I love hiking because when you’re in nature you really have time to think. As we marched stubbornly upwards through the steep Kali Gandaki Valley of Nepal I remember thinking , just because we don’t know where we are and neither does anyone else, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re lost.
Earlier that day we missed our exit on the main road between Tatopani and Kagbeni and had to make a decision on whether to back track and lose a day or pick a new destination and try to exit the valley from here.
‘How far to Tikot?’ we enquired of our Nepalese host at the roadside café. 4-5 hours we deciphered though I suspected that she had never had any reason to attempt the goat track that zigzagged up and away from the shadows of the valley, high into cragged peaks and isolated outposts. We made a decision and set out with enthusiasm and eagerness, determined to reach our goal with the few daylight hours we had left.
If we hadn’t already acclimatised ourselves with the previous three weeks high altitude trekking on the Annapurna circuit, the punishing uphill switchbacks would have defeated us. This walk is a lot like life. We don’t know when or how we are going to reach our destination but its important to press on anyway. Because I have a specific goal in mind I must put one foot in front of the other and be careful where I step but you know what, it never hurts to stop for a minute and take in the surrounds or even look back at how far you’ve come.
There was the abandoned stone shepherds hut with the most majestic view back to Dalagiri. Our track crossed in front of a small waterfall and into a collection of mudbrick dwellings and barns, children and chickens being ushered in by the women in the fields who turned and laughed at each other raucously when we pointed up hill and enquired – ‘Tikot?
As darkness enveloped us my lungs worked in mechanical unison with my legs and despite the burden of my pack I remember glancing across the valley and smiling, thinking that the spattering of lights from each little home were like stars randomly distributed across a moonless sky.
By the light of our headlamps we push on with blind faith that our destination will present itself despite the increasing sense of foreboding that accompanies each passing hour. Then out of the blackness emerges the light of another headlamp.
‘Namaste’ we greet each other warmly. ’You are the trekkers looking for Tikot?’
Someone from the waterfall village had called the town representative who in turn had walked 20mins into the night with his nephew to receive us. Our liberator takes us to a community hall where we share a generous meal with two other Austrian trekkers and are then appointed lodgings in a local homestay.
Just as in life, much of the time it is essential have faith that things will turn out for the best. As I sat clasping my tea in the crispness of the morning, staring across at the Annapurna range and one of the most sublime views I have ever seen it occurred to me that sometimes you need to get lost to find the things you never knew existed.