At 2am this morning the sky was clear, the stars were out and it seemed almost ashame to let a mountain with a crying problem defeat me.
So, with the help of a dry pair of pants (courtesy of our guide) and borrowed plastic bags to cover my socks in an attempt to keep my feet dry, I joined our group and trekked toward the summit.
We hiked in the dark for three hours, the ultimate sneak attack, somehow hoping that the mountain didn’t notice 105 headlamps pointed her way, or a 210 feet clamering about on what I can only assume was her chest cavity.
Miraculously, after pouring her heart out yesterday, she was feeling in a generous mood and rewarded our climb with ridiculously gorgeous views – she let every one of us trample on her rocks, pull on the ropes whose lines were drilled into her, and then scramble up her head to take pictures.
Incidentally, this was not a quick invasion – half way through the ropes bit, I thought my arms would give out, and by the time we got to the peak, we all needed to stop every five rocks. The invasion was more the “let’s plod along and see how we go” variety.
However, later, on the way down, is when I realized that she doesn’t care who climbs to the top, because she knows that they have to come down – and that’s when she brings out the big guns: stairs, stairs, more stairs, and then rocks made into “stairs”.
Today, we reached a top elevation of about 4000m, and had to decend back down to 1800m. I hiked for 12 hrs. Using walking poles, I achieved a snail’s pace and stared in awe of people walking up with concrete slabs, wooden slats and a dryer – all headed toward the hostel at the Midway point.
Those people were much stronger than me, about 3km from the end, my knees gave out – the mountain was ready to turn me into an invalid. At one point I almost cried as one of our guides told me he was proud of me, despite the fact that ten minutes ago he had taken my bag in an effort to relieve the pressure on my knees. Fifteen minutes after that, he needed to help me walk down all “stairs”, and about an hour after that I pretty much needed him just to walk.
The mountain crushed me, I’m sitting in bed half proud of myself for doing the craziest climb I’ve ever done, and half wishing I were in the shape needed to stare back at the mountain and say “what you got next?!”