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What happened when we reached Annapurna Base Camp!

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Before the trek, I knew it did not matter whether I reached each campsite 1st or last,the first 5 days of the trek. But what I had decided was that on day 6, the day we were to reach Annapurna Base Camp, I’d be the first to reach.
On that day, for some reason I had no such feelings. The route from Deurali was beautiful, and I was marvelling at the river, & the landscape. For 5 days, Pinku had been at the back of the group and this day, I wanted this close friend of mine who had done some 8-9 trips with me since the 1st pandemic ended, to do this journey with me. Shrimayi, super fit as always, was right next to me. We walked slowly, singing, taking videos & photos.
3.5 hours later, we approached the board. As I walked to it, I could see some people of our group around it,& raised my arm, flexed my bicep as if to say “Yeahhh we all did it!” They were clapping for anyone who reached, congratulating them for making it to the place we had been thinking of for months. As I sank to my knees in front of the board, a lot of pent up emotions about the recent past surfaced. As I collected myself and hugged each person, a strange energy had captured everyone. Every single person was becoming emotional, tearing up, Till this moment, we had all been working towards reaching a target, and when we did reach it, all the emotion, all the baggage, was coming out.
Maybe for some, it was the sheer feeling of achievement, for some it was the realisation that they could do anything if they put their mind, body and soul to it, for some it was just letting go of sorrows and finally getting closure. One of the girls who came in the end, sank to her knees, and sobbed inconsolably. As I went to hold her, I could feel the reassuring hand of Ram (our guide) patting our backs.
From the mist, the world’s tenth highest mountain looked upon us, as it had looked at countless travellers all these years. Maybe we didn’t know why we were crying, but the mountains knew.
Somewhere we  all said a silent personal prayer, and then it was time to group together and take a photograph at a place we shall never forget.
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Neeraj Narayanan

Neeraj Narayanan, a.k.a Captain Nero, is the founder of OHOT. In the summer of 2013, he quit his corporate job and went backpacking around the world. In a year full of (mis)adventures, he ended up being chased by a bear in a Croatian forest, being held at gunpoint by a mafia gang lord in Turkey, running with the bulls in Spain, and dancing in the clubs of Spain and Italy. A year later, he started leading group trips for people.

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