Heights and I have always been at loggerheads. And, as much as I love mountains and all that they hold, I’ve found it hard to go beyond the point – fear takes over. My first hike, back in college, ended disastrously, with me trailing behind. I think I gave up at that point. Basil went for treks without me and I was fine with that. It’s something I didn’t feel compelled doing.

Watch tower

Years later, we planned to visit China. Not hiking the ‘Great Wall’ seemed criminal. I tried not to think much of it, until the day of the actual hike. The moment I climbed the first step, after the watch tower, I froze. The mountains and the valleys engulfed me. I wanted to cheat and take tourist snaps with the ‘Great Wall’ behind me. Basil wouldn’t have it that way. So, I walked, thinking the next watch tower would be the last. After few seconds of panic, I took another look at the mountains and stood still in the silence – everything seemed worth it. I continued walking.

The Last Stretch
The View from Above

Unfortunately, my right knee didn’t cope well with my change in spirits. At the part where the climb gets steeper, I had to quit. Ironically, at this moment, I wanted to go further. I saw school kids and other travellers climb without much effort. Why was it so easy for everyone else? I waited patiently as Basil went further and saw his form disappear behind the vertical ascent of steps. I’d made it this far and yeah, I had to get back. This time with a throbbing knee.

It was disappointing to not complete the hike. The months that followed made me more protective of my knee. I had reached a point where the fear of injury overruled the occurrence of an actual injury. Four months after our trip to China, we headed to Korea. Anyone who’s visited Seoul would know the climbing an everyday walk entails. Oddly, all the climbing aided my knee and bruised morale. We missed an opportunity of a hike along Mt.Bugaksan, but got lucky in Busan.

Empty roads ran parallel to the woods.

After a day of walking in Gamcheon and Busan’s market, we took a bus to Taejongdae National Park. Because of the rain, transport services were suspended in the park. We’d have to walk the entire stretch. It seemed easy with paved roads, that often lead to plunging valleys below. If only, we hadn’t wasted our energy in the morning.

At the Cliffs

At two points, we broke our hike and explored the rocky outcrops running parallel to the sea. The only way to exit the park was to finish the trail.

When the Lights turned on.

Few hours later, at 8 pm, we walked out of the gate. Finishing the trail was my moment of victory.

I think I’ve discovered something more than walking and exploring streets or monuments, while we travel. I don’t harbour dreams of climbing Mt. Everest or even getting anywhere near base camp. But, I do hope, I could trek the mountains ranges in the foothills of the Himalayas. Someday, perhaps.

Posted by:twobrownfeet

Writer-Photographer Duo. Now in Seoul.

20 replies on “WPC : Victory

  1. Sorry to hear you didn’t get to finish walking the Great Wall. Your poor knee, but good to hear you’re taking good care of it. Maybe going up the slope had something to do with it. I have bunions on my feet, and if I walk too fast or too long without rest breaks, the pain flares up. Maybe there is an operation you could have to make it better 🙂

  2. Hiking in mountains and hills is much better experience even though it is usually tougher vis-a-vis the paved surface. The fresh & crisp air, along with sound of bird chirping kind of keeps you going! I’m sure with better condition of knee and easy trail you will enjoy the Himalayan trails better than Great wall of China!

  3. Totally understand how you feel. I tried mountain climbing – twice – in one trip in Indonesia. Didn’t enjoy it and felt bad for my traveling companions who were so patient with me. Since then, I avoid mountain climbing though I like seeing mountains, and am ok with hiking trails (well, perhaps not too steep. If there’s a vehicle that can take me up to the top, i will be the one to sign up! 🙂

    1. I guess that’s what I did too. I said, let the car take me up. 🙂 But, I think if you go slow and take your time, mountains are fascinating to explore. A friend of mine trekked the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, and I’m so inspired. Maybe, I’ll find a middle ground. It’s something I want to do. That’s one thing that I want to strike-off in my ‘things-that-I’ve-done’ list.

      1. I like “go slow and take your time” because that what I did when I walked around in Darjeeling and Gangtok hahah..it’s uphill and downhill walk from the guesthouse to the main road 🙂 Good luck with Annapurna Circuit – yeah I heard that’s a good trek and worth to give it a shot. Cheers.

      2. We love Gangtok! I know what you mean by the uphill / downhill curves! 🙂 It’s good exercise for the calf muscles. I doubt I’ll ever do the Annapurna Circuit. I’m building castles in air! 🙂

      1. I do! Everyone fears something I guess. People find it curious that I can sail for days without sight of land in the open ocean but that I am hugely uncomfortable on planes. Thank you for sailing along with me virtually

      2. You’re journeys are truly inspirational, Lisa. I’m not sure if I would ever sail and your blog virtually allows me to do so. The sea is such a mighty beast and yet can be so calm – at times. Reminds me of ‘The Old Man and the Sea’. 🙂 I’m not the best at sea or air. But, I get by. I’ve realised, sometimes, there’s more to fear and the best way to curb it is to face it. Thanks for sharing your fears. Makes me feel a little better. Have a great weekend!

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