We are almost at the endpoint of our uphill climb. Of course this is a complete review of the experience and you can get my first impressions of the experience if you dig back into the archives (October). Hiking beyond Gorak Shep and proudly, yet slowly, lurching up the last mile up Kala Patthar, the excitement is mounting. Any other puns and cliches I missed, like saying “pinnacle of our journey”? But let’s hold that tension, and savor the anticipation for reaching the pinnacle of our journey. Let’s not get caught up in our fixation with reaching a single destination. There are so many fascinating tangents to our path, assuming we’re walking in a big circle, and it would be fascinating to just stop and look at the surroundings, to be mentally and physically present. Looking up we see the blue sky, a good sign that the clouds are biding time elsewhere, and generously sharing wide views of the landscape. Look left, right, and all about there are mountains, with unbelievably sharp edges, and unimaginably ancient ice packs.
Look down I see rocks, and lots of them. Most of them are coarsely cleft, and along the path they have been jostled and kicked over decades, if not centuries, of wandering creatures. Let’s get all esoteric and consider the lifetime of a lump of stone on the ground. Billions of year ago the Earth was a molten mass of igneous rock. (That’s funny if you ever saw “Police Squad”). The crust cooled and formed continents, which began to shift around. The Indian subcontinent has been hassling the Asian plate for quite a while now, and it caused Himalayan region to crumple and buckle up, forming majestic, towering earthen monoliths. Well, “mono” gives the impression that it’s just one big mountain, so lets call the entire range a “multi-lith”.
Some ardent adventurer (not necessarily human) mountaineers to the summit and knocks a rock off the top and it tumbles down, over the course of tens or hundreds of thousands of years, until it plops into a side current of a rushing glacial river. The frigid chill and the buffeting stream wears away the rough edges and slowly nudges it downward. Across seasons or high and low currents the rock, now and stone, working a career to become a pebble, reaches a quiet resting spot on the bank of a warm and still pool. A Sherpa boy, tasked with collecting small stones for building his family’s new outhouse, sets his heavy load down and sits for a moment to rest. He notices this worn but nicely shaped stone and lifts it into his pack. He brings it back home and fills in an embarrassing gap in one of the walls. Billions of years later the sun burns out and the earth collides with a massive meteor. The rock returns home to the earth’s molten mass of igneous lava. See, there’s more touching drama involved in this hike that just walking up and down a rocky trail.geology glacier gorak shep landscape