KATHMANDU: For a very long time, I had been meaning to get away from all the noise around me. All that was happening around me had consumed me and I needed a breath of fresh air. So, this Saturday I decided to take that time for myself and go on a hike, alone. Yes, I went on a hike alone with some people I did not know. The idea of solo hiking turned out to be just what I needed to reset my mind.
I woke up at 5:30 in the morning, freshened up, packed my lunch and reached Bhrikutimandap at 6:30. I got on a bus, chose a window seat and waited anxiously for the bus to move. As I knew nobody there, I was sitting alone and contemplating about how the hike would turn out. As I waited, I remembered the first time I went to college. Like the hike, I had chosen to go alone there too. The nervousness was quite similar as I sat among new, unfamiliar faces, with no one beside me.
The bus started to move and the seat beside me was still empty. I took out a book I had been reading and was almost convinced that I would be travelling alone till the end. By nature, I was not ready to strike up any conversation, and by need, I was not ready to back out on my journey.
About one-and-half hour later we reached Dhulikhel, the starting point of our hike. Everyone got off the bus and I could see people in blue t-shirts going uphill; talking and laughing with those they had come with. I was still alone and with earphones playing my songs, I too started walking. And I did not leave that opportunity to post it on my social media pages.
There were people walking ahead of me. And one by one, I went ahead of them as I strode forward smiling at those foreign faces. We got a small briefing on our first stop and were advised what not to do in the hike like travelling alone or littering.
The hike resumed and we travelled the ups and downs, the turns and straight roads. The view of Himalayan range was amazing. Everybody stopped, took a few snaps and started guessing which peak was which; trying to identify them by their names. It was then that I made few conversations with others and started walking with them.
We shared our stories and talked about our interests along the way. And I came to know they had come with friends and family but were walking separately. They were regular hikers and had been with ‘Hike For Nepal’ (the organizers) for quite a long time and knew each other well. It was new for them to hear that I had come alone in my first hike with HFN.
We reached our next point, the Dhulikhel tower. Everybody took a small break; some took time to eat and rehydrate; others climbed the tower to enjoy the view. I sat at the bottom with a friend and enjoyed the view, pondered long on everything that had happened in my life and took long breath of fresh air. After another half-an-hour or so of walking it was lunch time. We made a big circle and everyone shared their food; taking bites from every lunch box.
Then started the harder part of the journey. The uphill and downhill were fine, but the never ending staircases drained my energy. Just when I would think it ended, another flight of stairs would come in front of me. I drew some long breaths and took a few stops, but I wanted to get over with the stairs as fast as possible and I kept going.
Seeing someone in front of me, I did not want to quit, and seeing those stopping, I felt the sense of achievement as I passed them. Finally, the stairs ended and we took a break.
It was the final phase of our hike and we were heading to Nagarkot. There was an hour of hike through the jungles, where I got to observe the nature up close and got some insight on their medicinal uses from another fellow hiker. It took me down the memory lane and I recalled the trips I took with my family during my childhood where the elder members would impart their knowledge. The road was a bit slippery here and there and I realized I should have worn shoes with a better grip.
We finally reached our destination for the day, the Nagarkot tower, at three in the afternoon. The hike ended with a loud cheer and a photo session. After having a light meal, we boarded a bus to return to Kathmandu and reached here at six in the evening.
The hike was no less than a reflection of my life. There were ups and downs, it was full of exciting turn of events and I met like-minded people, and those who shared my interests. Some motivated me while some helped me get up when I slipped, some walked with me while some did not, some left me behind and some I left behind.
Just like surpassing the difficulties in life, I had walked ahead during the hike. But most of all, it was about embarking on a journey for myself, for my inner peace and for what made me happy. Even without anyone to accompany me, I realized I have to continue my journey, even if it means I have to do it alone.
– By Nasana Bajracharya for REPUBLICA