From the top of the mountains – Walking alone

During my trek, I realised that my decision of walking alone which seemed evident to me questions and sparks various reactions among people I encounter on the way.

 

There are the men of a certain age who mumble behind my back: « A women alone on the plateau…”

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From the top of the mountains

I am writing from the top of the mountains. I wanted to end my sabbatical year the way I started it: walking.

So I left my on-going packing boxes activity and I took again my backpack. I put on my shoes and I went for 3 days through the Vercors highlands. This time, no villages around, I had to prepare my trek thoroughly. I am carrying my food for 3 days in my bag. I also have 2 detailed maps and above all I know exactly where the springs are. I know which one are still flowing and which one have already gone dry.

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In Andean Argentina

I am walking ahead of the group. We are hiking in the Andes. We are 4 french: 3 guys I met at the hostel and myself. This moring a lady told us about this trail which goes up the crest.

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The earth is green and red, depending on the stratum and above all it is extremely crumbly. From far away the crest appears as fine and fragile as  lace. From time to time I stop and wait for the rest of the group who films, takes pictures and jokes. At the beginning of the crest Vincent opens the way, there is a bit of wind, I don’t feel reassured, but I follow. Everyone speaks a lot, I don’t feel confortable at all. We do a small break, someone asks « Everyone’s ok? », my legs are shaking. I answer that I am not. Indeed I feel suddenly so tall…too tall, as if I was miles above the ground that I am treading upon. I have the impression that if a gust of wind makes me loose my equilibrium, my hands would need so much time to reach the ground and stabilise that I would have most probably tumble down the mountain already. I say « I know it is in my head but… » Someone cuts me « It doesn’t matter, use your hands too! On all fours, let’s go ! ».

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So I do: I use my hands to help myself and try to not think  about the risks I am exposing myself to. On the middle of the way there is a big stone. I sit there and for a moment listen to my companions. And finally I  gather my thoughts: I am determine to finish this crest on my 2 legs. I study the ground as if I was  taming the slope on the right, and the slope on the left. Then I focalise my gaze on the little track, just wide enough for one foot. I straighten up and I progress completely focused. One step after the other. I walk slowly, up to the end of the crest. It feels like I am doing my first steps again. I feel determined, focused, bit prouder at each one of my steps and then it feels like a liberation. I surpassed myself! I fight my fear and I won. To the point that I am tempted to go back by the same way, just to savoure the fact that I -can -do- it!

I haven’t felt such a sensation of surpassing myself since a long time and I like it. It gives me the taste of risks and success. And what actually remains deeply anchored in me from the experience is this learning: to success it is imperative to focus on my way…only on my way.

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