Two of the seniors offered to take Melissa and me on a much needed hike in the woods. After two weeks of city dust and mayhem, we were thrilled to get out our hiking boots and get into some nature. We were brought to Shivapuri National Park, a world of quiet, lush green hills, white waterfalls and red dirt trails shimmering with mica. We climbed what felt like a thousand stone steps before we reached the trail, drenched in sweat and rain.
The peace was enormous— it felt tangible; there was a weight to it, and it filled my lungs, belly and head. As we climbed into the clouds, I felt like I would disappear— evaporate into those clouds and be carried away somewhere far and foreign. I felt the valley and I felt the hill, the distinction between my flesh and the soil became less clear.
I was returned to the red glittering trail, now muddy with intensifying rain, by the voices and footsteps of travellers. Sure feet, in flimsy shoes, carrying wiry bodies laden with all manner of bag, basket and container, filled to capacity. I was in awe, standing there in my cushioned hiking boots, with my little bag that contained a camera, sketchbook, pens and a water bottle— how could I ever complain again? How could I ever moan about my feet or the weight of a bag when people who could be my grandparents are hiking for days— sometimes weeks— in flip-flops, with massive, overflowing baskets strapped to their foreheads?
As I stopped to make way for the women in the photograph to pass, my eyes met another deep brown pair, and I sensed a familiarity in those eyes— I don't know why. But it made me smile.
I received one in return.