“I am feeling so tired right now” were the first words I wrote in my sketchbook which would detail my journey to Baiyan Top. It was 6:00 a.m. as we boarded the bus for an 8-hour journey to our campsite. I was pretty excited and wanted to keep an open mind. Otherwise, I knew I would not like it at all. I got my trekking bag, my water, and everything else in between. I felt determined and excited. What would happen in the next 7 days? Would I make more friends? Would I give up? Would I survive? All these questions were going to be answered soon.
After 8 long, tiring hours sitting on the bus, we finally made it to our first campsite. We were settled on what seemed like the side of a mountain. We could see larger, intimidating mountains, foreshadowing what I thought the future held. I felt kind of scared at the moment. I’d never completed such an intense trek like this. I didn’t know how to feel. Scared? Excited? I wasn’t really sure at the time.
My tentmates and I received our tent and started setting it up. With experience, this part was the easiest for us. It felt like we were pros at this already. After the tent set up, we were greeted with tea and cookies from the chefs that were with us. As I took the first sip of the hot tea, my whole body had a nice warm feeling.
While sipping the tea, I thought about how new this experience was going to be. I’ve never been on a trip like this before. I was afraid. But sitting there, looking at the beautiful mountains, I realised it couldn’t be that bad. With that thought, I jumped into my sleeping bag, closed my eyes, and dreamed of summiting.
The second-day dawning, my whole body was aching and my nose was running. I got up, and the air was freezing. I couldn’t feel my face at all. Everything including my nose and arms felt numb. Everyone else started waking up, and nearly all of them had the same reaction as me. We packed our tents, our bags, had breakfast, then we started off for the next campsite.
We saw many attractions as we were walking; we saw a flower field, some villages, and a really loud and rocky river. A dog joined us on our trek as well, and we named him Fluffy. He was our moral support during the first hike. I liked him a lot, though he was really dirty. As the walk kept going, I began feeling really tired. My legs started to ache, and everyone wanted to take breaks. However, a few of my friends and I tried to keep going even though our bodies needed a break. I had never felt this way before. My breathing was very heavy, my whole body was aching, and it felt like I would collapse at any moment. But with determination, we kept going and finally made it to the second campsite. I felt accomplished. I ate my trail mix as a little reward. It felt really good!
But after a few minutes, our chaperones wanted to have a little talk with us. They were disappointed in us because of the number of breaks we took and our negative attitude towards the hike. One chaperone, Mr. L, told us that we were lacking the determination to finish the first part of the trek. He told us to not only follow what our minds were telling us to do but follow our hearts.
His words made all of us think. We now knew that we didn’t want what happened on the first day to happen again.
Exhausted, and with this on our mind, we went to our tents to sleep. That night, I was up late, just thinking about what had happened on our first day. It reminded me of the many times I was disappointed in myself for not finishing homework, or not doing as well on a project, whether it would be related to art or school. And it really had me thinking, how could I change this? I slept on the question, unable to come up with an answer.
The next day, we woke up and did the exact same things, but with a little more positivity. Then we set off. We walked along with another group that was following the same route as us. We finally made it to the camp, but this time, it felt like we actually came through. We didn’t ask for that many breaks, and we had been positive. That felt awesome.
The fourth day was when we decided to hike up to one of the peaks. I started off with nothing but my jackets and a water bottle. We walked through steep trails surrounded by many trees that look like they would never stop. This was the most challenging part of the trek. I cannot explain how tired I felt climbing the steep trail. But I still tried to be as positive as I could. I was drinking water non-stop, and I was running out. I ate gum to try and combat my heavy coughing.
We made it to the base camp for the summit after 2-3 hours. We had a choice to either stop here and rest or go to the summit. So I thought to myself, “We’ve come too far to stop now. I want to go to the top.” I wanted to feel the satisfaction of having made it to the top. So I, along with three others, decided to summit.
My friend Naoki and I decided to take the longer route. We decided to make it to the summit together. We often rested, but we kept going. We weren’t going to return without reaching that summit. We finally made it, and the view from the top was breathtaking. I could see everything. I felt on top of the world. The sun was resting on my face as I lay on the grass with my sunglasses, feeling accomplished.
When I started, I didn’t know how important this week would be for me. It taught me to aim high and never give up. I’ve had many problems recently where it feels like I can’t do anything. It’s like I have wanted to do something but my mind told me that I couldn’t. This trek opened me up to try new and different things and to challenge myself more. It gave me the answer to a question I’ve been asking myself, “How do I do better?” I decided the answer was to challenge myself.
I remember something my chaperone, Mr. L, said, “You can have lunch at any time, but this summit is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Raymond Chirwa is a staff reporter
Photos by Raymond Chirwa
Edited by Janvi Poddar