“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” – Sir Edmund Hillary
It seems like every week there’s a Facebook link floating around with gorgeous scenery of Iceland, or the amazing hiking trails in New Zealand… or “Things you didn’t know should be on your bucket list but should be” kind of lists. With each article I read, the possibilities seem endless. Each time I think: Geeze, there’s quite a world out there just waiting to be explored and experienced.
A few months ago, something began percolating in my mind: I should create a list of worldwide hikes, treks or mountain climbs to do. And then do them! Seemed easy enough. And even though I’m still mapping out the details, there has been a trek inception-ed in my brain for quite some time.
Mount Everest. Yes, that Mount Everest- also known as Sagarmatha, the Nepalese name for Everest, or Chomolungma in Tibet. Mount Everest- also known as the highest mountain on Earth. I’ve become quite drawn to the mountain- its stories, its successes, its tragedies, and the politics surrounding it all. My knowledge is still limited, but I’m slowly reading and absorbing what I can.
The idea has been planted.
The fascination has been growing.
And though I can’t fully articulate it as yet, I know the spiritual pull has been intensifying.
I realized I would have to see the mountain for myself.
I don’t have the skills of a mountaineer capable of climbing Everest…. yet ;). No, that would require many years and mountains under my belt, and a lot of money for expedition costs. But trekking to Everest Base Camp? Now that’s doable! I decided I’d fly to Nepal by the end of the year in search of adventure, and I’d go alone if I had to. Of course, I messaged my friend Dan of many mountain adventures to see if he’d be interested, which he most definitely was. It didn’t take long to discuss costs, logistics and feasibility before he was in. Then I messaged a couple of other friends, and it looks like my friend Sanjay will fly from India to join us! Omg, so exciting!! Oftentimes I think there would be no one willing to do crazy adventures or travels because people are busy, or schedules don’t align, or whatever rationale I play in my mind. But if you present the opportunity to the world, you never know who will take you up on the offer. Coordinating this trip has been a great reminder of that.
One of my favourite quotes comes from Dr. Seuss: “Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way.” We could die tomorrow. Ugh, how morbid, right? Well, it’s true! And for some reason in the last little bit, I’ve thought a lot about this. Not in a morbid way, or in an OMG way, but in a you only have one life sort of way. And if there’s something worth pursuing, now is the time to pursue it. So Everest Base Camp won’t wait. It has to be this holiday season.
And honestly, I struggled with the decision to go. I’d be missing Christmas in Milton for the first time, which caused a significant amount of guilt to pervade my being. I read an article about the world’s most dangerous airports, and Lukla, from where we’ll be departing for the trek, is rated number 1. To reiterate: the most dangerous airport in the world :S. I’ve been captivated by media stories related to ISIS, Ebola, and the avalanches in Nepal, and for the first time in forever, I’ve been nervous to travel. For a brief period, my mind was flooded with the feeling that the world is a scary place.
But then I got over that. I’ve been so fortunate to have amazing people in my life. I am physically able to hike and trek and see amazing vistas near to me and when I travel abroad. I know that not everyone has those opportunities, and it’s something I don’t take for granted. Traveling and hiking are my passions; they’re worth a healthy dose of risk. And all the crazy news stories and horrifying events are outshone by the goodness of most people and the beauty and awe found in the world.
So today is the day, and the mountain is waiting.
I’ve been reading “The Happiness of Pursuit” by Chris Guillebeau, and he writes about why some people undertake long, challenging, personal quests. One thing that really stuck was the notion that “the emotional awareness of mortality can help us pursue a goal”. Logically, we all know we’re going to die. But a more intimate awareness of death? Well that really kicked me in the right buttock this year.
The Start of Something
I have begun to formulate my quest. As I mentioned, the parameters are still coming together, but I do know it will involve trekking and traveling. And this is not something that will be put off until someday-land, because who knows how long we have on this incredibly beautiful Earth. So to start, I’m off to Kathmandu, Nepal in a few weeks to trek to Everest Base Camp, and I couldn’t be more excited!
I may not be following exactly in the footsteps of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay when they achieved the first summit of Mount Everest, but it’ll be pretty darn close for now :) And besides… we all have our own path and mountain to summit.