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Peak of endurance

By Xing Wen | China Daily | Updated: 2021-12-07 08:26

A tourist treks on the 56-km route around the mountain. [Photo photo provided to China Daily]

We soon realized that we were the only two Han people staying in the house, and the Tibetan trekkers would occasionally come to chat with us in a pleasant, approachable manner.

Although the accommodation was not as comfortable as I had hoped, I felt a sense of excitement about gaining a special life experience.

My excitement, however, didn't last long. As night fell, loud snoring arose all around, filling the room.

I had a thoroughly anxious, sleepless night.

The next day, I forced myself to gather my strength for the final 29 km. We set off at around 9 am.

With the sun shining brightly on the snow-clad summit of Gang Rinpoche, the peak seemed to turn a radiant, golden yellow. Against the backdrop of a clear, blue sky, the holy mountain looked solemn and respectful.

The splendid morning view suddenly filled me with a strong sense of awe.

As we headed up a steep climb to the Domla La Pass, the wind howled and it started to get bitterly cold.

By that point, I had to stop every few steps to greedily gulp in lungfuls of the cold, thin air.

I was haunted by a headache and tiredness, and my fingertips had taken on a bluish tint.

I found, Zhang, however, was hiking much faster than me. Obviously, his body had already adjusted to the high elevation.

The rucksack on my back seemed to grow heavier with every trudging step as I clambered up the steep slope.

At that instant, a passing Tibetan woman noticed the difficulty I was facing.

"Are you OK? Shall I carry the rucksack for you?" she asked me.

The young pilgrim looked fit and wiry. I gratefully accepted her offer of help.

"I'll leave it at the Domla La Pass," she said and then climbed up the snowy incline with vigorous strides as if it were nothing.

"What a cool woman," I thought.

After that, I started to feel much more relaxed.

When we finally reached the Domla La Pass, at an altitude of 5,630 meters, a Lama came to hand me some snacks and said: "Congratulations!"

We also shared chocolate bars with the locals as a way of celebrating our collective achievement.

The trail back down was long and treacherously slippery. However, with no more mountain sickness, I could handle it.

In the end, though, it turned out that the mountain adventure, while epic in scale, was not enough to cure my negative feelings. I would still feel down or get annoyed over trifling matters.

Yet, I often recall the gorgeous sunset we were fortunate to experience while mechanically trudging through the sun-drenched snowfield for several hours.

As the sun fell behind the snowcapped mountains in the distance, the sky was ablaze with ever-changing colors including pink, blue, purple and orange.

The dazzling descending sun shone down upon the pilgrims who were dwarfed by the grand mountains as they silently walked along the trail.

The indescribably beautiful scene made me forget, albeit for a brief while, all the pain I suffered during the trek.

An immense gratitude for nature and for my own life arose inside me. At least at that moment, I got so close to my inner peace.

What else have I gained from the trek around Gang Rinpoche? Seriously, the sunburn left me with a dark mark on my nose. I don't know when it will disappear completely.

"Take it easy. The mark is a medal Gang Rinpoche presented to you," Zhang joked.

"OK," I acquiesce, less breathlessly this time.

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