As I was walking the steep ascents whilst trekking the Annapurna circuit, my mind was calm. Yet still, I focused on the goal that I had in mind.
We had set out on an 8-day trek that would take us to the highest mountain pass in the world, the Thorong La Pass, in Nepal. Standing strong at 5,416 meters above sea level, getting there is no easy task.
We knew that it was hard, but we decided that we wanted to have that experience. We were committed. And so we set out on this expedition. We had already tried going once. But that effort, motorbike road trip to the Tilicho lake failed after the first day.
Ways in which we could have failed
So we attempted to do something, after we had already failed in doing a similar thing. So we’ve shown persistence in conquering the Annapurna mountain range. There were many factors against us.
We are not trained trekkers. This was the second more-than-3-hour hike we’ve ever been on. The first one was the Lost City in Colombia. Walking 8 hours a day, every day for 6 consecutive days was a challenge in itself.
Most of the path was in ascent or in decent. In ascent it is hard to breath. In descent my knees would ache of effort.
Water is abundant in the area., due to the river close-by. But the water isn’t exactly potable, unless you’re used to drinking water in Asia. Therefore we needed to use iodine pills to add some chemicals to the water.
It was cold. We had to wear and carry heavy clothing for the whole thing.
The sub-zero temperatures and lack of heating in the room made sleeping uncomfortable.
Sleep was also a deprivation owing to the wake-up-I-need-to-pee interruptions, due to the copious amounts of water I’d drank during the day to avoid dehydration.
Acute mountain sickness had to be considered as well. Being so high-up we had to acclimatize. At elevations of 2400m we had to increase our altitude by less 600m every day. Following that system, I still had headaches every day during lunch (right after the trekking stops). On most occasions I had to medicate it.
I also broke my sun-glasses, which have a sentimental value as they belonged to my father when he was younger than I am right now.
A long list of factors that were against us, yet still we persisted to accomplish this. We don’t know exactly why, but we decided to overcome all of these obstacles to achieve our objective. To climb to the Thorong La Pass.
The feelings I felt when we actually arrived to the Pass are indescribable. I cried. I don’t know why, but at that moment, that was the best way for me to express myself. We had undergone so much struggle to get to that point. To see those flags, and to take a picture up there. Feeling triumphant. Feeling accomplished.
Yet this trek was much more than that. Whilst walking, I wasn’t thinking of getting to the pass. At higher altitudes, and at steep ascents, breathing is hard. Automatically, I focused my mind on my breathing. I matched the frequency of my breathing, to the pace of my legs, to pace my speed. I was thinking about where to place my feet, for each step, not to slip. I coordinated this with allowing enough time to absorb the beauty that surrounded me.
Whilst looking at the endless snow capped mountains in the distance, and at the villages and locals I came across, I wasn’t thinking about my goal. I wasn’t thinking about reaching the Thorong La Pass. I was enjoying the moment. Each step, each meal, each interaction I had during the 8-days of doing the pass were not a means to an end. I enjoyed them for what they were. Walking for 8 hours a day didn’t feel like a long time. An hour passed in an instant.
What I’ve gained from this experience
This trek taught me how to enjoy now whilst following my purpose. It is a logically good concept, and I understand it intellectually. But this trek gave me the opportunity to experience how it feels. Doing this trek gave the possibility to have accomplished many things.
The instant feeling of accomplishment. Getting up to the pass. That moment, of glory that is hard to describe.
The long-term feeling of accomplishment which is another story to tell from my life’s experiences.
We made friends. Isacc & Keith from the USA who are travelling for 3 weeks and came specifically to do this trek. Rowan is an Australian who has left Australia on his motorbike 2 years ago. Jacqueline from Switzerland who’s only 21 years old, and has been travelling Asia for 5 months, by herself. All great people with great stories to tell.
Nature has left its therapeutic effect and helped us to clear our mind. Mountains give me the feeling of stillness, that helps me relax.
We got to exceed our ‘1 hour or 10,000 steps a day’ target. Usually it’s hard to walk that much on a random day. Here we were doing 8 hours of walking every day. That’s some nice cardio!
I got time to reflect. Whilst walking on easy paths, I got time to think deeply.
By seeing people living in the mountains, I have expanded my knowledge about different cultures. I’ve seen a woman carrying construction material, and wooden logs from 45 minutes walking away. In my culture, a man would drive for 5 minutes and carry everything in his car.
Having accomplished this together, I have built an even deeper bond with Romy. We have gone through all this together, and it has been a wonderful experience.
Extra lesson I’ve learnt
Something I’ve learnt from Isaac & Keith during this trip was that there are 3 Types of fun.
Type 1 fun – having fun there and then. It’s instant.
Type 2 fun – you don’t particularly have fun doing, but gives you great feelings afterwards.
Type 3 fun – you don’t enjoy doing it, but whilst having a beer, be proud that you’ve gone through that shit in your life.
This pass was a pure example of Type 2 fun, as it was hard work. In life, not all things are Type 1 of fun. In most cases, it’s more the Type 2 and Type 3 type of fun. But still, as long as your believe in what you are doing, when you look back you’ll be proud of what you had to go through to achieve your target.
In our life, we should have a main goal. Yes, we should think about our future. How we want to be in 5/10/30 years. We should think about what we are going to do tomorrow/next week/or in 10 minutes. But everything needs to have its time. We should focus on enjoying whatever we are doing, know that by doing what we are doing, since it feels ‘good’ somehow it will lead us to where we want to go.
Having a goal, a purpose is important it gives your direction, but then, it is up to you to enjoy each step that you take, to make your life fun, every day.