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A woman sitting in a chair at Hawa Mahal (Palace of Wind) in Jaipur, India. Photo by Eliana Rothwell (2016 Fall Semester Photo Contest Finalist).

Hiking through the Himalayas

“Well this hike shouldn’t be too hard,” I thought to myself as we began the four mile trek to the Shiva temple. I had assured myself that my daily walks the previous summer had adequately prepared me for the hike we were about to embark on. Needless to say, by the end of the trip I was far from what anyone would call a pretty picture. Sweat was dripping down my forehead and my legs were covered in burrs and dust — not to mention my bleeding feet, victims of four thirsty leeches.

Although I ended up looking like a bit of a mess by the end of the hike, it was so worth it. There were definitely moments when I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish, moments when I was convinced that I had reached my physical limit and didn’t have it in me to keep going. Thankfully, however, I was able to make it to the end, largely because of my group. We stopped to wait for each other when we noticed that someone was falling behind or growing tired. We bonded over our love of riddles, and we reached our destination together, we all shared the same sense of accomplishment and joy.

I have a feeling this hike is an indication for what’s to come in the rest of my Bridge Year. I’m going to build resilience to reach the end of a journey filled with both steep inclines and flat, grassy areas. Along the way I’ll also need to be willing to ask for help from the people around me. I’m going to realize my limits, alter my expectations, build meaningful relationships, and discover parts of myself, perhaps both good and bad, that I wasn’t aware of before. I am a little nervous that I’ll encounter roadblocks that may make the journey seem impossible to complete, but maybe those wake-up calls are exactly what I need. It’s safe to say that these next nine months are going to be a windy ride. I can’t wait to get started.