Legs burning, lungs struggling, soaked in sweat but cold from the wind at 12,000 feet. Looking up helps only to remind you that you’re slowly getting closer. Looking down, the world you’ve climbed above reminds you how much you’ve already done. The purity of finding the rhythm of your own body, the pace of the climb, is tangible in the moments between breaths. Moving through mountains this big reminds us that we are small, that life is short, that challenge makes us strong and food makes us warm. Morning tea and hot water bottles at night are luxuries here, but rote at home. The little things become big, and the seemingly big things in our busy, confusing lives back home become small. As we head into the final two weeks of our trip together, being up here in the high country is just what we need to find some clarity. We’re tired but happy, cold but full of warmth for each other, and couldn’t imagine a more beautiful place to begin processing our experiences together.
“You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.” -René Daumal