I had both set out alone, days before. I had left the security of Pokora to follow the famous Annapurna trail through the Himalayan mountains, aiming for the Thorong La Pass at 18,000 feet. I had been warned the pass was closed due to the recent bad weather, but with rumours of Alpine guides having been rescued by Helicopter that week this had just added to the adventure. I had not appreciated the danger, for when you are young you believe you are immortal, rashness is yet to be replaced by experience and responsibility, so I had set out into the virtual unknown, telling himself that I could turn back at any point. How bad could it really be?
The first few days the going had been fairly easy going, the snow covering everything, but manageable. Nights were spent in deserted guesthouses, manned by the owners, and perhaps a child or two. Each village would only have one place open to stay, the vast majority of people having moved down into the lowlands for the worst of the winter. Electricity would come for an hour or two in the evening, heat was scarce, but the lighting made for some semblance of comfort. After a few days though the electricity did not come on and when I had asked when this would be happen he had been told ‘In the Spring’. No seriously, that is what I was told.
And that was that. The snow got deeper as the days passed, the air thinner, but I continued the relentless trek through the isolated valleys, the path not difficult to find for it always lay at the foot of the surrounding mountains, winding through the center of the valleys. Every day was a wonder of natural beauty, with huge snow covered landscapes at every turn, just the tops of the pine trees poking out from the evenly covered ground, illustrating clearly how deep the snow was becoming. The path became a hard trodden crust that sat on a bed of loosely packed snow, a foot placed in the wrong place would plunge the body into the surrounding mass, buried instantly to the waist and beyond, leaving you clawing to climb back out onto the relative security of the hardened trail.
One morning in particular stood out in his mind. I had passed through a small pass in the rocks, and an immense valley opened out before me. The perfect snow reached out to cover every inch of land, rising up the steep mountains on either side. Even with the increasing altitude the mountains reached impressively high up above, with seven of the worlds ten highest points the scale was always unimaginable. This valley was much wider than most, with an entire forest buried so that nothing more than a thousand mini trees stuck out of the snow that glistened in the morning sun. It shimmered like a billion tiny diamonds as the crystallised water reflected the clear sunlight.
A small avalanche began falling on the mountainside above, a thousand tons of snow falling in an instant, sending up a smoke like plume into the air. The scale of the landscape though demeaned the effect and for the traveler the danger always seemed so far away.
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