earth.

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There are two major things I’ve learned from having a concussion:


1) It’s more common than you think.

2) No concussion is the same.


I’ve been struggling to write this blog for a while now.  But I wanted to share my story to be transparent and hopefully connect with others dealing with their own concussion.


I had mine on January 20th.  I’m at a point where I have more good days than bad days and symptoms don’t arise as frequently.  In comparison, my concussion was not that bad – I know people who can barely get out of bed for months, and still suffer years later.


Sooooo how did I get the most frustrating injury I’ve had in my life?


Eight weeks ago I went downhill skiing for the first time with two people I trust. On the last run on the last hill of the day, I confidently “bombed it” down the hill. From what I remember, I hit a patch of ice and fell face first into the ground and tumbled the rest of the way.  I laid face first in the snow and scanned my body to see where the pain was – it was all in my face and head.  I thought I had broken my nose as it was bleeding, and my face burned from skidding across the snow. At the moment my only worry was aesthetic damage and not the fact that my brain had just rattled inside of my head.

PRE-WIPEOUT: Having a great day with my friends.
POST-WIPEOUT: It looks like I had bad botox.

Symptoms started to arise as the day went on.  The headache and pressure got worse, I was dizzy and confused, and REALLY wanted to fall asleep. By midnight I was seeing a doctor at the emergency room who said I definitely had my ‘bell rung’, and would know if I had a concussion over the next few days. Despite the actual pain, the most worrisome moment was forgetting my dad’s first name (it was the security word at the hospital on my account).


Since then, here are the symptoms I have gone through…


Headaches: For the first month I always had a headache at varying degrees. Now they are less frequent.

Pressure: Predominently behind my eyes and in my forehead.

Feeling “drunk”: This is a combination of symptoms but the only way to describe it.  You know the part of the night after a few too many when your eyes don’t match up with your head? Like that.

Dizziness: This was only a problem at the beginning but I also get it on occasion while exercising.

Sensitivity to light/sound/smell: Yes, even smell. Walking by people smoking or with strong perfumes has given me headaches.

Emotional: It’s like PMS’ing 24/7.  I cried the other day because I dropped an egg on the floor.

Clumsiness: If you know me at all, being clumsy is part of who I am, BUT it has been 10x worse since the concussion.

Memory: I asked my boyfriend 5 times in 2 hours the other day when he’s going to Costco. Also I forgot where I was at the mall the other day.

Inability to read/write: This only happened for a couple weeks thank god. I would mix up letters and put words in the wrong order.

Ringing in my ears: I hear ringing in my ears almost every night when I lay down to go to sleep.



Luckily I’ve progressed thanks to the support of family and friends, plus the small village of health professionals who have helped me.  I know about SIX people who also have concussions right now, and have become our own little emotional support group. Without them, I wouldn’t have seen my physiotherapist who specializes in concussions or taken as much time to rest.


The BIGGEST factor that has been stressing me out? I’m supposed to go to Nepal on April 27th to hike Everest Base Camp with the Dream Mountains team.  Other than not being able to work out for six weeks, I’ve had moments where I didn’t think I would be able to go at all.  When you sink half a year into fundraising for an awesome charity, saving money to pay for the actual trip, and attaching your ego to an adventure of a lifetime, it’s crushing to think that this concussion could hinder that.


At this point I’m positive I will be better in time (so is my physiotherapist).  I’ve been cleared for exercise and have slowly been working my way back to normal activity and finding my threshold without symptoms.  Every day I wake up and move on with my day depending how I feel.  This morning I woke up with a headache, so I evaluated what could have CAUSED it and how to avoid it in the future.  I’m in full ‘self-aware’ mode at all times.


A few triggers of mine include:

  • Social activities with more than one person.  The stimulation of turning your head and following conversations is exhausting with a concussion.
  • Doing too much in one day.
  • Staring at screens for too long.
  • Being caught in a downward spiral of negative thoughts and anxiety.


Things that help:

  • Nature/fresh air/movement.  I feel normal and my absolute best when I’m going for a hike or cross country skiing (while watching my heart rate).  I’ve always believed that nature is healing.
  • Sleeping 9-10 hours a night.
  • Tylenol.
  • Drinking LOTS of water and eating right.


If there’s anything I can leave you with, it’s TAKE CARE OF YOUR BRAIN.  If you have a concussion, please be patient and kind with yourself.  If someone close to you has a concussion, understand that some days are worse than others and recovery time is necessary.


Lots of hiking love,

Mary Anne

Mary Anne Ivison

Mary Anne loves hiking, mossy rocks and her gig as a radio personality. She is in pursuit of becoming an ADK 46er and touching every mountain on planet Earth.

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Alright, so maybe we’re a challenging type of person to shop for around the holidays. We’ll be the first to admit it.

We know what we like to wear on the trails, have broken in multiple pairs of our go-to hiking boots, can be picky with food, have mastered the art of fitting everything perfectly into our day packs, and tend to get a little vocal when it comes to the “pole or no pole” debate.

So, what do you buy for the hiker in your life who seems to already have it all?

I’m here to help, my friends. Here’s a quick ‘n dirty list of some unique ideas that you may not have thought of…

1) Enamel Camping Mug

Hiker Gift Idea Enamel MugPhoto cred: Emalco.com

Even if your hiker pal already has one, you can never have TOO many mugs, right? Plus, it’s nice to change it up a little. So, why not support a local artist like Black Coffee or get a mountain themed one they’ll definitely dig?

OR, if you’re a crafty little rascal, make it EXTRA personal by designing your own! You can do this with a company like VistaPrint, although buying in bulk may be your only option.

Bonus points are rewarded if you add in a carabiner for clipping the mug somewhere handy for easy access!

2) Waterproof Lighter

Hiker Gift Idea Waterproof LighterPhoto cred: Pinterest

A friend of mine gifted me one of these bad boys last Christmas and it’s been in my pack since then. Here’s a list of the best ones on the market to check out for inspiration!

3) Subscription to Backpacker Magazine

Hiker Gift Idea Backpacker MagazinePhoto cred: Fontmeme.com

It doesn’t have to be Backpacker Magazine. It can be any outdoor, lifestyle or fitness magazine! This is the gift that keeps giving and your pal will think of you each time it comes in the mail.

4) Rent a Yurt

Hiker Gift Idea Rent a YurtPhoto cred: Mary Anne snagged this one!

If your budget is a little higher than the stuff listed above, then splurge and rent a yurt! SO FUN! If you’re like us HikeAdditcts, you prefer glamping over camping any day. This is a fantastic alternative to sleeping on the cold, hard ground while also feeling like you’re one with nature. Ommm.

We’ve stayed at some pretty beautiful spots over the years but I have to say that one of my all time favorites was a yurt in Vermont with this super adorable and accommodating family. It may not look like much from the outside, but the inside was like a magical fairy tail with tiny white Christmas lights galore!

5) Jack&Joel “Gatineau Park” Soap

Hiker Gift Idea Jack and Joel SoapPhoto cred: JackAndJoel.com


Jack&Joel is an Ottawa soap company and you know how much we LOVE supporting local! They have a wonderful line of soaps, bath salts and shaving products that will leave you smelling like nature-y dream.

6) Mountain Jewelry

Hiker Gift Idea Mountain Jewelry Photo cred: MMackenzieJones Etsy

We are huge fans of these mountain necklaces made by Mackenzie Jones Designs Inc from Calgary.  From the Three Sisters Mountain to Mount Rundle, the mountains will never be too far from your heart. Check out her Etsy store here!

And, if you don’t like any of these ideas or are still feeling unsure, you really can’t go wrong with a gift card for MEC, Trialhead, Cabela’s, Bushtukah, Ice Breaker, Eddie Bauer or any other sporting stores in Ottawa.

Happy shopping!

Vicky Castledine

Vicky is a Content Marketing Manager from Monday to Friday and a trail runner/ book lover/ dog hugger/ wilderness explorer after 5 PM and on weekends.

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Location: Jefferson County, NY
Starting Point: Wellesley Island Nature Centre
Route we took: Eel Bay Trail to Narrows Trail to South Bay Trail to East Trail to North Field Loop
Total Distance: 7 km
Time: 1.5 hours
Level of Difficulty: Super easy, hardly any elevation

Read more

Vicky Castledine

Vicky is a Content Marketing Manager from Monday to Friday and a trail runner/ book lover/ dog hugger/ wilderness explorer after 5 PM and on weekends.

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Location: In between Keene Valley and Underwood on the 73, NY, USA
Starting Point: Giant Mountain Primary Trailhead 
Elevation: Giant 4,626ft (#12 on High Peaks List)
RPR 4,390ft (#20)
Ascent: Giant 3,050ft
RPR 1,400ft
Route We Took: Ridge Trail to Giant Summit, to Rocky Peak Ridge, back to Giant and down Ridge Trail
Total Distance: 14 km
Time: 8 hours
Level of Difficulty: Moderate (compared to other High Peaks)

This was day 2 of my solo-hiking trip in the Adirondacks to crush out a couple more 46er peaks (the day before I did Cascade and Porter).

The terrain is pleasant to start to the ascent as you make your way through a typical whimsical Adirondack forest.  Then be prepared for lots of rocks and rock slides.  You reach a junction that either sends you to the Giant summit (SO CLOSE) or towards Rocky Peak Ridge.  I decided to summit Giant first.

It was manageable with a bit of scrambling.  The summit was quite busy but it was a beautiful and bright sunny day so it was easy to hang out for a while.

Panorama view from Giant summit.
An example of scrambling up Giant.

Then it was time for Rocky Peak Ridge.  After descending back to the junction, you take a left towards RPR.  At this point, you have to go DOWN Giant and BACK UP RPR. This was the steepest and toughest part of my 2 day hiking days.

Summit of Rocky Peak Ridge looking at Giant.

Rocky’s summit was a lot less busy and just as beautiful. It was even more rewarding seeing where you just came from as Giant is right in front of you.

The toughest part is getting back up Giant.  Since you’ve already put in a long day, the steepness and rock slides are that much more challenging.  But you can do it!

The view of getting back UP Giant from RRP.

Once you get back up Giant be prepared for the long descent back down.  These mountains are both worth it but make for a tough day.

Lots of hiking love,
Mary Anne

Mary Anne Ivison

Mary Anne loves hiking, mossy rocks and her gig as a radio personality. She is in pursuit of becoming an ADK 46er and touching every mountain on planet Earth.

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Location: In between Lake Placid and Keene, NY, USA
Starting Point: Cascade Mountain Foot Trail
Elevation:  Cascade 4,098ft (#36 on High Peaks List)
Porter 4,060ft (#38)
Ascent: 1,940ft
Route We Took: Cascade Mountain trailhead to Cascade summit, back down to junction, head to Porter summit, return to parking
Total Distance: 10 km
Time: 5 hours
Level of Difficulty: Easy (compared to other High Peaks)

This was my first attempt at climbing any of the Adirondack 46ers and heard Cascade and Porter combined are great “starter mountains” (even though Vicky and I did Mount Marcy last fall, we had no idea it was a 46er at the time).

Don’t be fooled by the easy ranking though, this is in comparison to the surrounding mountains.  Cascade is a perfect day hike and best “bang for your buck”.  It’s pretty, only takes half the day, not too tough and has spectacular 360 views when you get to the summit.

Porter isn’t exactly worth it unless you’re attempting the 46 peaks.

Lots of hiking love,
Mary Anne


(Top image view from Cascade summit)

View from Porter Mountain

Mary Anne Ivison

Mary Anne loves hiking, mossy rocks and her gig as a radio personality. She is in pursuit of becoming an ADK 46er and touching every mountain on planet Earth.

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Congratulations! This is your first step to becoming a HikeAddict. We love hiking, and the whole point of this blog is to share our love and passion for hiking with you. However, actually getting outside and actually doing it can be a bit intimidating. Here’s our “A Beginner’s Guide To Hiking” to help you get outside, connect with nature, and get some exercise in the process.

Where do I go?

I find this a big barrier for some people, where the heck do you start? It doesn’t have to be complicated, but you should have an idea where you’re going. Thank God for MAPS! Oh, and bring a buddy.

Here are some of our favourite beginner hikes in the Ottawa area:

Mer-Bleue Bog

Pine Grove Trail

Stony Swamp
Old Quarry Trail

Pink Lake Trail

Here’s also a list of our favourite hikes in Gatineau Park if you want to be a bit more adventurous: CLICK HERE!

What do I wear and what do I bring?

If you’re just starting out to see if hiking’s your “thing”, you don’t have to invest in $300 boots and merino wool (yet). Test out the trails with clothes you would wear to the gym – with a few extras.

Hiking Beginner Gear:

– Good, sturdy shoes or hiking boots
– Athletic socks
– Gym clothing or whatever you’re comfortable in (I would suggest long pants to help against bug bites/nature critters)
– Sunglasses
– Hat

When it comes to clothing be sure to check the weather before you go – a raincoat is something I usually carry!

Small Backpack to Hold The Following:

– Water (at least a litre, drink the whole thing!)
– Snack (nuts are great)
– Hand sanitizer
– Kleenex
– Bug spray or a natural repellent
– After-bite
– Sunscreen (apply before you go)
– Bandaids or small first aid kit
– Map (or your GPS on your phone)

Goodluck on your first adventure, and if you need anything don’t hesitate to email us at HikeAddicts@gmail.com!

Mary Anne

Mary Anne Ivison

Mary Anne loves hiking, mossy rocks and her gig as a radio personality. She is in pursuit of becoming an ADK 46er and touching every mountain on planet Earth.

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(This post is a continuation of HIKING THE BRUCE: Day 1 – Halfway Log Dump to Stormhaven)


With it’s stunning rock formations and Caribbean-like water, Bruce Peninsula National Park is one of the most beautiful destinations to hike to in Ontario.  Plus with it’s close proximity to Toronto and Parks Canada having free entrance for Canada 150, it’s one of the most popular.


My first attempt to park to get to the Grotto was unsuccessful (full story here) on Victoria Day long weekend.  Stupid on my part.  Obviously people would be swarming to this place to hang out on the first long weekend of nice weather in Canada.


So I got up early on Tuesday morning (with coffee of course) and headed to the Cyprus Lake parking lot for 7am.  Luckily and shockingly, there was only one other car there.  A.k.a. I had this extreme tourist destination pretty much to myself.

First glance at Indian Head Cove
This water though

After a quick 30 minute and well-marked hike, the trees opened up to expose the rock and bright blue colours of Georgian Bay.  You first end up at Indian Head Cove, which is NEXT to the Grotto (see map below).  A lot of people think this is the Grotto…. It’s not.  You have to head to the left for a couple of minutes to find it through more rocks and trees.


The Grotto

Once I found the Grotto, I  wondered “How the hell am I going to get down there?”.  There was no clear or safe path down, although on previous visits I have seen people inside the cave.


Thankfully, a man named Terry who works for Parks Canada was there to point me in the direction of “The Hole”.  The Hole is a safer and more direct way into the cave.  It’s a tad hard to find and I had to take my backpack off to squeeze through it.

“The Hole”

The squeeze through the claustrophobic hole was well worth it.  The Grotto opens up to a mesmerizing rock formation and green/turquoise waters.  Definitely one of those “I thought this only existed in magazines” moments.

Inside the Grotto

You can even swim here, however I wouldn’t recommend that until July/August. Even then it can be chilly!


I finished my coffee on the rocks overlooking the bay and soaked in the beautiful morning.  If there’s one road trip you should plan in Ontario it should be this one.

Lots of hiking love,

Mary Anne


(Find out more about Bruce Peninsula National Park here)

Mary Anne Ivison

Mary Anne loves hiking, mossy rocks and her gig as a radio personality. She is in pursuit of becoming an ADK 46er and touching every mountain on planet Earth.

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