Hemis Sukpachin, India.
It is 6.24 in the morning. I am in the kitchen of a Ladakhi family in Hemis Sukpachin. The woman of the house is making tiapati’s for breakfast: flat bread the size of a breakfast plate. I feel quite rested and I will head back to Leh in an hour from now.
Yesterday’s hiking partners are still fast asleep in the room we shared together. We walked for 6 hours. Although we now did the official baby hike
We did not get lost as I did in my first hiking day it was still tough. Walking for many hours in this high altitude is exhausting, especially the parts where you have to ascend.
I met the three guys in the place where I stayed yesterday. They will continue for 2 or 3 more days. The reason why I go back to Leh is fore mostly because I want to give my body some rest. The first day I dug a bit too deep and although nothing happened yet I can feel that the soles of my feet want to develop blisters. Also, and this was to be expected, I got spoilt on the first day by accidently taking a route that was even unknown to the locals. The surroundings were so stunningly beautiful! The ‘baby track’ we followed yesterday is the old footpath from village to village. Only now electricity poles mark it and on your right hand you will have a perfectly fine road. It is not a very busy road but no local will walk anymore what you nowadays can do by car, truck or bus. Only the Westerners do. The illusion of being alone in the wilderness is effectively diminished. Finally, the track itself was not that beautiful although looking in the far distance into every direction is magnificent. But it is just not tempting enough to make me want to walk on blisters for the next coming days.
There is something about hiking that I am not getting yet. Climbing, ascending, is just not funny. On both days I had moments that I felt I was about to collapse. I ask myself what it is that I am doing here. I move in tiny steps, am hardly making any progress, am out of breath and the muscles in my legs are burning like hell. It is impossible to enjoy the scenery, I can only look at the top and hope there will not be another climb around the corner.
But then, when you make it to the top, and you look into a beautiful valley and see that the way is a friendly and slopey decline, everything is forgotten. The feet don’t hurt anymore, the backpack is not so heavy anymore.
(I continue writing after arriving back in Leh).
A friendly and beautiful mind (I wanted to write ‘man’ here but I think this Freudian typo should not be corrected) offered me to guide me towards the main road. For some reason the bus that we should have taken had left half an hour earlier than normal so we just missed it. He invited me to his house. Turned out he was a 68-year-old Tibetan medicine doctor. I asked him for the meaning of life. He said “life simple, help others”. When he took me to the road his pass was so sturdy that I had a hard time keeping up with him. He helped me to get a ride. Two young guys dropped me off at some junction where a truck took me to Leh.
Going from adventure to adventure is a wave in itself. Everywhere are people helping, assisting, beds, meals and means of transportation materialize everywhere. And to go back where I left this morning: when I got of the truck, setting my feet on city ground again, I could feel the difference. Walking many hours through nature works on us and we only really notice that something has changes until we are back in the place where we came from. I remember the first time I had this feeling. It was after a 2-day walk through the Venezuelan jungle with my two buddies Bas and Ed. The moment we surfaced from the forest and set foot on the asphalt of the road to the village we simultaneously realized how different we felt. I felt open, spacious and connected, strong and peaceful.
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