Mountains

Mountains

5 mins 21.2K 5 mins 21.2K

(Once upon a time I met a man whose sole passion was climbing mountains. You could call him a compulsive trekker I guess. Since I have always lived in the city and have very little exposure to outdoors, I asked him how mountains really are and what it feels like climbing them. There came a sudden wistful look in his eyes and this is what he had to say)

‘Having spent sufficient times in the mountains, I feel I know them a little better than most other folk. When I say mountains, I don’t mean the tourist destinations such as Dehradun, Shimla or Nainital. I mean those real, rugged and desolate mountains which are located in the far and remote fringes of our country. When you come to think of it the mountains happen to be quite different from all other manifestations of nature; in  particular, they are too stoic and bear all elements of weather and extremes of mercury in the most quiet and unassuming manner. Look at the oceans, they rise and fall with the phases of the moon; the rivers make so much noise as they rush through the boulders; the forests are changing with every change of season ; think of the winds – they howl so much. But come to the mountains - and you have these unchanging giants who never utter a word as they stand unaffected for centuries.

Whether you take up sailing, surfing, micro lite flying or scuba-diving; none of them I guess draws as much sweat as the mountains draw from you. Climbing any mountain requires deliberate planning - as to what you’ll wear, carry or eat. Where you’ll halt; where should you have reached by night fall and so on? You forget one little thing and it can abort your entire effort and may even endanger your life. All this adds further to the thrill and charm of mountains. From whatever distance you look at them they are looking back at you; and you can feel a challenge being cast at you in their loud yet silent voices. They dare you with their characteristic calm and serenity. Having climbed quite a bit of mountains myself, I retrospect that after a certain amount of climb there comes a threshold where each mountain having exhausted your energy reserves, dares you to climb further. It is the stage where your knees feel like jelly; your breath seems to be running out faster than the money in your bank; your chest feels ready to burst and other similar trepidations hit you all together. However if at this point you can turn a deaf ear to your body, keep yourself stable on your feet and somehow manage to walk a few more minutes; believe me, before you realize you would have crossed the threshold and achieved the critical mass required to explode your way to the top.   

So each mountain tests you, your physical stamina and your mental fortitude. Mountains in a way can even grow on you like women – whom you don’t really crave but have simply got used to - keeping away draws you back. Slowly you start to enjoy the sheer exhaustion and the tremendous sweat they draw from you. As you tire, your mind swears never to climb a mountain again; but I have found this feeling to be very short lived and it goes away as soon as you have recovered your poise. When you are really tired in the middle of a climb, even a harmless gentle slope can convincingly give you the same painful pleasure as scaling the Kanchenjunga.

Every mountain seems beautiful from far, but only those who have climbed some of them - know the real labour involved in approaching and scaling such beauties. Generally in life, one side of the journey is always easy; but so far as climbing a mountain goes, getting down from it is equally tough. In fact, getting down a mountain can be even tougher; every single ounce of your body throws its full weight on the poor wobbling knees. Notwithstanding the pain and the sweat, the mountains quiet often even evoke a soft romanticism in the human heart and stimulate philosophical musings.

I think the mountains and the clouds are the best of friends; you can always see them engrossed in a silent exchange of secrets over the peaks. Then there are those valleys and passes amidst the high mountains, which I think God made only to serve the purpose of a permanent abode to the clouds. At the end of a long day, you will invariably find the clouds coming back and settling into these valleys. In the morning they get up and carry-on to where ever they are supposed to be going; but always return by night fall without exception. In fact I like to believe that the same clouds live in the same valleys, from the moment they are born till they grow up and eventually die. Though on the face of it you might think that a mountain is a dead creature, but suddenly in a quiet spot you will find a bubbly spring breaking through its skin; reminding you that forces of nature are very much active beneath the hard exterior.    

The mountains may be ‘unchanging’; but quiet like us they are prey to cosmetics. In winters, once snow-covered, they seem simple and honest. You can see far and clear. Come spring; the snow melts and vegetation abounds - the same mountains become thick with undergrowth and heavy foliage; they now seem full of mysteries and hide more than what they reveal.

You can never take the mountains for granted; you have got to learn their language. Taking them lightly can cost you your life. Yes, the mountains are surely difficult creatures to know; but once you strike a rapport, you just can’t let go. They beckon you and you will see yourself succumb time and again, despite the swearing and the sweat.’


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