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Photo by Kendall Marianacci, Nepal Semester.

The Hard Part

The thing about trekking, which you might not have heard, is that it’s hard. That trekking is really, really hard seems to be agreed on by everybody who has something to say about it. Which is not surprising, because it is rarely fun to complain about easy things.

What people can’t seem to agree on is why it’s hard.

When you walk (and walk, and walk) along the trail, you find yourself shifting complaints more often than your pack. First, it’s the boredom. The way the scenery blends together, and the resemblance the third breathtaking view has to the two before it.  Then it’s the weight, the way it multiplies itself by the miles traveled, and how it always concentrates just where you want it least.  At some point, sometimes sooner, sometimes later, it’s the pain; the way a hot spot evolves into a blister (think of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, except your foot is the cocoon) or how an ache becomes two aches and then three and then there’s more ache than places to put it.

But none of that is hard.

You keep walking because you have to. You signed up for the trek, but abandoning it is not on the table. Having something done to you is never hard.

The hard part comes three weeks later. You’re carrying your pack on your last walk in Kathmandu. You’re realizing that a thirty minute walk with 30 pounds on your back isn’t so bad, for some reason.

And you stop, because the hard part is admitting that you’re a stronger person for the pain. That every ache made today’s bruises less noticeable, that every pound carried for three days makes today’s more burden lighter, and that every beautiful moment reminds you of another just as precious.

That’s the hard part. It stays for ten minutes. Then it’s over, and you keep walking, because that’s all there is to it.