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Photo by Tom Pablo, South America Semester.

Mountain Mama

Powerful, mighty, strong, serene, tranquil, mountains. Throughout this trip I have come to realize the gravity of mountains. They, indeed, have a sort of gravitational pull. Once you start to look at them towering over what seems to be all of humanity, you can’t look away. You realized how small you are, how long these mountains will outlast you. I live in a town surrounded by a mountain. I walk outside my house and see it staring down at me. However, I never learned to appreciate the beauty, the never ending clamness. Beginning on our first trek, I understood the power of mountains. I saw them for what they really are- pure and unashamed pieces of art in the midst of nature.

There is a mystery, a curiosity about mountains that is indescribable. They have the potential to hurt but also the potential to enlighten. They can never totally be understood and never totally be explored. It is precious to know there is a place on earth untouched by man or woman. On the flip side, it is tragic to see how many mountains are loosing the battle against climate change. On our journey, we have seen mountains naked, having lost their glaciers. We have seen mountains that once thrived with snow that now stand bare. The world’s most precious gifts are suffering. A force more powerful than human kind, a force that can hold life in the palm of its hand, a force that has (literally) moved earth is in pain, crying out for help and we aren’t appreciating them enough.

Pachamama (Mother Earth) is a woman. In relation I see mountains as women. They are knowledgeable, unforgiving, and every one is unique. I look around this group filled with nine woman and I am constantly inspired and in awe of their perseverance, and intuition. We are adventurous, brave, and will continue to be these things for the rest of our lives. We are following in the footsteps of Pachamama y las montañas.

On our treks I have seen the strong women of this group fight altitude sickness, stomach infections, and exhaustion to get over passes 5,000 meters. I have seen these women show raw strength out of nowhere. They got their energy and power from their sister, la tierra. How fitting- two powerful female forces are giving me and each other hope and support everyday. Now I’ll understand the significance of the mountain I see everyday. I’ll know that as a woman, I can do anything.

For the last time,

Zoe