We stumbled into Chhomrong exhausted, with our thighs burning.
We had just descended what felt like a thousand steep steps. My knees were creaking; Saffron was leaning on my trekking poles while gasping; Anker was sweaty but whistling cheerily. “We stop here,” he said, as we walked into Chhomrong.
Chhomrong was the biggest village we’d encountered since we left Ghorepani. You could probably even go so far as to call Chhomrong a town—at least by mountain standards.
Our group was resting at the top of a hill, enjoying some hard-earned rest after an hour of nonstop stair climbing. Saffron, Anker, and I had arrived at the top of the stairs to find Linjon, the sick German from Suile, and his guide already relaxing near a small lodge. They had beaten us out the gate in the morning, and we’d finally caught up.
They could not have picked a more beautiful spot to rest—although after an hour of walking up near-vertical stairs with a heavy pack, a garbage dump probably would have seemed perfect, too.
The morning after I saw the rainbow, I awoke before sunrise.
I had gone to bed early—around eight— so this wasn’t much of a surprise.
I was still shaken from my experience the day before; filled with a sense of satisfaction. I rose quietly, doing my best to let Saffron sleep. I ventured outside to relieve myself. The only toilet was occupied, so I walked a little ways off the property, and peed on the trail. It felt good; felt refreshing in the chill morning air.
I walked back to the lodge as the morning sky was beginning to fill with light. It was a clear, brisk morning. The valley was beautiful, quiet and peaceful. You could see for miles. Far off, in the distance, the distinctive silhouette of of the Fishtail poked out of the horizon. Although the real name is Machupuchre, the mountain has acquired the English nickname “Fishtail” because of its obvious resemblance, from certain angles, to a fish’s tail.
In life, we remember moments.
We may spend long hours at our work, in the library studying for school, or pouring over our computers. But these are not the things we remember when we look back on our lives. All of that drudgery fades with time, and we are left with only a few, golden moments. A relationship that is stressful and ugly becomes, in memory: a flash of a her smile; a moonlit night under under the stars in a deep mountain canyon; a shooting star; his unexpected ‘I love you.’ These are what stick, not the long, shut-down stretches of black, or the quiet evenings spent in your own head.
Suile holds the most beautiful moment of my life.
Long after the rest of the journey, the rest of the relationship, the rest of the emotions have faded from my memory, I will remember this moment. I will remember it, in crystal clear detail, until the day I die.
With the sun fully risen, people began departing from Poon Hill. The clouds were intensifying over the peaks; it didn’t look like sticking around any longer was going to yield rewards. I wandered around and took a few more photos. Sol took a few pictures of me in front of the mountains. I asked Sol if we could take a picture together, and we snapped a selfie. I look tired and scruffy, but very happy.
Tempted by the prospect of breakfast waiting for us back at the lodge, Anker, Saffron and I waved goodbye to the mountains, and began our descent.