I’ve made peace with the crows. They are now my companions on this trek. They coax me and nudge me with their now seemingly less hideous squawks. They remind me to bring out my inner eagle. I guess we all have that. Sometimes it’s buried so deep that you have to put yourself in situations that must summon it.
I am on this one ridiculously upwards climb. And I am looking for that damn inner eagle. I am also scrambling like crazy looking for the next spot to place my foot on. I am careful, not stupid (no chuckles from the audience please). I want to spare myself any injury. After all, this is only Day 2 and I got at least 3 more days of climbing before the decent.
I am also careful about stepping on donkey poop. Mountain donkeys are amazing creatures. They are a constant presence. So is their poop. Each time you hear their bells, you better move out of the way. The way that is not on the cliff side. Otherwise, you will become dinner to the vultures if you don’t. I am certain they are waiting below.
These 4 legged mountain Ubers know exactly where to place their hoofs. And I am learning. Keep your head down and keep moving. Getting there is inevitable. You will get there.
I am beginning to notice the smell of the rhododendron and pines. I had no idea that rhododendrons come in the form of giant tall trees. I guess when you’re competing with pines who think they’re skyscrapers, you find your inner skyscraper.
The climb continues. It goes on for at least 2 miles. Not even a teeny plateau to feel some accomplishment. Some hope. You have to work this out internally with that inner eagle of yours. Nature is not helping here. There are no villages or even a sign of humanity along this stretch of the trek. It is 4 miles of wilderness. I am beginning to dissolve into it.
We finally come to one small, and I mean small, stretch of relative flatness. My guide points way up to the sky. I look. He is pointing to a metal bridge over the Milky River that I have to crane my neck to see. He tells me we have to cross it. I realize it’s high. I know it’s scary. Those things don’t matter at this point. What does matter is that I have to get my already handed ass, several times over, up 1000 more feet to cross it. 300 meters of sheer torture. I am summoning my inner eagle like hell. He is responding in fits and spurts. But at least responding at this point.
By the time I get there my ass is numb. My legs are noodles. My body is pissed. And I’m breathing like a covid patient on a ventilator (too soon?).
I slowly begin the crossing. The bridge looks and feels higher from this end. I want to listen to the voices inside my head. I mean really listen. The insecurities. The uncertainty. The fear. I take that first step onto the metal slats. I want to savor each and every one. I walk slowly and deliberately. I touch the peace flags fluttering in the wind and I stop in the middle of this narrow metal hammock strung across this snaking magical river below. I do a slow 360. I want to take it all in. I want to dissolve further.
In the distance I see clouds forming donut circles around white mountain peaks. Fog is crawling across the valley. It is windy and cold and I can barely hear the roar of the river below. A light snow begins to fall. I am being kissed by these tiny flakes. I feel the wind across my face and I look up to the heavens. I stretch my arm out and I am ready to fly.
Next up… Namche Bazzar. Nemaste