Jan 29, 2011

The other Bigs of the Himalayas

All distances are incredibly big and measured not it metric but in time.

Rivers are big.
Pine cones are enormous.
Cultural differences with Europeans are huge.

Thorns of thorny bushes are BIG

Since childhood I know that raspberry brush stings and to avoid scratching it's better not to make too sudden a movement when picking berries. In France I made a new enemy when on several unfortunate occasions I bumped into and made "friends" with raspberry's big bad brother the blackberry. By now I know better than to run into the bushes too hastily without checking out the territory first. In the Indian Himalayas though I had a chance to bump into their even bigger and badder uncle - and that one's ot to be messed with. I pray that I never have to make a personal encounter with their godfather, in whichever remote corner of the world he might be lurking.

There I was, looking for a way downhill and picking paths - wherever I could find one - leading in the general direction of gravitation at any possible angle short of a freefall. For a considerable distance I followed a dry stream bed, scrambling down across loose rocks. The plan was good but it didn't take me all the way down for soon this path too was blocked by thickly entwined overgrowth hanging across from both sides. I didn't fancy crawling through the most vicious combination of stinging nettles and thorny bushes on earth.

The only alternative route meant serious bushwhacking. I felt like a tiny rabbit, popping my rucksack through gaps between branches and then wriggling through myself; or sliding on my back on loose rocks under bushes and generally moving much too carefully and slowly to get out of there before dark. I got whiplased by monstrous inch-thick stalks of stinging nettle armed with overgrown spikes that hurt like hell and grabbed by the biggest thorns I have ever seen attached to a branch. My efforts were futile. Finally on the verge of desperation, stuck in the middle of some tangled mesh of vegetation, hands up as if held at gunpoint and too scared to move, I fished my jacket carefully out of my rucksack, put it on in slow motion and then, covered head to bum with thick gore-tex, simply forced my way through to the clear ground.

Another experience gained.

How I ended up in this jungle in the first place, is the usual story. It started with a brisk walk up the first steep grassy hill at sight, while local fauna kept itself busy, grabbing my legs as means of cheap transportation to new seeding grounds. Since it was my first time being alone off-road in the mountains, it didn't really occur to me that if I need to use my hands for support on the ascent then descent by the same route would be nearly impossible.

It took me three hours to climb up before reaching the heavenly spheres of no other sounds but my own footsteps and the wind in the treetops. Such total silence took me by pleasant surprise. Though I had missed the calm of Northern Europe, I couldn't quite remember any more how it feels like. Back again in Europe, I find the actual noise levels of Indian towns hard to remember, but I haven't forgotten how deeply the contrast struck me when I first stepped out of civilization that day.

The magnifiscent views that rolled out in front of me were instant creators of peace of mind. All of them for me, me and only me! Who would need TV until there are sunny mountains to climb and look at? I never wanted to go back into the town, but sadly I always needed to. What bitter regret I felt, thinking of my lack of trekking equipment - the fact that nailed me to the spot and prevented me from doing anything more ambitious than daytrips. Next time, I will sacrifice the pleasures of travelling lightly and bring a heavy rucksack full of equipment to allow me to stay outdoors for as long as I feel like.

Despite their best efforts, a few thorny bushes didn't stand a chance against those awesome views.


Siim said...

Love the views. Next time I'm coming with you :P

Triin said...

oraight. millal sul aega on?:P

Siim said...

Natuke suvel (kardan, et liiga vähe). Gröönimaal vaevalt jõuaks vahepeal käia.
Järgmine kevad see-eest aega küll. (Esialgu plaan siis Erasmusesse minna).
Mis su plaanid üldse ette näevad? Rootsi/Norra kooli peale suusaparadiisis elamise?
Ps. tahaks Val d'Isere'st ka pilte näha.

Triin said...

pole aimugi, mis plaanis. töötan alternatiivide väljatöötamise nimel. pilte... ehk saab kunagi:P kaunis koht on ja ma käin ka iga päev erinevas kohas mäe otsas kaugemale piilumas. peaks vist jälle seebika kaasa vedama.