The Hike across Sierra Nevada

Update for week ended 28 January 2011

Dan was going through his mid-life crisis and having lost his dear father recently and the tumultuous turn his love life was heading to, he was edgy. Dan was otherwise a physically strong man, having been part of the college basketball team and physically active even after that. He would participate in all the triathlons, especially in New Zealand and Australia. His passion for swimming started in school and he continued to swim with the sharks. But this depression was a difficult phase, he would stay awake all night and see black dreams – even cry without any reason. But being a person of steel, he decided that the only way out of this was to undertake a physical task that would detach him from the world – for the moment at least. So he decided to cross the Sierra Nevada. For a person like him, this could be done within 5 days, with the right equipment and it would be a breeze. He informed his office colleagues who cheered him on and also helped in getting his gear for the trip – some people also arranged for the freeze-dried food that would sustain him through the journey. On day one, his colleague dropped him off at base camp and Dan did not find the initial trek difficult. The weather was pleasant and his limbs were all excited to give his heart a boost that he needed. That night he slept under the stars, in his sleeping bag, and relived his college days of night-sky reading – as he traced the constellations and a stray shooting star. His spirits were lifting already. Day 2 saw him wake up early with the sunrise, and head northwards towards Lake Italy. That would be his peak before crossing over the saddle to get to the east. He enjoyed his climb, until grey clouds gathered overhead and without any warning, a storm blew right in from the Pacific. Winds at 80 mph were howling at this height and Dan could not stand straight and in his hurry to reach the lake and perhaps a log cabin by it to rest at night, he slipped over a slippery crag and fell, breaking his compass, and right wrist while hitting his eyebrow on a sharp ledge. The throbbing pain in his wrist and the trickling blood from his face made it difficult for him to move fast. The sleet was giving way to icy snow and the winds were stinging his face. If Dan stayed where he was, he would die of frost bite, so he covered his head and using his left hand, started finding his way forward, holding to the side of the mountain for support. But without a compass for guidance and the blinding snow making visibility at this altitude almost negligible, he used his instincts to move ahead. But he slipped a couple of times, to tumble onto a ledge – which thankfully broke his fall that could have been fatal. That night – Dan truly slept under the star-lit sky, but was miserable. He cried again, but not our of depression, but desperation. He was hurt, lost, had no communication, and that bargain for a cheap compass could cost him quite a lot – even his life. He did not sleep that night, partially because of the cold, but mostly because of fear that he would not see any of his friends or family ever again. He had realized that he was truly lost, because by now he should have crossed the lake. Day 3 and Day 4 were only spent in trying to retrace his steps – but the lethal combination of injury, desperation, depression was not helping him to think straight. He tried to head eastward, but the sheer drops, slippery rock faces, and inept hands kept him sliding downwards till he just stopped on the rock outcrop, and lay on the ground, tired, hurt and not anywhere near the state of exaltation that he desired to be at the end of the five days!

The D Street Boyz seem to be fighting their inner demons this week. They initially headed to the café on the rooftop of their office building to try and drink a few shots of caffeine to boost their sagging spirits. But that did not sustain as they battled inner fears, and stumbled and tumbled on their ways down the stairwell. At times, stumbling, slipping, tumbling down, and the in the bargain bruising their hands and heads. And even before they could recover, a few shoves and pushes from the surging horde of D Boyz behind, snowballed them into a moving mass of legs and hands and torsos downwards. Even good news from their American friends the W Street Boyz did not seem to shake off the depression and assuage the hurt D Boyz. 700 odd steps down and they were clutching to the SENSEX at 18396, looking forward to some hope and help. Their positive attitude was still intact.  

Dan was waiting for help now. He did not know where it would come from, but his positive side always hoped for the good. He nibbled at the chocolates his friends had packed for him. A teardrop trickled down his left cheek, he smiled and knew that there would be a good ending to his ordeal. And he was right, he heard a distant roar that sounded like a rotor blade. He nodded, picked up a torn red scarf from his backpack, and tied it to his walking stick, and stuck it in a crevice at the highest point of his ledge.

And just as we, at times, battle with our demons, must always remember that positive sunshine will shine on us. The dark night will never be forever. There is always light at the end of the tunnel; but one must always stay clear of the railway tracks within and step aside …..

Have a nice and safe weekend – Cheers.


4 thoughts on “The Hike across Sierra Nevada

    1. Thanks, Saurabh. But as we speak , it seems to have pulled back some of the losses. But as I always say, the D Boyz have a mind of their own and they do what they have to do!!


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