This is the second in a series of two – the first one (Hike to Mt. Everest Base Camp – Sept-Oct 2016) – blog posts, I decided to write about my exciting hike to Mt. Everest Base Camp in Sept-Oct, 2016
This trip had touched the core of my being. I could feel the aliveness of my being coming into contact with raw nature, and this contact expressed itself into a singing of the spirit, mind and body.
With this trip – I got lost in the Himalayas and found myself – my true inner self.
Lesson1 – Keep going forward and Keep growing
Do not go through life – grow through life
Once on the path to Everest Base Camp – there is no looking back – one must keep looking forward, looking up at the grandeur all around, forget the pains, miseries and troubles and keep hiking and looking ahead. Just as in real life – time travel is not possible, similarly when hiking on these treacherous paths, one needs to just keep going, one step at a time, with a deep breath, with deep focus and enjoying the journey, the grand destination ahead. Even if you feel sick, unless it is a real emergency – one has to keep going with the group, otherwise one risks putting the whole team and trip in jeopardy.
“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations”
“Pain is temporary but Quitting lasts forever”
Lesson 2 – Innovation
“Necessity is the mother of Invention”
Probably more innovation happens in the remote areas of the world than in the most advanced places on the planet. Survival in the grueling conditions up in the altitudes where the basic necessities of life – Food, Oxygen and Water are so rare it takes an innovative attitude to survive and thrive in the conditions up beyond 14K ft.
At 14.6K ft, we met this lady who was hosting our team for the night before our final hike to Mt. Everest Base Camp. I was amazed at some of the innovative ideas she has used to solve some common problems as well as reuse things which we dump into the lap of nature.
She collected all the trash especially the plastic wrappers, from the hike paths and made a cushion out of it – wow what an idea – . She also devised an ingenious technique to close the outer doors of the tea-house automatically, whenever it was opened to preserve the heat, with a single string an empty bottle filled with soil and small rocks and some creative, out of the box thinking.
Lesson 3 – Love Other Living Beings
We met these novel creatures – called Zopkiyo’s (a breed between the cows and yaks). These Zopkiyo’s, carried our luggage all the way from 8K ft to 16K Ft(Gorakshep) – our last stop before Everest Base Camp. These innocent and docile looking creatures of our planet are just amazing if we think about it. They eat grass and hay (the only input to their system – day in and day out – without complaining) and do an unbelievable amount of work – from carrying our luggage, giving milk, their poop is dried up to make pancake like objects which help a camp fire / cooking fire to burn, so much so that when they die, we use their skin and eat their carcass – we humans should learn from them not become meaningless consumers but givers back to society, earth and people around us who need us.
In our team were siblings – Lauren and Nathan. Both are natural animal lovers. Lauren, has a very compassionate mind and almost every day at the beginning and end of the day she used to tend the Zopkiyo’s, pet them, remove the dirt from their woolly skin and developed friendship with them and thank them for helping us on this difficult hike carrying our duffle bags.
An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language. –Martin Bube
They also easily made friends with the stray woolly dogs we met on the way, and one night in heavy downpour while we were all sleeping, both of them gave shelter to a stray dog in their tent.
I learnt so much from these Zopkiyo’s and the art of compassion from Lauren and Nathan – as Dalai Lama always propounded.
A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude. –Elie Wiese
Lesson 4 – Desire
“Believe you can and you are half way there” – Theodore Roosevelt
You can do anything even if not born with qualities to do it. Here is the example of this gentleman from our team – John Heffernan – who when he was born – the Dr told his parents that he was born with collapsed lungs and prepare for his funeral.
Here was John – a brave-heart amongst us all – who celebrated his 51st Birthday the day we all reached Mt. Everest Base Camp. What a great personality and a great human being John is – we were lucky to have someone of his will-power and steel as part of our team.
He clearly set an example – if you think you can – you really can irrespective of what comes in your way or what life gives you.
Lesson 5 – Self Doubt and Focus
Your mind can be your greatest friend or your greatest enemy
In our journey through life – we all face difficult situations – some of which we overcome and build our confidence, while we fail in some which sometimes shakes our confidence and focus.
On the high roads to the Base Camp, any self-doubt and lack of focus only pulls us back, and that is the last thing one needs when climbing the intense steep slopes. Intense focus especially when relentlessly climbing the steep walls, as well as on the way back is a necessity ingredient to success. Similarly, in order to succeed in life one needs self-belief, self-confidence and focus as the key ingredients.
Both during preparation for the intense hike, and during the actual hike, NEVER for once did the thought of failure or the negative thoughts of self-doubt crossed my mind. The beauty, grandeur and the amazing team of people around me – motivated and kept me moving ahead one step at a time towards my goal.
Let yourself be surrounded by nature at its best, calm yourself, focus, and let magic do the rest. –Sally Walker
Lesson 6 – Happiness
There is NO key to happiness – the door is always open – Mother Teresa
Luckily, I have always been a Happy person – whether it is circumstances, whether it is myself being happy and contended or it is due to me not having expectations from anyone. However, I was strangely surprised to find a different sort of happiness when I was on this hike path – a state of mind and body where I had absolutely no fear, no doubt and no inhibitions and felt intense joy and contenment.
This must have been surely because of the people I met, especially the kids all along the way. Their smile, their happiness and state of contentment could be seen in the faces. Think about it for a moment – these kids here have nothing absolutely nothing, no TV, no good food, no cell phone and no candies or even a full meal sometimes.
Their happy state of mind, lack of fear, being away from noise and the maddening crowd and isolated from the materialistic world below them – made them so pristinely beautiful and contended.
On my way back – I gave away everything I had, my warm clothes, food, cereal bars and chocolates to the kids.
Even at such high altitude – people here stay grounded and true to where they come from and love the respect the land they live on and keep going through life without expectations.
It is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy
Lesson 7 – Respect the basic Ingredients of Life
Our earth has enough to feed our needs – but not our greed
Food, Oxygen and Water the three most vital ingredients of life – things which we take for granted, gets increasingly invaluable and scarce as we gain altitude.
It is impossible to complete this 84-mile roundtrip hike – without proper food. I clearly remember, during the hike over 15 days – especially the first 9 days when we were constantly gaining altitude, in the middle of the hike – it felt my body could not take the next step – without immediately consuming some food – snack/protein bars. The food at this altitude is carried by the porters, and during breakfast/lunch/dinner, I used to profusely thank the porters, cooks who made these delicious foods, for us which powered us all the way to 18.2K ft.
At these altitudes, it is also impossible to hike more than 30-45 min, without stopping to hydrate oneself, since one tends to de-hydrate both due to altitude and constant sweating till at about 14K ft. The only source of water at these altitudes is the ice-cold gushing water from the streams – which is almost undrinkable being so cold.
Let us wisely use the in-valuable resources that mother earth has bestowed for us.
In the end, our society will be defined by not only what we create, but by what we refuse to destroy – John Sawhill