06: Digging Deep to Keep Hiking – Thaur, India

Abin Karhac to alpine meadow near Thaur

2 miles – 200 meters


Sleep barely came that night as wind rattled the green domes. I spent most of the night in and out of a dream of being taken out of the field back to civilization. I began to question what I was gaining from being on the trip as sick as I was. Was this a sign to quit now? A huge part of me wanted to go home then, to even be able to just talk to my mom.

I felt like I was tapping on empty, but the other part wanted to just stop being a wimp and keep pushing. The other part of me was searching for meaning, a lesson in the pain or in the sickness. I couldn’t figure out if it was a lesson on respecting my bodies boundaries or on perseverance.

The next morning, I remember the sun blasting through the hut door. The mountain range sat in front of me a massive snowy line of jagged peaks plastered against a blue sky.

In a fog, I sat on the concrete walls outside the Hari Run Ki huts, staring at the mountains in front of me. I’d made it through another night. I felt like warm jelly as the sun beat down on me. I had just learned that I was two days hiking from an evacuation point, and that fact liberated me.

I was stuck in these beautiful mountains, and I had to stick it out for another two days. Something clicked then.

Trisul’s mountain range, the pearls from the night before, shined on under the blinding alpine sun and high air. My fellow travelers joked and laughed around me. For a moment, I remembered where I was.

India 2015 (1)
Gaunt but ready to push on. I am on the right second in.

The beauty pushed out the pain and fear and I wanted to stay. It was a deep powerful determination, a strength I’d never felt before.

I wasn’t done with the trip, I wanted to see what the next 40 days would bring.

I can’t remember walking or hoisting my pack on to my back, but I remember bits of beauty and reality from the hike that day: the emerald green fields we passed shepherds in, the crystal-clear stream among the heavy woods we stopped at, the dead carcass we passed before reaching camp.

I was still shitting liquid too many times, but I made the hike to camp. I had enough energy to sit with the smiling laughing faces. The antibiotics were finally kicking the gut sickness’s ass.

I sat staring at the back of the mountains we had started in front of six days ago, watching the pink fading sun on these never ending jagged white peaks. A pair of hawks spun in front of us. They were backed by craggy mountains, flinging their bodies into a wild dance … pure joy.

The small moments make it worth the pain.

I fell asleep under a bed of stars that night.

There was no doubt in my mind that the past four days had been the hardest of my life, and there was no doubt that that one precious moment of birds and high mountains was worth it all. It made me grateful to every person who had taken care of me the past days, from getting me water to putting up with my voracious gas escaping my distended belly. Not all of it stayed in my sleeping bag.

Dappled sunlight on the backside of Trisul.

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