Mountains

On isolation in mountains…

Isolation in mountains, unlike those of confined spaces that breeds restlessness, is steeped in contentment… romanticized for centuries as an exploration of the self as much as of terra firma, it is in part a childhood instinct to derive pleasure from aimless wanders, and in part a side effect of the overbearing nature of connectedness catalyzed by the cyberspace…

Feeling of isolation in mountains, Kalihani Pass, Himachal Pradesh, India

For almost everyone, brief sojourns in the mountains are an exercise in the contemplative nature of isolation, an expanse that seems infinite but is still within one’s grasp if one commits wholly to the trail, and in return get metaphors on life and death, the length of existence and its breadth, crests and troughs, joy and sorrow, elegies on the past and melodies for tomorrow…

Feeling of isolation in mountains, Raktisar, Great Himalayan National Park, Himachal Pradesh, India

Such isolation seems rather frivolous and self-indulgent in a way, the pomp of suffering and redemption in Vibram and Gore-tex, songs of explorations composed on a train of mules, the unwavering tenets of alpinism too onerous to be complied with… seems more like a brief kinship in the face of the elements than isolation to be fair…

Feeling of isolation in mountains, Dhauladhar ranges, Himachal Pradesh, India

But then ‘tis a tightrope, this isolation, like a narrow ridge with steep drops on both sides… at one end is solitude … a sense of calm earned by putting miles of rugged terrain twixt oneself and civilization… doses of solace in myriad flavours, contrasts of green and white, sonority of water and wind, indispensability of fire… an all-inclusive escapade from the (urban) mire…

Feeling of isolation in mountains, Jiva Nal valley, Great Himalayan National Park, Himachal Pradesh, India

At the other end, though, is loneliness, the kind that tries to wring out life rather than rejuvenating it, near death experiences that leave one stymied, for contrary to popular perception, those that come out of them are still not able to place a finger upon how it changed them, and to settle the matter are bound to go through them again and again… massifs haunt dreams, maps mask reality… an obsession maybe, but part of it remains involuntary, for the compulsion is now braided into the sub-conscience, a malaise making one incorrigible…

Feeling of isolation in mountains, Kashmir, India

‘Tis is a grey area, where solitude turns into loneliness, the dreariness of the landscape might be a factor, or a nagging physical discomfort that, coincidentally, makes a mountain out of a molehill…  the exploration of mountains is transitioning from meanders to athletic quests, and with that solitude has left the echelons of the highest and the remotest – although loneliness may persist there awhile – seeking recluse in the lesser known quarters, nooks in maps still ignored…

Feeling of isolation in mountains, Kashmir, India

Yet there is immense value in becoming a speck in the landscape, to a point where once is indiscernible from the rock and ice… loneliness compels sailors to anthropomorphize, ascribing human tendencies to the inanimate… solitude on the other hand makes one muse on the benefits of becoming inanimate…

Dhauladhar ranges, Himachal Pradesh, India

For the isolation of the mountain is a sanctuary one seeks, like a vaccine the elements in small doses make one immune to the decadence of life otherwise… one tides over one’s frailties inspired by the landscape, yet questions one’s resolve looking over the daunting task that makes up that vista… isolation in itself is quite neutral, its humility or wrath derives from the motivation of the wayfarer…

Greater Himalayan ranges, Uttarakhand, India

Musings on mountains, treks in Western Himalaya

Author: Parth Joshi

Allured by the outdoors, the author is made up in parts of that quintessential lost soul wreathing under the pangs of biophilia in a desk job, a wannabe elegist mostly ending up in dungeons of poetasters and an optimist waiting for the senility of the modern world to fade away while sampling shoots and leaves. In saner times, he has a keen interest in areas pertaining to tourism, history, agriculture and climate change, especially with respect to historical interpretations, emerging technologies and future livelihoods. An avid trekker, runner, cyclist, birder and photographer, he is more often than not found gloating over anything hinterland, on foot or over computer monitors, and fantasizing solutions that can foster inclusive growth and sustainable livelihoods for communities at the grassroots.

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