Branches intertwined their gnarled fingers above us, creating a canopy under which to plod steadily upward. The coolness was a welcome respite, and the darkness made the deep pink blossoms appear more vibrant.
Trekking the Himalayas in May means you use your rainproof gear more than you would than in crisp dry October. However in May, along with the rain, you also have a chance of flowers.
And they are everywhere. From a purple flower no bigger than half your pinky nail, which sprouts wherever it can in the rocks, to the rhododendrons, which pour across the trails and down the cliffs like waterfalls.
The trails themselves, which I’ve stared at for days now, look as if they’ve been sprinkled with fairy dust. Whatever rocks these are that we crush with our feet and hiking poles, have a fine silver powder that shines in the sunlight. The rocks themselves have changed from gray/black to the striated blue of a dipped Easter egg. And everything is covered in dust. But sometimes, you step on a Boulder and realize it is blue or pink.
Peaks like Ama Dablam jut out like teeth lost by giants. Nuptse and Kongde Ri make you stop to say “It’s beautiful! Will you take my picture?” And Everest grows larger with each step. The greatest of them all seems to make its own weather. When you see the clouds and the wind pummeling it, you have a deep respect when you hear four people made the summit yesterday.
However, what doesn’t make the news is that the trail itself holds so much beauty, it can’t be contained in words.
I fought nausea the entire 800 meter ascent after lunch to Tengboche. Thank god for the shade of the rhododendrons. Thank god there were no mule trains choking us with dust. For the entire ascent, the group was quiet. Either they were lost in thought, or simply using all their breath to keep moving. To keep my mind off my immediate problems, I chanted Om Tare Tuttare Ture Swaha.
This mantra of the green Tara is something I had listened to during times of stress or anxiety. The singsong nature of the chant has a calming effect on me. In this case, it helped me forget I felt like throwing up at each turn. This chant is supposed to bring instant protection and help from the green Tara.
I’m not an expert on Buddhism and I have little clue about the many different types of Buddhism. For me, I believe these figures like the green Tara (or white or red Tara) are symbols for what we can find within ourselves. The physical task of ascending 800 meters in two hours compounded with queasiness was alleviated by tapping into this inner green Tara.
I feel that prayer of any kind isn’t so much a Batman beacon, but a way for you to step into the phone booth and come out Superman. Meditation (or prayer, if that’s your thing) gives you mental strength to overcome challenges.
So, after my journey along the elven path, you now find me at Rivendell Lodge in Deboche, which sits at 3820 metres (12,532 feet). It is a rest day. A day to let our hearts and blood cells get used to the altitude.
I will try and take more pictures today. Yesterday I was concentrating on surviving.
Some of you are going to ask, “Do you even know what you’re chanting? You could be calling down demons.” Trust me, if I had that power I would’ve used it before now. To ease your minds, here’s a link where you can learn more about green Tara and what I’m saying along the path.