At Musa Masala we believe in getting out and expanding your horizons, helping those who may not normally get the chance to do just that. We believe in the beauty of the journey leading to the beauty within us, the beauty that comes alive when we challenge ourselves. Thanks Tamar for helping to show us the way.
To read more posts from The Beauty of a Woman BlogFest VII and potentially win a prize, visit this link through March 9th!
Ever since I was little I had issues with balance, walking into glass doors, walking into people, backing up into poles (yes on my driving test nonetheless) and the list goes on. All of this to illustrate what a major klutz I really am and how often my sight and balance have failed me. Perhaps that is a part of the reason I decided to make hiking a hobby a few years back. I needed to prove to myself that I could walk without falling or bumping into objects not just in NYC but also in the mountains. I didn’t realize that loose rocks would be involved and that I would fall even more on my hikes.
My friends tried to teach me different techniques along the way. One friend said “dig your heels in, ” another said “walk with confidence” one gave me a “one, two, three” technique, you look at the next three rocks and just skip through. Despite all of these strategies I have fallen many times: on ice, mud, in the river. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to fall on rocks.
I trudged along anyway and began hiking in the Catskills, NYC’s backyard. I even made it to some high peaks in the Adirondacks. I realized that being in nature helped me not only to overcome some fears, it pushed me to do things I would never have done otherwise, like walk across rocks upright instead of awkwardly using a crab walk.
My first overseas trekking experience was to Machu Picchu in Peru where there were many rocks but fortunately most were stable. It was a good trek to do at that point in my life, having just gone through a tough breakup, riddled with guilt and instability. I had forgotten my strength and had lost my core sense of self. I needed stable ground to help me feel grounded in my journey. I used poles too for extra support just in case (I felt extra wobbly at that time). Although I fell often, I also learned how to make light of it. That trip to the Andes opened my horizons to the possibility of higher mountains.
Fast-forward two years and another breakup later and a trip to the Himalayas is booked and underway. Everest here I come… actually Everest basecamp via three high passes here I come!
Well this trek was Machu Picchu on steroids. The passes were higher, the weather was colder and the rocks, the rocks moved whenever you stepped on them. So not only did I fall, I slipped all the time. Slipping I realized was a fun little preview to falling. I say fun but I really mean to say an annoying, heart stopping, tense instance that happened every fifteen minutes but without the grand finale of falling, until I did fall which always came when I least expected it. The other interesting part about slipping on rolling rocks is that they make a very dramatic sound, so every time I slipped my compassionate guide would turn immediately to make sure I was OK. Sometimes when he was behind me he would pull me back up by my backpack. It reached a point that our guide became my guide, as my trekking partner was not the slipping and falling kind. I realized after a few days that the attention I liked in the beginning turned to a hindrance. I needed more independence and a longer slack to be able to slip and fall and see if my muscles would work, which they didn’t for the most part. But I also realized I was able to pull myself back up almost all the time using my trusted poles and I needed to do that by myself.
Our guide did a good job at preparing us every night for the following day ahead. While sipping lemon ginger honey tea, he explained where we would be going, how long we would be trekking for and mostly that it would be “up and down up and down” and “a little easy a little hard.” That is now my life philosophy. Life is a series of ups and downs and it is “sometimes easy sometimes hard”. In order to walk through the trek our guide used a Sherpa term “cole cole” which translates to “slowly slowly.” As a fast paced New Yorker I am used to walking “fast fast” so slowing down was a new venture for me. However I welcomed it and it did decrease my falling probably by a whole 10%.
Because I whole-heartedly embraced “cole cole” our wise guide also reminded me to “jam jam” which is a Nepali term to “let’s go”. I feared “jam jam”. I needed to walk “slowly slowly” and sometimes hold our guide’s hand because that felt safe; especially when I found myself at the Khumbu Glacier, the mecca of loose rocks.
I learned that as fiercely independent as I’d like to think I am, sometimes I needed to accept help from more experienced trekkers and not to see myself as weaker for it. This discovery helped me successfully complete the most challenging hike I have ever embarked on. With a kind porter who intermittently glanced back to make sure I was still standing and our guide who was willing to pull me back up when I fell, I crossed Kongma la at 5535m, Cho-la and Renjo-la passes.
*Portions of this post first appeared on FullAccessNYC.
Have you felt the beauty of the journey open you up to new opportunities and experiences? Made you feel more comfortable going into unfamiliar situations and asking for help when you need it? We would love to hear your stories, Namaste.