For the past two years, the month and half I spent in the North India Himalaya’s stayed locked away in my mind and a journal, almost a hundred pages long, that I carried the 42 days that I lived in those massive mountains.
The past two years pale in comparison to the vividness of the memories that still pop into my mind. They are triggered by the little sprinkles of similarities in my daily life. I have searched for the vibrancy and purity I lived with during that time the past years.
I have processed the near-death experiences and life changing people, challenges, and places I met in those mountains. The story feels done brewing. I feel ready to tell the story of the world I traveled through so completely foreign to America.
But how do you condense an experience that was so real that you can remember everyday two years later but can barely remember the last month’s normalcy? How do you avoid the depression that comes after the return from an expedition? I did not avoid it but chased after the ghosts of my trip, attempting to find a fragment of that place in the life I led back in America.
It’s a daunting task to take an expedition and turn it into a story. Something like I experienced in India will impact me in different ways for the rest of my life. Something like that needs time to settle into clarity in your mind, but I fear I will not be able to let it go if I do not write it out.
I left to go to India directly out of high school. I sped out of senior year to graduate early. I was running from an atmosphere of desperation and depression among my peers. Mental illness and heavy drug use consumed them and spilled into me.
So I was running away from it as fast as I could. At 16-years-old, I woke up paralyzed after a dream of someone choking me to death in my bathroom. I decided I would buckle if I had to stay much longer in high school so I planned a way to get out. I picked the farthest and strangest place I could go: India. It was my escape, my saving grace.
A year and a half later two months after turning 18, I took my first ever plane ride alone to Newark, New Jersey to meet the other students and instructors and fly to New Delhi.
The first month and a half I spent in India was in a small village at a home stay and on two rivers in the North Himalaya. I wrote already about these trips. But the last month and a half of backpacking in remote Himalayan valleys,the most challenging and transforming thing I have ever done in my life, will follow in a series of posts in the upcoming months.
A little about the trip
I went to India with the National Outdoor Leadership School. The names of the people I went with will not be in this story for confidentiality. I will not go into detail about the curriculum of the course but focus on the land and humans we traveled by. We hiked 150 miles in 42 days with a countless amount of elevation gain. The maps we used to navigate were hundreds of years old and on a large scale which meant small cliffs would not show up on the contour lines.
The expedition was split into four ration periods with a different number of days each. The story will be told in four parts each with daily descriptions of that ration and its terrain, discoveries, challenges, lessons, and experiences.