On Trekking

IceLake_2

Bones and ligaments and muscles
air rushing in, rushing out
heart circulating oxygen-red blood

Breathe, step
Breathe, step

The chink, chink of the poles
The thunk, thunk of the boots

Breathe, step
Breathe, step

There are moments to stop and breathe deeply
to lift the eyes to the hills, the lush green forest, the rushing river, the mountain peaks

But so much of the day is consumed with the next breath, the next step
Eyes trained on the path, the dust, the footprint of the trekker-stranger-friend who has gone before you

Breathe, step
Breathe, step

For 13 days you breathe and step and find yourself kilometers, miles, worlds away from where you began.
You find yourself at the top of the map, at the top of the altitude graph, at the top of your world for the last two weeks

trekkingMuscles scream, lungs burn, heart works wildly

Breathe, step

The air grows colder, thinner, harsher
biting, stinging, burning
Skin dries, hardens, cracks
wrinkles crease,
face and hands prematurely aged in the cold, old air
old as the mountains
old as the river
old as the earth itself

You cannot pass these lands, breathe this air
without aging in their ancient midst

Breathe, step

The mountains loom above you, around you, beneath you
Eyes wide open, steps in slow rotation, you see the panorama but you cannot take it all in

Breathe, step

It is a wonder how far your frail frame has taken you – your two small feet – tarsals and metatarsals – tiny bones carrying you to ridges and valleys your imagination could not have conceived

Breathe, step

To walk is to submit
surrender
and so belong
to the teeming life around you
Though you are but a wayfarer passing through
your footfalls momentarily connect you
plant you
root you
and you are one…
and then you continue on

Breathe, step

We were meant, made, built to walk
to see this world from our own, two way-weary feet
But we have to re-learn the way,
to train ourselves again how to stand up and take our first steps in this wonderful, terrifying, breath-taking world

and so we breathe
and we step
and breathe
and step
and let this world shape us.


We took a pilgrimage, not to a church or shrine or temple but to the mountains. For 23 days we walked in the presence of some of the world’s most breath-taking scenery in the Annapurna region of Nepal, completing the full Annapurna Circuit and a few side-treks. These are a few reflections written along the way, after hours and days of walking and breathing and sometimes contemplating.

 

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