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brad’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 26 Jul 2007

Location: Rush Phari, Pakistan

MapInexperienced at glacier crossing we're hesitant to tackle the next hike without a guide. The longest piece of rope in my kit is a shoelace, so we enlist the services of a local to avoid the possibility of disappearing into a crevice. It can be an awkward, tiresome task trekking with a stranger, one from another culture with broken English, different diet and camp routine so we negotiate a deal ensuring he is totally self sufficient and need only show us the path.
The first day is relatively easy, descending from Hoper village we cross Hoper glacier, a scramble of unstable rock and dirty ice. From the glaciers other side we make a steady ascent up the ablation valley arriving mid afternoon at Bericho Kor, our campsite for tonight. Along the trail we met a Hoper Villager collecting firewood, a scarce commodity in Pakistan hence his full day return trek for one load of wood. While taking a rest the man sat with us and by means of hand signs hinted he needs painkillers for a sore back. I handed over some Ibuprofen which he slipped in his back pocket, then bided us farewell. I made a mental note that pharmaceuticals are probably rarer than firewood in the Paki mountains and trekkers first aid kits a goldmine. With camp set we boil water for tea, I offer Hamid (the guide) a cup warning him there's no sugar. Dashing to his tent he returns with a supermarket bag. "f--k me Hamid" I say, "That's a 1kg bag of sugar you're carrying. It weighs more than my tent". A lecture on diabetes and/or priorities in supplies would only fall on deaf ears. However I will be impressed if he can consume the entire bag during our 5 day journey, that's nearly one cup of sugar per day.
Sitting silently I sip my cup of tea, reflecting on the day and scribbling notes in a pad. Trekking is the perfect opportunity to bring things back to centre. Without distractions the tap of superfluous thoughts can run freely until the supply is dry, at which point there remains clarity and comes awareness, and gratitude. For this reason I carry no book or music and with reluctance a notepad and pen. Presently there's no sign of depletion, the past regularly surfaces and high school seems to be the theme of the day. Damn high school. Pete sits by his tent immersed in the escapism of The Grish. I wonder, is he already fully present to afford such luxury? Or is this avoidance of what bubbles to the surface from an undistracted mind? Perhaps I think too much, he simply enjoys reading such is Pete, uncomplicated. Hamid's passed out in his tent, emerging only to cook dinner then disappearing again until morning. He seeks not peace, nor escapist literature, by the look on his face only to be free of this tiresome guiding chore. Perhaps it's the sugar comedown.
Pete and I climb up the glacial moraine that separates our camp from the mammoth dragon of ice. We watch as the earth rotates and the sun disappears from view behind distant peaks - moments of changing light are stilled with a camera.