Social icons

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Trekking in Nepal : The Importance of Now


"Suddenly I told myself, 'You could turn around right now. Nobody would stop you.' Standing next to Jeff, my mind churned with fear, self-doubt, and endless self-questioning. Perhaps the way to approach such a monster of a mountain was to break it down into more manageable chunks, to clear my mind so heavy with expectation, and to experience the climb moment by moment, step by step. I would try not to worry about everything that lay ahead but focus on the beauty and friendship that was all around me, and no matter how high I got up the mountain, I would celebrate that as my summit." - Erik Weihenmayer, Touch the Top of the World


Annapurna Base Camp 2
Annapurna Sanctuary Trek
Annapurna Base Camp

*Note: A few days into the trek, my camera started to act up with the shutter function not working. Sometimes it would work, sometimes it won't. I had a feeling it also experienced altitude sickness. lol In those moments, my travel buddy and good friend, Paul of Walk, Fly, Pinoy, lent me his camera. So some of the photos were taken using his Nikon D90. Thanks Paul! 

I wanted to stay longer in Pokhara after the trek because it is so laidback. But I knew I had to go back to Kathmandu, have my camera fixed, and check my finances/travel fund. 

Today I started the day checking my bills and travel fund. The part of the extra money I thought I will still have for another leg next year is now allotted to fixing my camera and for my ridiculous phone bill. But I knew that the moment I made that roaming call to two people I truly love, that the cost was going to be worth it. So at the end of that excel file, I knew the possibility of another leg early next year might be a bit remote.

Then I remembered the one important lesson I learned from the 10-day trek and in my three-weeks stay here in Nepal – the importance of Now. 

Gateway to the Annapurna Sanctuary, Nepal
At a flat trail before going up to MBC. 
Enjoying the sun and the 'gate' to the Annapurna Sanctuary.

When you’re out there in the mountains trekking – the most important thing to keep in mind is to be in the present. Every second is to be concentrated on the next step you’re going to make. Not the next village or the next flat trail. Because when you’re out of focus, you might find yourself falling over a rock either on your face, on your butt, or worse falling off the cliff or river just inches away from you.

Annapurna Sanctuary Trek Bridge
Just one of the few 'bridges' on the trek. From the foot of New Bridge to the 
steep climb going to Jhinu Danda, and further to Chomrong.

And when you feel tired or exhausted. Just stop, drink water, eat snickers, soak up the sun, and enjoy the scenery. It may be inside the forest, or looking out over mountains of rice terraces, or if you’re lucky, the snow-capped mountains. At some point, trekkers, guides, porters, or villagers will pass by you saying “Namaste!” “Good Morning!” “You can do it. Just an hour more and you’re there.” “Fight!”. Somehow, it lifts your spirit and sore muscles up and you know you’re ready for another hour of trekking. 

Annapurna Sanctuary Trek Chommrong
Who wouldn't want to take a break here? During the very steep climb 
from Jhinu Danda to Chomrong where the amazing view awaits us.

Once you get to the village where you’re supposed to spend the night. You change clothes, sit down, chat with old and new friends, read a book, just relax, and enjoy the view. 

Annapurna Sanctuary Trek Chommrong 2
Enjoying the view from Himalayan View Hotel in Chomrong. 
Early birthday gift the day before my 26th. :)

And then at night as the temperature drops. You get inside the dining hall filled with people sharing stories and jokes. Porters, teahouse owners, guides making you laugh or offering you unsolicited advice on trekking safety and mountain sickness. It may be cold, but the warmth of the unspoken camaraderie shared by everyone in that hall is sometimes more than enough to make you warm along with your two layers of thermals, fleece, down jacket, beanie, scarf, and gloves. 

Annapurna Sanctuary Trek Friends
Met the most amazing people during the trek especially our German friends! 

And now, five days since the trek, with worries on my mind about my depleting travel fund and camera, I am reminded by the importance of now, being at the present. 

When did I ever spend a day - just walking around, or sitting on this couch for hours, sipping Nepali tea, and reading and being inspired by Erik Weihenmayer (google him and his book) – in Manila? Never. Only now and here. 

Life will always have the negativities – moments of worries, impatience, frustrations. But if you just stop thinking and acknowledge where you are right now – you know you’re just about fine. Better, even happy. 

Landruk Sunrise, Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nepal
View from Landruk.

Machapuchare Base Camp
Sunset view in MBC.

If only for this important lesson, the breathtaking views of the Himalayas, the warmth of the people, the patience to subject your body to hours of going up and down mountains in one day, an open and clear mind, and the will to go further every single day. Anyone can do the trek. Race, color, and even age don’t matter at all. I’ve seen more middle-aged to even people in their 70’s doing the trek than young ones. Some have porters, some don’t. But they do the trek just like everyone else. And you should. You should definitely consider going here to Nepal and do some trekking. ;)

Machapuchare Base Camp 4
Afternoon photoshoot in MBC just before the altitude sickness symptoms.

And with this, I hope you’ll be patient enough to read my daily journal of the 10-day trek in the Annapurna Sanctuary. And I hope you’ll enjoy it and be encouraged to do it as well. :)

Annapurna Base Camp
Breathtaking view at the Annapurna Base Camp