Earlier this week, the people of Nepal celebrated their New Year, 2067 according to the Nepali calendar. Had I realized it then, I might have feted the day with my friend A., who was here for a few days’ visit from Scotland.
A. and I met nearly two years ago – almost to the day! – while trekking along the Annapurna circuit in Nepal’s Himalaya; perhaps it was Manang or Yakarka. We left Kathmandu in separate groups, but our paths crossed as we arrived closer to the summit and as a few members of our groups came down with various illnesses, some related to altitude.
While waiting in Thorong Pedi for everyone to regain their strength, we nourished ourselves on garlic soup, steaming bowls of pasta, chocolate and milk tea. Some played endless rounds of cards while others read, warmed up by the fire and headed out for acclimatization sorties. The delay also afforded us the opportunity to mingle amongst ourselves, meet other trekkers and enjoy the breathtaking beauty that enveloped us.
We woke at 4 a.m. on the day we agreed to push to the top, setting out in the deep darkness, aided only by flashlights and the voices of trekkers slightly ahead of us.
The air became thinner as we hiked our way closer to the 5,400 meter Thorong La Pass.
And then, a few hours later, in blinding sunlight piercing itself through a cloudless blue sky, we reached the pass, and rejoiced in our achievement.
What a treat it was to trek down memory lane with A., even if the only peaks we conquered this time around were minimal by comparison, and better reflected our urban surroundings. It felt good to walk in nature again, with someone who had seen me at my ablest – even though some days it feels like a surreal and distant memory.
Perhaps it is indeed time to turn in my cane for a pair of walking sticks. I know the same strength, resilience and love of the outdoors resides inside of me. Who knows, I might make it to 5,000 again.