Hiking

Shelton teenager Saina Dalvi fulfills her dream of hiking Mount Everest

SHELTON — Saina Dalvi’s dream of climbing Everest began when she was 8 years old. Five years later, the dream has come true.

Last month, the 13-year-old Shelton Intermediate School pupil hiked – alongside his mother, Pallavi Raje-Dalvi, and two friends – some 18,000 feet above sea level to at Mount Everest Base Camp. Located along the border of Nepal and Tibet, Mount Everest, at just over 29,000 feet, is the tallest mountain in the world and is part of the Nepalese Himalayas.

“It was amazing,” Saina said of the feat, which she said had been a goal since her mother’s first trek to Mount Everest Base Camp five years ago.

“Being at Mount Everest Base Camp was amazing,” Saina added. “Everything you saw seemed to come straight out of a dream. Even though it was cold, the view was beautiful, which was worth it. I felt a great sense of accomplishment and I’m honestly very proud of me.

Pallavi Raje said it was a 10 day high altitude trek.

“As you gain elevation, the battle is not with your body but with your mind,” Pallavi said. “You have to keep a positive attitude and take it one step at a time.

“I’m very proud of her, not only for achieving what she set out to do, but also because she was a constant source of inspiration to several hikers on the trail,” Pallavi added. . “His attitude and positivity are contagious.”

Saina called the hike difficult, but the experience was enlightening.

“Every day we walked from one village to another,” she said. “Each village had its charm. The views were breathtaking. I don’t think the pictures do it justice.

Saina said a typical day of hiking involves waking up, getting ready and having a quick breakfast at the teahouses. There they usually served tea – ginger tea was her favorite – and a simple breakfast. Then they went on a hike.

“When we come to the next teahouse, we usually have some tea and rest playing cards, mainly a local card game that the locals taught us,” she added. “We were also chatting with hikers from all over the world which was really cool for me and turned out to be the best thing about the trip. I met a lot of people from places like Germany, Great Britain, Slovakia and even a few people from all over America.

A distinct memory of the trip, she said, was that on the third day at Namche Bazaar, she and her mother had just opened their bedroom windows and watched the sunrise over the mountain.

“It’s one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve ever seen,” Saina said.

She said another memorable experience was visiting Thyangboche Monastery, which is over 200 years old.

“We watched the monks perform the ritual,” Saina said. “The architecture and design of the monastery walls was breathtaking. Each image had a story to tell.

Saina said she was fascinated by the culture.

“Our guide was a local and he told us a lot of stories and cultural beliefs,” she said. “Overall the food was pretty basic, but what stood out to me was that most of it was grown on site. Everywhere we went we felt very welcome in our hearts.

She said the last three days of the trip were spent climbing and the temperatures were quite cold. She said the group slept roughly in their full hiking gear, including jackets and hats.

The last day of hiking was the longest and hardest day, she said. The group started the hike at 5:30 a.m.

“As you can imagine, it’s very cold at 5:30 a.m. in the mountains at 17,500 feet,” she said. “Within about five minutes of starting our last hike, the water in our hydration packs had started to freeze. This meant we had to plan ahead to get a simple sip of water.

An hour into the hike, the cold began to weigh her down physically.

“I was in tears. My hands were frozen,” she said. “I took my hand out of my glove to drink some water, but I was barely able to use my hand, I physically couldn’t move my fingers to put them in the glove. I think that was my lowest point of our entire experience.

But when the sun came up, the mood of the group changed, and everyone got a new inspiration to carry on.

“After that, my mind had one goal and one goal – to get to Everest Base Camp,” Saina said. “I realized there was no point in giving up when I was so close to achieving my five-year dream.”

She said the hike was rugged and difficult as the group gained 400 to 500 feet in elevation each day.

“As we climbed, the thinner air added to the difficulty as it is difficult to breathe,” she said. “But throughout the hike, I did my best to stay positive and encourage others. Although this hike was challenging, it was an experience I will never forget.”

She said she was moved by one scene, when she saw a 10 or 11-year-old girl carrying her younger brother, possibly 5 or 6, on her back to school through the mountains.

“Our guide told us there was no school in their village, so they walked six or seven miles each way to get to a school,” Saina said. “I am grateful for all the resources we have as children here, but I would like to do something for the Sherpa children.”

Pallavi said her family loves hiking and Saina has been hiking since she was four years old.

She said the family hiked places like Mount Monadnock and Mount Washington and others in the northeast. The family has even done a few “14ers,” what hikers call mountains 14,000 feet above sea level or higher, in Colorado.

But Pallavi knew Saina was truly dedicated when she made the trek to Lincoln Lafayette, NH, which is 9.3 miles and considered difficult.

“I was amazed,” she said, adding that Saina “loves the mountains and always has positive energy to spread.”

Saina said she stays in shape by training with her gymnastics team at Next Dimension in Trumbull and as part of the middle school cross country and track team. To prepare for the high altitude of Everest, she said she went to Colorado last summer and climbed Mount Evans, which is a “14er” to help acclimate her to an air thinner.

She also keeps busy with the school’s drama club and the robotics team. Outside of school, she also practices classical Indian dance and teaches children in a small Indian village.

“From here I aspire to do other bigger treks like Mount Annapurna and Mount Kilimanjaro,” Saina said. “Plus I’ve watched hikes in Europe like the Tour du Mont Blanc in France and Samaria George in Greece which are absolutely stunning.”

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