Nepal, Annapurna Circuit: where everything is inviting you to grow (part 3 of 3)

Manang - Yak Kharka - Thorong Phedi - Thorong La pass - Muktinath - Jomsom

Final battles with cold and height 

Day 9, 4050m, Yak Kharka & Day 10, 4450m, Thorong Phedi.
I am deadly exhausted from the height and the cold. Unlike the days before, 4 hours of walking those days leave me completely smashed. Another endless day sitting in the cold dining hall of the lodge. Paradoxically, these are some of my most enjoyable days. Everyone is in the same boat and I meet friends in every lodge now - at some point one starts coming across the same trekkers in every village. My path crosses with new friends above 4000m, too - Magnus and Mischa from Germany (and some Himalayan dogs), who would also be around after the end of the circuit in Pokhara and Kathmandu, as there is nothing like sharing a moment with someone who has gone through the same craziness you have.

It is so liberating to have nothing to do, you are free to give your full attention to the people around you. I promise to myself I will make more space for doing nothing when I get back home. In purposeless time, I figure we can find the most unexpected things - about ourselves, our boundaries and abilities, our emotions, and everything that is so suppressed by tasks, to-do's, responsibilities, and even hobbies and leisure activities in our contemporary lives. We need to give our brains and souls space to breathe, only then we see what is hidden underneath everything we are supposed to be.

I somehow remember Charlie Chaplain's words from his poem "When I began to love myself" - "Everything that surrounds me is inviting me to grow."

Final ascend and final frontiers of limits

Thorung-La Pass, 5416m.
The big day of the final ascend is greatly intimidating and frightening. Some of my acquaintances have already decided to go back and not do it - due to altitude sickness, tiredness or simply due to the realization it is beyond their limits, some people are carried up the peak by horses.

As I hit the road up on the steep rocks at around 20 degrees below zero, and as the wind is scratching my face I am thinking "what the heck am I doing, whose idea was that and why exactly am I exposing myself to these unbearable for me conditions." At some point I start feeling that my fingers are freezing and I panic as I really imagine how I might lose some limbs due to hypothermia and I get completely in my head-story for a moment. I shed a few tears but then, as they immediately freeze on my face, I think "crap, I cannot even cry now, my face is going to freeze." I have no option but to mobilize myself. The more I am ascending, the more difficult it is to breath. I have to stop literally every five seconds, in order to take a full breath, but I am so focused on this exercise that it helps me not think about how much I am mad at myself for pushing myself into this. Everything comes into perspective when I finally reach the top of the Thorung-La Pass. I am ultimately delighted and proud, and I know - I have reached beyond my personal limits there.


The aftermath

As I descend from the Thorung-La pass, the exhaustion hits me hard and I decide to shorten my trek by cutting the last two days planned and head to Pokhara, where it is 25 degrees and I can survive without a sleeping bag. The villages on that side of the mountain are anyway rather dusty and uninviting in my view, I have to wear a mask to breath and I realize I don't have any drive and motivation to test myself anymore. 

Enough has been enough. I head on a 16-hour journey towards Pokhara by jeep, local bus and a I travel on the floor of this bus, full of holes and dust is blurring my vision. We travel through ridges where Nepali people literally need to get out of the bus to support it on one side, so that it does not flip over the cliff... time is not passing.

I count every minute back home, but time is not relevant in the mountain. Waiting is actually an activity on its own, not something in between. Invaded by sudden fear and ultimate tiredness, I am thinking - this is the price we pay for invading the mountain. And yet, I feel blessed for having put myself outside of any comfort I could have imagined. In those situations, I can truly take the opportunity to learn from my own self - through exploring my reactions and my urges when I am put outside of my natural setting. It is a discovery of all that is hidden behind the image we so strongly hold on to. And it feels good and authentic, I know I am where I need to be.

Part 1 of my Himalayan adventure can be found here and part 2 here. Thank you for sharing my experience :) 

Sneak into the rest of my boxes of memories here. 

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