Sunday, October 15, 2017

Poonhill, Nepal - My Mountaintop Experience

It may have been 430 in the morning, and I may have climbed 3000 steps the day before, and my body may have wanted to stay lateral for many more hours, but I rose. I stirred my partner and knocked on the paper thin hostel dorm wall to wake our friend,  and we pulled on our boots, unplugged the camera from its charger, and waited anxiously for our guide to meet us for the pre dawn walk to Poonhill.

Joining the possible 500 other trekkers doing the same pre dawn walk, we marched in an honourable silence, some with headlamps, others enjoying the moonlight path ahead. There were moments when the shrubbery holding us in, opened to glimpses of a pre dawn deep valley below up, and towering peaks above. The respectful crowds stopping just off the path to get that snap, or just to take a breath. We climbed for 45 slow and steady minutes to get to the summit at 3,200 meters. (Just for a reference point, the highest point in Australia is just 2,228 m)

This was both, the highest point we were going to get to on this trek, and the highest point in this, my post operative journey.  I'm a goal setter, and along time ago, I had set myself the goal of doing the Camino Pilgrimage this year, but having time off work for my hip replacement, meant I couldn't have the time off also for the full Spanish holiday I wanted. Next best thing, climb a mountain!! And I did. (Although for Nepalese standards, Poonhill is not a mountain).
 We stood at the top of Poonhill and watched, in awe, as the clouds sank or parted, and the sun rolled across the Peaks of the Annapurna Ranges. The Tibetan Prayer Flags, flapping in the light breeze reminded us of the mountain people & their faith and respect for the mountains. There something amazing about being with other like minded people, from around the globe, with no common language, just taking in the glory of a sunrise.

Our little party, guides and trekkers, took selfies, snapped photos from every vantage point and angle, but eventually you couldn't take anymore photos, it was time just to sit and be. (Luckily for my partner, there was a little tea stand on the top of that hill with hot coffee on offer).

We were on the top of Poonhill for probably 90 mins, before the steep stepped walk back to our trekkers lodge (teahouse) for a big breakfast. But those 90 minutes were really special. It was a time to reflect on just how big our world is, how diverse we all are, but yet how much were are the same. I saw the beauty of the pristine mountain ranges around us, and was reminded of what we do to the lands we have ready access to and how we must care and respect the earth in the places we live. Rescuing damaged lands is not an easy thing and protecting and maintaining natural environments is so important.

I was encouraged to come home and make a place where I will focus on these reflections, where I can find peace in my place, where I can remember and honour the people of the world.
When I share photos of Poonhill with others who have been there, they all gasp as they recall their own experience of being ontop of this hill. I hope I will be the same for along time.