Question: Why do people wish us ‘Happy Journey’ when we’re undertaking one and not ‘Reach your destination, no matter how’. It’s obvious isn’t it because the quality of the journey matters most, not reaching the destination battered and bruised. I realized this with my first trek. Read on.
The first trek I undertook was in 2013 and it was to the Everest Base Camp in Nepal (referred to as EBC henceforth). It’s at 5380 m or 17,600 ft and can be reached by trekking for 10-11 days by foot or of course by helicopters. One doesn’t use choppers because the long trek helps in acclimatization & reaching directly is not a wise thing to do unless you’ve acclimatized already and are pushing for the summit. Back to the trek, I really don’t know how and why this happened but life plans for us whether we do or not. I never was into trekking but a close friend was into it and I would listen to all his stories always wondering if I would ever find trekking as exciting. He was the one to always push me to consider trekking but surprisingly on this one trek, he wasn’t the motivator. It was through another friend who was looking at completing a group of 15 people for the trek, that the seeds of a trek to EBC were first sown.Somehow, it seemed like something worth achieving than just the enjoyment of trekking – Everest does have that aura, doesn’t it?! I thought, if I have to try a trek, why not this one? And so I found myself seriously contemplating the trek. My husband was equally keen to do it and so we decided we’d go for it. From then on, there’s been no looking back. Trekking is now an essential activity – and its difficult not to trek at least a couple of times in the year (the week-long ones).
We were told that EBC (at 5380 m or 17,600 ft) wasn’t an easy trek but something that wasn’t very tough either – so beginners could attempt it provided they had the mental strength to plod on. It’s a 11-13 day end to end trek including 8 days of ascent and 2 of descent & a couple of days at Kathmandu. Getting to Namche on day 2 and then Tengbouche on day 4 (post an additional day of acclimatization at Namche) were the tough parts, but if one could do that, the rest was not so difficult. So I set out, determined to make it to Namche no matter what! I knew if I could do Namche, then I’d complete the trek.
And Namche I did conquer. It wasn’t easy but I guess I was mentally prepared and the ‘baby steps’ rule worked wonders. I completed the rest of the trek to EBC and when we crossed over to the Base camp post the long walk over the moraine, it felt like a huge achievement especially considering that we walked from Labouche straight to the Base camp & then back to Gorakshep on that day. That day was challenging for me because I had unwittingly eaten a tuna egg sandwich for breakfast when we took a break at Gorakshep, before starting for the base camp and gosh, thanks to that I spent a lot of time squatting behind the rocks that one way! It was tough, I was getting tired and dehydrated faster but I kept on. Of all the people who were with us, my husband never flinched even once when I told him for the nth time that I needed to go again. I’ll be forever grateful to him for that. We finally reached EBC around 1-1.30 pm tired and at the end of our strength. I hugged my husband, without whom I would not have been able to complete it. Over the past 10 days he had kept pace with me, slowed down when I went slow, checked on me when I was feeling unwell, never complained and stood behind me like a rock. A few tears rolled down my cheek involuntarily standing there – 10 days of continuous plodding had brought us to our destination. I was exhausted and there was a sense of relief in me. I guess I felt like a marathoner running his first 42 km run. Tired, pushing his limits and egging himself on to finally reach the finish line. I looked up in wonder at the small pyramid-shaped peak barely visible to us (since we were up close) about 3 kms away vertically. I felt an amazing sense of veneration for Mt Everest. I remember feeling overwhelmed when I had seen her from Tengbouche for the first time. I had read about her in the text books in school and a bit on blogs and articles before my trek, but never had I imagined that I would get to set my eyes on the worlds tallest mountain in person! My eyes tried to look up and follow the western cwm and across the kumbhu glacier breaking out with craters and crevasses. It had definitely been worth it. We clicked a few pictures, stayed for a while trying to get the moment to sink in and then started back .
All through this journey, I was forced to walk slow and stop frequently to catch my breath because my physical fitness did not allow me to trek faster. Even though I walked slower and stopped frequently, unfortunately I did not see many sights or take in all the beauty around me. My mind was constantly thinking of how tired I was, whether I’d be able to make it to the next stop, how late would it be when we reached, where was the next loo, etc etc. When you’re tired- slightly fatigued, you miss out on the beauty around you.
Of course, there were beautiful moments that registered, of walking through the Rhododendron forest, over the 2nd really high bridge before Namche watching the Kosi river below, my first glimpse of Everest (which I’ll never forget for as long as I live) and of the beautiful Ama Dablam. The broad wind-swept valley of Periche with slight snow falling as we walked back from Gorakshep (post the EBC victory), the Thukla Dukla pass & momuments to the brave moutaineers who’d lost their lives in Everest. I remember all of these and much more, but I do wish I had been more aware & alive to my surroundings – I wished I had enjoyed the trek with abandon with my mind only ‘here & now’. I think to myself often, that I’ll defintely do EBC again, just to relive the whole trek again but this time being fully present to the beauty of the place.
Post that trek I realised that trekking teaches you one of the most important principles of life. It asks you to question – Will reaching my destination give me that Happiness (the one I expect) or is enjoying the journey as important?
Think about it. We all want happiness in life. It believe it will come when we get that coveted position at work, or buy that BMW or when we have that figure in the bank. But will that really happen. NO. It’ll be momentary. Instead if you live life such that happiness becomes your state of mind independent of your current status or possessions. If you just decide to accept & enjoy the beauty of life – the daily commute, the occasional muddle, the little joys; life becomes a happy journey.
Improve your life’s journey – don’t wait to reach the destination. The question I’ve asked at the beginning of the blog, I had read in ‘Happiness Unlimited – Awakening with the Brahmakumaris’. The book is a must read for everyone & it’s easily available on Amazon.
Happy Journey/voyage to you all! 🙂