The Return to the Wild Mountains
Its been a while since I haven’t write anything on my blog. When I looked again, the last entry was when I was still in Finland, learning cross-country skiing from the Finns. Time moves fast without me realizing the speed of it. Sometimes I felt like time is moving faster exponentially as I grow older. Without realizing much, Im now no more with the Finns skiing together with them, guided by them and hoping that they can point any of my mistakes while the skis are attached to my boots. Im no more skiing in the flatland of the Arctic region in Finnish Lapland but now Im here, back in the wild mountains of Kyrgyzstan, all by my own. The challenge is big here for me in the mountains. Skiing while pulling a sledge through mountains is certainly not an easy task. Here in the wild mountains of the Tienshan in the middle of deep winter, Im not only battling the super cold weather, but also the rough mountainous terrain and the thin air of the Tienshan.
Plus this is the season where wolves become aggressive. When its cold in the mountains and the land is covered with thick snow, its hard for them to hunt for food, thus they become hungry and often come to the world of men to challenge the local people by attacking their herds. I on the other hand, trying to get into their world, into higher altitude… into the thin air… into the wild mountains… Two days before I decided to pull my sledge with my skis and snowshoes, the news reached my ears by the locals that a man was attacked by a pack of wolves in the mountains Im going. He was fighting for his life with the wolves before the locals came to his aid. He then ended up in a hospital in Bishkek for a few days. That terrible news put some weight into the fear inside my heart but my courage fought back. All these years I have trained myself not to fear any creations… but to fear only the creator of the realm of space and time… the source of the universe. I keep reminding myself, if I fear the creations, I fear at the wrong thing. The news slowed me down but didn’t stop me… I went to the mountain anyway.
Travelling on ski carrying a heavy sledge for the first time alone in the mountains was really difficult. I remember exactly what happened 4 years ago when I had no idea how to travel on a bicycle but I did it anyway from Chengdu towards Tibet. I still remember how shameful it was when I didn’t even know how to pack my bags properly on my bicycle, where all my luggage kept on falling down every 5-10 minutes on the busy street of Chengdu. Back then, I didn’t know how to attach the bags to the bicycle properly, I didn’t know how to setup my tent, I didn’t know what to do if I get lost in the mountains, I didn’t know how to use a rope and I didn’t know how to even repair a puncture! Its like a déjà vu, the same feeling happened again when the sledge was attached to my body and I couldn’t ski uphill because the gravity kept on pulling me down. I then managed to move slowly when I switched to the snowshoes. I could only move smoothly when the surface is flat. When its uphill, I had to switch to my snowshoes, when its really steep uphill, I switched to my crampon, ice axe and rope. When its downhill, I fall down. I fell so many times, in any possible ways until I become so used of falling down. Sometimes I took my time getting up since it was really difficult with the skis attached to my boots on thick snow. “The first day is always the hardest. After some 2000 falls, I will become a badass skier” I told myself, trying to keep myself calm.
And I kept going no matter how hard it is, this time I don’t move as fast as I usually do on my bicycle. On average I could only move about 15km a day pulling a sledge. My best was 34km on an easy day downhill. Since I’ve been traveling the world on my bicycle for the past 4 years, not any single day of it could match the hardship exploring the Tien Shan mountain on a ski pulling a sledge. Skiing and pulling a sledge in the mountains for 15km a day is a lot harder than cycling on a fully loaded bike for 100km a day. And I dont have years of skiing experience. I only ski for a few days in flatland in Finland. I think I made a bad decision pulling a sledge in the big mountains but its nothing new. I made bad decisions all the time… and Im used to it. I woke up in the morning, had my breakfast while watching the sun rises, pack my stuffs, move slowly on my skis and snowshoes, pitch my tent again before the sun touches the horizon, eat dinner and sleep under the stars and repeat the cycle the next day. It was a routine life, doing the same thing except 2 things where… I get to see new beautiful view everyday and I become a better adventure skier day by day.
No matter what I use to travel the world, let it be on a bicycle or on a ski, the feeling is the same. Those are just tools to travel… nothing more. Im not a cyclist or a skier, but a student of this temporary life, to keep learning by life experience and to keep learning by facing problems everyday and try to solve them. Living the nomadic life, homeless, the goal is to gain experience on the road. The road provides me different lessons each day. Lessons that I hope can change myself into a better man everyday… so that Im a better man today compared to yesterday and hoping that tomorrow I will become even a better person… hoping that today I will feel ashamed of what I said or done yesterday, so that I can be more careful and improve on things that I say or my actions each day… hoping that I can learn to be patience and calm while keep switching between my skis and my snowshoes in harsh condition… hoping that I can learn not to be selfish by realizing that all the things that I possess is not really owned by me, but rather are being borrowed to me temporarily in this world… the world of space and time…