I stood staring up at the mountain. The icy wind nipped at my delicate face, its breath stung my cheeks. The five layers of clothing I was stuffed into didn’t stop me from shivering in the cold. We hadn’t even begun the trek and my legs already felt like lead. My mind wandered to thoughts of a warm bed and a roaring fire, but snapped back attention when my stomach sent out a pang of pain. I had fallen sick a few days into the trek and felt miserable. I constantly felt like throwing up and wasn’t able to eat much. I groaned to myself. How was I going to be able to make it through the next five hours? Ahead of me trekkers began to climb. I tried to push my negative thoughts aside as I took a deep breath and started walking. How bad could it be?
During the April of 2017 my dad and I were invited to join a group of 18 adventurers to trek to the Base Camp of Mt. Everest, and more importantly Kala Patthar. Kala Patthar, a name which literally means black stone, is a small area just above the Basecamp of Everest where you are best able to admire the beauty of the Himalayas. It had been my aspiration to reach its peak ever since I learned I was traveling to Nepal. At the top you are greeted with a 360 degree view of various mountain peaks including Mt.Everest. However, to reach this destination one must first endure the tough 9 day trek to the Basecamp, then wake up at three in the morning after a 10 hour hike the day before and, in temperatures below freezing, make the three hour journey up the steep and seemingly endless black rock.
Ten minutes into the trek I was already panting from the lack of oxygen and my calves felt like they were on fire. I sat down on a flat stone trying to ignore the pain in my stomach and legs. I spotted another rock several meters away. “Just get to that rock and you are done,” I told myself as I slowly pushed myself into a standing position. I slowly inched my way forward one step at a time and after what seemed like an eternity I found myself standing by the stone. I gently lowered myself onto it's hard surface. I glanced upwards; there was no end in sight. “Just to the next rock,” I told myself. Gritting my teeth I stood up once more. I slowly willed my aching feet to move. One foot in front of the other. I repeated those words to myself like a mantra as I slowly made my way up the mountain. Stopping to catch my breath at several rocks on the way. One foot in front of the other.
As I trudged forwards I was greeted with a stream of trekkers on their way down. Their expressions revealing if their journey had ended in success or failure. I stole another glance upwards. “I should be reaching anytime now,” I thought to myself. I noticed a young couple by the side of the path and asked, “How much longer until we get there?” “You’re about halfway there! You got this!” they responded with a smile. I stopped dead in my tracks. Halfway there. I was only halfway there. An older women besides my groaned and said, “I’m turning back. This isn’t worth it.” I nodded and sat down. Maybe it wasn’t worth it. I was only thirteen and Mt.Everest wasn’t going anywhere. I imagined getting a few more hours of sleep and the warm common room that awaited me if I decided to turn round. But… A part of me refused to accept that decision. I realized that if I turned back now I would regret the choice for the rest of my life. Even if I returned later and successfully completed the trek it wouldn't be the same. Because I gave up. Because I quit. The word rang through my head. Quit. I shook my head. I was not a quitter. This was nothing. A couple of hours of discomfort or a lifetime or regret. The decision was easy then. I was not a quitter and I had no plan to become one. Even if it took me another six hours to get to the top, even if I had to crawl, I would make it to the peak. I would not quit. I stood up. One foot in front of the other. Again and again and again.
I hobbled up the frozen ground making my way from one rock to another, sitting down to catch my breath and gently press my aching stomach and legs. My mind stayed blank except for the constant rhythm in my head. I will not quit. One step at a time. I will not quit. I will not quit. Time faded away and all I was aware of was my ragged gasps of breath and thundering heartbeat. And I walked. And I walked. Stopping at every rock to catch my breath and gather my strength. Stopping at every rock to remind myself to keep going no matter how slow and to start walking again with a renewed source of energy. On and on it went as I fought back the river of negative thoughts that tried to discourage me. And then I saw it. The peak. It was barely forty meters away. I resisted the urge to laugh. “Smile when you get there,” I scolded myself, but I couldn’t help it, I grinned. I pulled together my remaining energy and walked the last forty meters as fast as my throbbing legs could carry me. “You’re almost there,” I panted, “You’re almost there.” I almost collapsed as I pulled myself onto the black peak and could not stop beaming. I took in the stunningly, breathtakingly beautiful sight. It was like I had traveled to another world. The mountains seemed to be smiling down on me. I made it. I felt like I was on top of the world. I made it. And as I sat amongst the himalayan mountains I realized that even though I would remember and cherish the memory of the most magnificent view I had ever seen, the memory of the pride I felt would be more important. The memory of the fact that I persisted through the cold and the pain and the discomfort to reach my dreams. I knew I would never forget the lesson the mountains had taught me; to just grit your teeth and keep walking. One foot in front of the other.
gyanendra mocktan on October 11, 2018:
Annica Dala, thank you very much. I have got the deep feeling of that place. in your article.
Annica Dalal (author) from U.S.A on October 11, 2018:
I am glad you got something out of it!
gyanendra mocktan on October 10, 2018:
Annica Dalal, thank you for the article. I have read Sir Edmund Hillary's piece in my course book. in my school days. During those days, I read and studied it for my examination.
Then later in life, I have gone to Everest Base Bamp guiding the trekkers.
Then again I have read Edmund Hillary's piece. Then I could feel it in the real sense.
Similarly, I can feel the vibration of going there step by step. Thank you
Annica Dalal (author) from U.S.A on October 02, 2018:
Let me know how you guys likes and didn't like this article