A PEAK EXPERIENCE


Lambri Peak (12,5000 feet), visible from our mountain home, is a place that has beckoned to me for 10 years. I still recall my first vision of it: the sun had set in our village and all was dark except the peak, like Parvati’s two breasts, lit up brightly, glowing warmly in the cool night air. Payson has been up there eight times, almost yearly, and this year, yes, last week in fact, I went up there, too.

It was the most challenging thing i have done in my life. At almost 65 I doubted I could do it. But on an impulse, the weather being good, I said, let’s do it. We packed for two days — Himmat, our all around man, master hiker, cook, guide, packed all the tents and food and on Wednesday the 22nd of May, we started up.

the first hour was the hardest, and when we got to a steeply rocky incline past the village of Sajwaad, I was so tired i was beginning to lose my balance. we stopped for half an hour and ate our breakfast of aloo ka paranthaas and karelas which Raju had made for everyone the night before. Four people took up our gear of tents, sleeping bags, food, and there was enough food to go around. I ate and drank my sweet tea, sugar flavored with tea leaves, in silence and we started again. My left arm started to hurt and I said to myself “f—-, I’m going to have a heart attack and then they are all going to have to carry me down!” But I persevered, resting frequently. I was so grateful I had brought both my hiking poles and that my boots, though old, were comfortable and solid. Though I was told by Payson that we would come to a place that wasn’t a climb but an easy zig zag, we never came to it. it was straight up and up through no distinct path in the forest. I lay down at one point but was uncomfortable, my whole body sliding down the incline. there was no level ground to rest. a few times I thought, I’m not going to be able to do this, but I persevered. when the oak forest began there was some respite in the heat but none in the climbing. we climbed for seven hours straight, and towards the end I was groaning in pain and was certain that Himmat and Payson had lied to me about how far it was. Just when I thought we had arrived there was another hill to climb — and no gentle, rolling hill, these. When Himmat told me we had arrived I didn’t believe him. But there, over a peak and down the mountain were our two tents, all pitched by the party that had preceded us. Our campsite was by a tiny little rivulet flowing in its stone basin.

More to follow.  

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