Monday, March 26, 2018, 8:24pm Simi Guai, Nepal.
Today I woke up at 5am, packed my backpack for the third time this week with everything I will need for the next 18 days, and got into a landcruiser with two Nepali men I had just met. My destination? Jagat, the town in which I will start my trek to Na along the Great Himalayan Trail. The ride so far has been unlike anything I have ever experienced- and I mean that literally and figuratively. After bumping and bustling up and down, over and around and through the massive hills and valleys of Nepal; after rain and thunder, a flat tire, car ride naps and many river crossings, we arrived just after 5pm on the outskirts of Jagat. Kazi, the guide I will be walking with until we reach Beding, and I said goodbye to our new friend and as he drove off we started our trek- across a massive, clear blue river and straight up the side of a mountain. We reached Simi Guai at twilight, around 6pm and just in time to change clothes and unpack my backpack before it was completely dark. Tomorrow we will leave this quaint little mountain village at around 8am and walk 6/7 hours until we reach Dokang. From Dokang we will travel to Beding and likely spend two nights there so I can adjust to the altitude. And from there, if all goes as planned, our final destination will be the high mountain village of Na. As Kazi and I walk, we will remain a day behind the group. Having this time to be in the mountains with someone who knows and respects them so deeply is such an unexpected and incredibly valuable gift. Not 24 hours ago, I was ready to let it all go completely. Having to release the tight grip I had been holding on my expectation of the trek, of being in the Himalayas and walking with the group and being out in nature for 18 days… That was a challenge I was not ready for. I do believe that life is a balancing act, that taking action and advocating for oneself is important and necessary and largely how I was able to make it to Nepal in the first place. But it is just as important (and in my case even more so) not to hold so fast to expectation. You can’t push the river, and trusting that things will work out can allow the peace and freedom that comes from letting yourself float for a little while.
I was always under the impression that trekking in the Himalayas would change my life, but until it actually happened I had no idea what that would really mean. The thing about trekking is that it is hard. Learning to let your mind be at peace while your body works and struggles and fights for hours and days on end is something that can teach you a lot about personal resilience as well as physical ability, and trust in one’s own strength. But really, the things I learned from the trek were so much more than that. I learned that my favorite thing about Nepal is the people here. I learned that I could trust a stranger to guide me up the side of a mountain, and in moments of loneliness or self doubt, have him bring me back to the present moment by mooing at passing yaks, searching the bamboo forests for red pandas, or offering me a snack of pancakes and peanut butter. I witnessed the incredible strength of women who run mountain tea houses in Simi Guai and Dokang and Beding on their own. And I sat and watched the clouds move through the biggest mountains in the world. I felt the raw, primitive grandiose majesty and force that lives deep within the earth. And in those moments of pure awe and humility, I felt and was reminded of that same force that lives within me; the same energy that gives me power and resilience and love. And I realized that feeling at home in this place, with myself, was a feeling that was always accessible, was always there because it is within me.