The mountains are teachers

I miss the mountains. I am back in Kathmandu after the first half of my trekking journey, where I spent six days hiking the Everest region.

This is the region that put Nepal on the mainstream map: Mount Everest (the world’s tallest mountain peak), Sherpas (people of immense strength and resilience) and the Yeti (the abominable snowman, considered a myth to most).

To me, this is a region that tested the fabric of my being, both mentally and physically.

I ascended to more than 14,000 feet on this snippet of my journey. That’s the highest I have ever climbed. With my own two feet. At times on the ascend, my body wanted to buckle and give in — but it was more mind over matter, pushing through the doubt, hacking away at the “I can’ts,” concentrating on the breath to guide each step. On the practical side, it also meant slowing down so that I could acclimate to the altitude safely. (Even the most fit human is susceptible to altitude’s effect on the physical body and psyche.)

The setting that cradled this self-empowerment was spectacular. In between huffs and puffs and during water breaks, I was in awe. Snowcapped peaks, deep green forests, colorful prayer flags fluttering in the wind, rocks painstakingly carved with Buddhist scripture, thin mists seductively creeping into the valleys come afternoon, the jingling bells from yak herds in the distance … it’s the type of setting so completely removed from the modern, stressed-out cosmopolitan world honking cars and hurried people. Time stands still in the mountains. I loved it, even through the physical struggles.

I opted not to do the full Everest Base Camp (EBC) trek so that I could also experience the Annapurna region in the time I’ve allotted to hiking. I went as far as Tengboche, where a Buddhist monastery nestled in the clouds resides. I’m glad that I only did half of the EBC trek; it was challenging enough! I think I’d have to do some serious training in order to complete the full roundtrip EBC route. Perhaps some day in the future I’ll return. Hopefully with some moral support in the form of a friend, family member or significant other.  I longed to share this experience with someone; but having it be a solitary adventure is still an amazing gift.

I may not have been on top of the world physically — nor shall I ever be in this life, as climbing the summit of Mount Everest is not on my bucket list — but I certainly felt like it. Plus, the “top of the world” (aka Everest) was right in front of me. That was powerful in itself.

Bring on the next challenge, Nepal. I’m ready for the Annapurna region.

Leave a Reply