And as I lay there, 4000 meters above sea level, having eaten two tabs of acid a few hours prior to this moment, listening to the sound of the bells as the mountain yak roam the alpine region of the Annapurna ranges in the Himalayas. Starring up and out into the nothingness, the clouds around me thick enough that with my arm out stretched I can only just see my hands, the feeling surreal, alone floating in nothing but a white mist so soft to the touch, it was this moment in silence, tired, restless, sweaty, having had picked off the countless leeches crawling down into my shoes and socks, I lay back, arms and legs open as I embrace my surrounding and let the universe take ahold of me and guide me into its knowledge.
As the divine reaches out and touches my soul I fall deep into a feeling of appreciation, my friends, my family, my life, my self, over coming all doubt and releasing from all fear, and as I melt into the moss, my breathe short but slow, and though my vision had been impaired It was certain that I was high in both meanings of the term, it was within this hour afloat in the clouds that I realized that I have been taking life for granted, that all my life partying and living in this mind set to ,”live fast and die young”, that death doesn’t matter as long as one has a good time, and this is absolutely true, though the people I know who are saying this are the ones abusing drugs and alcohol, which is only running from the reality, held within a substance and on a rotation of a routine in distraction, its no better then the ones wearing the suits oblivious to the outside world.
why not prolong that happiness and let go of what we hold deep within, why not work with our bodies and listen to what is is that they need to grow, listen to our hearts and decipher a truth?
Why not use our time on this planet and make positive influence and explore what it is we truly exist for? What truly makes us happy?
This all stemmed from my awareness towards my shortness of breath, 10 years smoking cigarettes and ripping bongs never really helped. Here I was trying to conquer this hike, 9 days through the Himalayas, having moments where I would become dizzy as if I’ve just inhaled a balloon of nitrous, almost collapsing as I gasp for air, I was truly taking my body for granted, a life of partying and indulging is starting to catch up, a life of abusing substance in which I truly believe can be used as a positive tool in society, have started to act up as my mother always warned me they would, though this is all my own fault, and I am not one to regret anything that’s happened in my life, only to gratefully thank this conscious existence for every second we have spent on this path together.
Our mind is of power, our body is our temple and our soul is the light that shines our existence, and yes this is the hippy preaching his words through a cloud of weed smoke, but also under the messy hair and bearded face is a human being, no different then yourself and all those you know sharing his words of experience and discussing what should be a general knowledge.
It was more then obvious that cigarettes weren’t helping my health, it also became obvious that I had more energy and vigor. Throughout India and Nepal, I had maintained a vegetarian diet for the for the first time in my life, avoiding drugs and alcohol, combined with a daily routine of yoga/workout, over a course of the last 2 months how I suddenly gained control of my emotions, my mood and my mind was/and is still, my motivation to find the time for myself to meditate and breathe, to dive deep into the philosophies that I relate to within Hindu and Buddhist belief, though I remain true to myself, for I am Matt, I am 1 in 10 billion and I fucking love my life.
I soon snap back into a damp reality. Wet and cold I decide it was time to carry on walking, lighting up the last of my joint I get up, picking up my pack and continue forward into the mist.
With only a meter of vision as I follow what I hope to be the path and not trodden ground made by the yak grazing the hill sides, I climb blindly to the top, reassured in my sense of direction by the odd trail mark painted at random in blue and white, and the small stone towers previous adventurists have made to help guide to the peak.
I’m soon to stumble on what will remain a moment I wont forget, a deep grunt, a very distinctive and humorous sound bellowing from the clouds, the noise louder as I approach, coming form all directions until I see him, the most beautiful creature, a dominant male yak, sitting stern on a mound of grass surrounded by his heard. The long golden hair shimmering in the dull grey surrounding, two gigantic horns curling up and out of the top of his head. As I slowly pass he carefully watches, his face wise with so much to say inside those big black eyes.
The rest of the heard, grey in camouflage with there environment, ghostly in their presence, one hundred eyes likes daggers, curious as to why I leer to in a deep gaze with my eyes wide and fuzzy starring back trying to communicate with the majestic creatures. Behind me two males start fighting, a noise like something snaps as there head but together, and here I find myself in the seclusion of the alpine abyss, all of this for my eyes only, this moment inspiring this idea to live this life to the the best it can be and embrace the consistent beauty that surrounds, we all just have to look.
The Himalayas are stunning; it has to be one of the most beautiful places I have seen throughout my travels. Our route, a five-day hike to Mardi Himal base camp, 4700 meters into the snow capped peaks, of the Annapurna range, Mardi Himal track is a fairly new track only opened a couple of years ago, it runs along side the Annapurna range east of the Annapurna base camp trek. The path is undeveloped keeping the natural beauty as you make your way through dense rhododendron and bamboo forests, along the way are the different camps all catering for your every need. Unfortunately, the price of food increases the further up the mountains you go, starting at ridiculously expensive prices the second you’ve stepped out of the bus to where it is you will begin your hike. Dahl Bhatt (Rice, Veg and Curry) may be found in the city for around 150 Rupee, finding it the mountains anywhere between 450-800 Rupee, not to mention masala tea, 20 rupee anywhere else in the country, though amongst the clouds you can expect anywhere from 150-200 Rupee, this is standard for anywhere in the Himalayas, I do understand that these people are bringing up the supplies, making it possible for us western tourists to indulge in such home cooked comforts like a pizza or a carbonara, though its all brought up by helicopters, and all the camps are run by a single organization that’s making a fortune as there is a gigantic industry for tourism. One positive is you are able to negotiate a free bed for the night if you present a big toothy grin and promise to eat at the owner of the accommodations restaurant, not to mention there is Wi-Fi at most of the camps, although the less popular routes its rare that you can actually get connected, the more popular trekking its almost guaranteed you’ll be able to post those endless selfies on your Instagram.
It was at 4130 meters at the Annapurna base camp I found myself a little disappointed as to have the feeling you’ve climbed to the to of the world to see everyone still face down in their phones and laptops.
It took us 4 days in total to reach to top of Mardi Himal, trudging to the top through the leech infested under growth, tripping through the vivid green of the many moss’s and fern trees growing between the tall red/pink flowering rhododendron
, up into the alpine air following the sound of the cow bells over the moist and jagged rocky outcrops, navigating through the thick of the cloud up into a blanket of snow for a short glimpse of Mardi Himal and the very impressive Machapuchare, and the surrounding ranges until the clouds once again blinded our vision and it was time to head back down into a world we could decipher.
On the way back my friend Aian and myself decided to split from the other two we where hiking with and cut across the valley onto the Annapurna base camp trail, as we made it back to high camp it was time to say goodbye and thank you to the others for the unforgettable adventure, and off we went. Needless to say we may have been a bit ambitious, running off the adrenaline of accomplishing our first hike in the Himalayas we set off for a second climb to a height of 4500 meters, making our way back down to forest camp came a warning that the path we needed to take was a very steep descent to the bottom of the valley, little did either of us know that the stair case we where about to walk down was a very old and a sketchy excuse of a route, each step doubling the size of any normal step, this eventually resulting in the feeling of our knee caps shattering as we hobble down.
winding down the edge of the cliff, the rocks with an intention of making life easier were loose, Aian taking a step and falling off the edge of the path, quite close to what could have been a serious situation, though nothing happened. Laughing it off we continued the mission to the bottom of the valley.
After two hours of silence, only the moans and groans from one another, each step having to apply all of my weight onto my walking stick, assisting the remaining fragments in my knees, we made it to the bottom, tired and hungry we walked into the first restaurant we saw, to our surprise and total disappointment, the food was more expensive then the top of the mountain, frustrated and too stubborn to pay the extortionate prices for a bowl of plain rice and tomato sauce we continued our journey to (TOWN) to rest and replenish our energy with a dip in the hot springs before waking and walking one of the most exhausting yet rewarding things I have ever had to do.
Waking up we continued our journey onwards to ABC, it took us 4 days in total, up and down what seemed to be one long continuous stair case, at one point we would reach 3000 meters to then suddenly walk all the way back down to base level to then be greeted with once again another set of infinite stairs. Two days into the length of the hike we reached the town/camp of Bamboo, it was from here onwards the hike became a little more exciting then the previous length, though in my personal opinion it was all a bit boring in comparison to Mardi Himal, as I crown that hike one of the most beautiful places I have ever immersed my self into. The amount of tourists, the high prices, the stairs, development and comfort of ABC is what ruined it for me.
The nature is undeniably beautiful, the overall size of the mountains, the vast and eccentric nature/wild life, the people, the faith, the temples, the landscape and of course the weed which happens to thrive through these parts, the endless amount of water and the crystals that litter the paths, whist’s walking I was continuously finding pieces of clear quartz and blue kyanite throughout this spooky yet enchanting wonderland.
As I approached Annapurna, Aian trailing somewhere behind, I found myself getting emotional, my eyes swelling at the sight of the welcome sign, a smile across my face and an urge to scream in satisfaction, we had done it, this being the 8th day, the longest trek I have ever had to do and a true battle with my psyche. A complete mental and physical challenge that in no way was I going to turn my back on it.
And there I was, quite literally on top of the world.
At base camp we ordered some dinner, smoked a spliff with some back packers and crawled into bed out of the freezing cold to get a good night’s rest before waking up at 5.30am to catch a glimpse of the surrounding mountains free from the cover of the persistent clouds.
Finding it hard to get up and out into the brisk cold air of the early morning, I was suddenly influenced from the sight of the sun shining clear as day over to peak of Annapurna, shaking Aian out of bed we got up and walked out into a sight so surreal, a 360-degree view of an impressive array of snow capped peaks, alpine grass, glaciers melting into a rapid series of rivers systems working their way down the mountain. After an hour in awe as the suns rays reflected off of the snow we decided we were tired and ready to go home, back to $5-10 days living easy by the lake side in Pakhora.
A spontaneous and what seemed crazy to some (all those apart form the two boys running the entire track) we decided we would hike the entire way back to catch the bus for that evening, the plan being that we would be back in time for a pizza dinner and in our beds by 8pm. What takes the average hiker 2-3 days we had in mind to accomplish over ten hours, and off we went.
Besides the amount of stairs, and a few other minor details, the trek is beautiful, very different to Mardi Himal, as in Mardi Himal you were walking under the growth of the forest majority of the time, in Annapurna you where exposed a lot to the sun (if any), hiking to the top with a consistent view of your surroundings, the mountains, the water falls of melting snow cascading down the face of the gigantic stone statements, the deep valleys and vast tree top canopy’s. It was a lot easier to grasp a perspective of where you are, Mardi Himal you have no idea, you are lost, somewhere rugged and raw.
Quarter to 4 we arrived in (town) with 15 minutes to spare to catch our breath whilst waiting for the bus, a grueling hike up and down thousands of meters walking somewhere around 45 kilometers one side and 35-40 the other, though we made it. As the bus arrives the smile widens on our tired faces, we board the bus. What we thought was a 30-minute ride back to town, turning out to be almost 3 hours driving a road bumpier and more dangerous then any road I had experienced throughout my time in India, thinking that would have never been possible though Nepal’s infrastructure in atrocious, that’s if you could consider there being any at all.
It was around 8pm we arrived back to our hotel, our old rooms taken, having to down grade into the moist, windowless corner rooms for the time being, though I couldn’t complain, I had jut accomplished one of the hardest most grueling adventures I have ever found myself in, a true challenge that has left me better off.
Being that high up, seeing the life in the mountains, the people who spend the lives nestled by the fire in their little shanties for most of the year, the dense greenery and life that is thriving in its environment, the air fresh and the waters pure. The fact I had found myself somewhere in the Himalayas was truly magical, a moment that will stay with me forever.
That’s until I go back and complete the 18 day Annapurna Circuit, but until then I remain content with what I have achieved.
I can recommend to visit this beautiful country, the people are incredible, anyways smiling and super kind, Kathmandu was a breath of fresh air coming out of India, everything around is green and full of life. Everything is thriving, it is very clean considering its neighboring country is one of the worlds dirtiest, and its a cultural experience you wont find anywhere else in the world.
I would have a lot more to say though I had found myself stuck in the comforts of Pakhora, the psychedelic edge of town by the lake side, a care free and very cheap, easy life, sitting on the rooftop of my hotel smoking Charas and retreating to (My old) room with the two double beds I pushed together creating one gigantic cloud for me to lay on, my own bathroom and windows overlooking the lake for a measly $5 a night you can’t go wrong.
This concludes my trip throughout Asian, making my way through India, a wonderful and questionable spectacular, into the easy going ways of Nepal, now its time to fly onwards to Canada to find myself a bear and a moose, to embrace to serine nature and find some under the table work to make some cash monies to further this epic.
I love you.