I was looking ahead to the majestic “RARA Lake Trip” when Sachin out of nowhere asked me if I had heard about THORUNG-LA??? I said yes, “The Highest Pass”. Not to lie, it was something I heard learnt just a week ago since my brothers were planning a trek to it.
Well, I don’t exactly remember what the hell was running through my nerves. I said yes to Sachin without giving it a second thought; I bought a lexi stick, packed my bags, buckled up my laces, grabbed the gears and it was READY, GET,SET, GO!
Next thing, I jumped off the Bus with a huge smile on my face and hugged Sachin goodbye at Mungling. Well, not to lie again, though much enthusiasm merged with my red blood cells, I also had my share of sleepless panicky nights that consisted of doubts. Can I do this? What if my guts abandoned me? I am a person who had never done a hike for a couple of hours and here I am being a wild-ass wanting to trek to 5416 meters.
End of thoughts, as it was already day 2 and I was in the Jeep climbing up towards Chame. Next day we took a truck that took us to Manang where we had our lunch and paid short visit to another beautiful lake “Lake Gangapurna”.
Later on we hiked for 3 hours and reached Khangsar where we decided to stay. The next morning when I opened my eyes, I could see the mountain resting beside me from my window pane. It’s one of the most glorious moments of my life and I felt so lucky to be there.
It was Day 4 and I started feeling the heat of the real trek. The happiness I felt on the day cannot be described in words. It made me realize that One can live the wish, if her wish is standing high. I also realized that I’d done a great job by choosing the low-budget-single-pair-cloth-wearing trek over an exotic holiday. And well yeah, it’s the best decision that I have made in my life.
After lunch, we were ordered to move ahead as we needed to cross the landslide area before dusk fell. I clearly remember, that steep, slanted, dreadful, one-foot-at-a-time trail. Jeena Didi , Sudip Bhai and Sachin were walking just ahead of me and I was watching each step of Sachin. Yet, we made past this trail giggling and our giggles to each other clearly explained “I am glad we did this”.
It was already evening and I was getting cold. But in the distance, I could see blue roofs within that pure white snowy grounds and I realized that it was TBC, Tilicho base camp.
That night it started again. I could clearly hear my heart beating hard. All I could think of was mom asking me if it was necessary for me to go to such a high altitude. This anxiety was slowly killing my determination, that passion which I had in great amounts in the previous evening. When a day ago I was proud of the decision I had made, I was losing faith and lamenting over the same decision when I was just a few hours away from my destination.
It was 3 am in the morning when Sachin woke me up. I was upset because I couldn’t go yet that I was unable to tell him so. It was almost 4 o’clock when everyone started heading up in a line towards their dream, and there I was in the corner with a cup of hot water in my hand watching them silently. Then I too took my green torch, grabbed my stick and headed up.
We were walking slowly towards an uphill trail . But my legs were forbidding me to walk. They were too weak to carry me. I stopped at a place and gasped for breath. Finally I said to Sachin, “I can’t do this, I don’t think I can make it”. He did not say a word for a moment. He sat down on that cold snow and then said, “ Don’t you remember carrying my bag yesterday up to Tilicho base camp? Have you even realized that you’re stronger than me? Don’t you hear Tilicho calling us? Who says we need to walk hard, walk in your pace. But don’t even think about returning back to the camp.”
We walked slowly and a little further, I could see Bikash dai and Abhi didi waiting for us. Bikash dai too reminded me that we’re not in a tournament. Walk like a turtle and rest like a rabbit. They wouldn’t let me give up.
During my walk, I asked every single person returning from the lake, “How much further?”. “Almost there”, came the answer. I kept walking, eyes fixed ahead of me.
I couldn’t believe that just 5 hrs ago, I was in the camp loathing my decision to come here. 3 hrs ago, I was telling Sachin that I could not do it. 2 hrs ago I felt hopeless watching that 90 degrees incline. An hour ago, I threw myself on the snow with exasperation after coming across the 35mins more board. And now there was only mere moments between me and my destination.
I slowly stomped my stick and started moving my feet and in no time I climbed up that bump. I had finally made it. Tilicho was stunningly beautiful and breathtaking. Watching that marvellous deep blue water surrounded by those magnificent shimmery mountains left me astounded. Everything about that moment was overwhelming for me. And I broke down. My fears broke down. My grief broke down. That negative shell compounding me broke down.. And I felt a flood of tears flowing through me.
I couldn’t believe that such a moment was a moment of my life. Tilicho was not something I would have ever dared dream of. Yet at that moment I was there, living a life beyond my dreams.