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The Here and Now of Trekking: Part One

Kev Reynolds is author of 47 books, including a series of guides to major Nepal trekking routes. He has trekked in Europe, Africa and South America, and made 18 treks in the Himalaya, and is an occasional trek and tour leader for Mountain Kingdoms. Read his post about his love of trekking in The Himalayas. On his way to Rakaposhi in 1947, Bill Tilman summed up the appeal of trekking with a passage that has for me a permanent echo: ‘I felt I could go on like this for ever,’ he wrote, ‘that life had little better to offer than to march day after day in an unknown country to an unattainable goal’. (Two Mountains and a River) Those words conjure for me, the indescribably rich fragrances of a Himalayan foothill shortly after dawn. Huge spiders’ webs jewelled with dew, stretch from one poinsettia to another; the blue haze of woodsmoke hangs over a tiny thatched village; the sound of a cock crowing, neck stretched taut, brown wings flapping – and far off, way beyond an artistic landscape of terraced fields, a great arctic wall shimmers in the crisp morning light a dozen days march away. The Himalaya! In ignorance I once imagined the pure joy of trekking would only come from being among the big mountains. But that’s not so. The foothills are every bit as exciting, the middle hills just as invigorating; for each is part of the jigsaw, dependent on the others to complete the picture. Laden porters pad by smelling of cooking fires, their flip-flops slapping the clay path, loads piled high above their heads. These Himalayan juggernauts are the true heroes of trekking, and I’m humbled by their presence as I, carrying just a light pack, allow them to draw ahead. I and my fellow trekkers have time to soak up the beauty of the morning, to anticipate the day’s journey… Better still, anticipate nothing. Take this moment for the blessing it is. For trekking can be (should be) an education in the art of happiness. Living in the moment. Living for the moment. Living NOW.

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