I’ve written about the challenge, the discomfort, and the fear. I think you feel the pain and the dirt but you aren’t fully with me in Mustang yet. There is a space of exultation to which I want to take you. Pain, dirt, and gale force winds are a simple counter-balance to the often overwhelming feeling of joy and freedom I knew each day, all day.
When in life is each step an accomplishment? Think about it. It’s rare we put ourselves physically, mentally, or spiritually in such a place. On this trek each step was an accomplishment. I was so awestruck by beauty more than a hundred times a day, I didn’t know whether to run around shouting for joy or gasp in gratitude for seeing God’s face again and again revealed? This was our daily fare. I gobbled it down like a starving man.
There was also a quality of the unexpected present. Everything was a surprise from our food to the weather. I saw the Annapurna snow-packed range of mountains suddenly appear hundreds of times. Each time, “Oh my God!” would jump out of my mouth. They towered 13,000′ above us, even when we were already at 13,000′! They were either crystal clear or mystically shrouded, foggy or distant, but always shocking. In a single day, we might walk through Zion-like canyons, red rock of Sedona, canyons of the Colorado Gunnison and high desert of Nevada. Amazingly, there were some huge 500 year old trees at 13,000′. The canyon walls along our route were dotted with now-inaccessible caves. These caves, created for safety, were carved from solid rock 2,500 years ago and inhabited until this land was safely settled. One can easily imagine the brutally hard life these people lived, with water and firewood as much as an hour’s walk away.
This was The trek, our Mustang, our joy, and our accomplishment, achieved with each step, at each moment, in pain or in ecstasy.