"There's something about the heavens
That makes me stand in awe again
There's something about the sunrise
Reminds me of your faithfulness
There's something about the ocean
And I'm lost in love again."
I have touched the snow line of the Himalayan Mountains.
This weekend was rigorous and exhausting, but it left us all with a great sense of accomplishment. Granted, we all thought we were going to die, whether it would have been from lack of oxygen or just sheer exhaustion. Plus, Beth and I woke up sick the day we were to leave for our little excursion. We pressed on.
Saturday morning we woke up a little less than 100% but we still called the cab to head up to McLeod Ganj where our guides told us they would meet us. K.B. and Katar (not how you spell them, I'm sure, but I didn't ask) were waiting for us. They called their company car since
we were going to drive the first kilometer and shortly thereafter we were officially on our way. Although surprised at the lift, we decided we were going to take all that we could get. It was going to be a long trip ahead of us. We were so naive...
The goal of the day was to make it to Triund, which is where we would spend the night before we trekked on to the snow line early the next morning. I think our guides were a little disappointed in the American girls (plus an English one) because we were struggling with the ascent and the slowly diminishing oxygen levels. We apologized for being lame and for having to stop for water breaks about every kilometer. A wave of the hand and a "No problem," was always their reply. They were gracious folk, but the looks on their faces were a little skeptical of us making it all the way to our destination. To tell you the truth, I was a little skeptical too.
After making friends with a baby poisonous snake, scaling boulders, seeing a full circle rainbow around the sun, twisting a couple ankles, dodging cow, donkey & goat droppings, 3 bottles of water, feeling like I've done the stair machine for 4 hours straight, 2 lemon lime gatorades, and documenting some of the most astonishing views that I have ever seen in my life, we made it to Triund. We had completed 9 kilometers and we were all exhausted. They showed us our little "house" that we would be staying in and we all passed out and took a nap for about an hour. The locals just laughed at us and I think they thought we were weird. On the other hand, like always, they were extremely inviting and they served us some great soup and curry for dinner. They just like to make fun of us while they show their kindness (it's how it works around here... no big deal). We talked a little with our guides. K.B. is a student in Dharamsala and he spoke English really well. He was so fun and saved our lives on numerous occasions. He simply said that it was his job. What a nice guy. Katar kept to himself. He's been guiding for 18 years and he is a little intimidating. He's not so good in the English department either. We gave up on him and we started talking to the shop owner, Lalu (he lived and ran a shop out of the same building that we were staying in). He started talking about his dog Linda. Yes, this dog is a male. Yes, you heard me right. HIS name is Linda. He then started telling us that since it was monsoon season it was also about the time when all the black bears come out to play. However, we were not to worry because "Linda very powerful and he fights off many black bear." I was reassured, I think, until I didn't get more than 4 hours of sleep that night due to the barking dogs outside our feeble bedroom door. I was sure that a bear was going to break it down and eat me. Good news... we all made it through the night.
Up at 7am! A little sore but not bad. Breakfast was delicious and consisted of fresh mango, bananas, and oatmeal with honey. We were fueled up and ready to conquer the next 7 kilometers to the snow line. We were all lacking confidence in our physical abilities to complete our goal but we all decided it was worth a try. The trekking was more of the same. We needed to stop often due to sickness and adjustments to altitude, but we kept going. We kept asking K.B. what the rest of the hike was like. Flashbacks of "Are we there yet?" moments in my childhood came to mind. I hope he didn't find us annoying. When he said that after the first 3 km there was a significant stretch that was flat, you should've seen the hope in our eyes. I never thought I would be so excited about flat land... coming from Huron County and all. I was ecstatic. We strolled along for awhile and we were all feeling great when we arrived at the Snowline Cafe. We took some pictures and had a little rest before K.B. pointed out the vertical incline that took us up to the glacier. Once again we were feeling a little defeated but we were too close to turn back. As we were leaving... I noticed a sign near the cafe that read... "This is the last cafe." I told the girls that it reminded me of the Splash Mountain ride at Disney World where you're about to go over the edge and there signs posted saying "This is your last chance."
After another hour of excruciating work, we made it to the snow line!! We spent about 45 minutes just taking in the incredible view and enjoying our accomplishment. K.B. and Katar surprised us with little juice boxes and Kit Kat bars and Beth even ate some snow! We made sure to document and after we felt rested we were on our way back down the mountain. It was 16 kilometers back home. We were hoping that the fact that it was downhill would make up for our already existing state of exhaustion. And it was a lot easier but let me tell you... I have been convinced for a number of years now that I will need knee replacement surgery at the age of 40, due to soccer. I think I just bumped that up a couple years.
Oh well, it's all been worth it...
We finally made it back home... wet, sunburnt, rank and tired. But as Aimee (What a cute little English girl she is...) would put it... we are all "so pleased" that we did it.
Now that I am done reporting... the experience was unforgettable. It is so humbling to be in the midst of something so great. In the heart of such a vast creation. Being away from the sounds of civilization and hearing either the stillness of the mountains or the vibrant clicks and chatters of the wildlife, was so serene. It may be the country girl in me... but all I can say is that I'm a big fan.
Faith can move mountains.