By Sabrina Brewer

In all honesty, I’ve been dreading having to write this blog post. No matter how many adjectives I use, I won’t be able to accurately describe what we’ve seen and experienced in the past few days of trekking. Imagine turning slowly in a circle, and in every part of the 360-degree spin, staring up at blue skies and mountains in every direction. Mountains covered in light shades of purple, grey, yellow, and green. Mountains with jagged features and smooth details which make me wish I remembered more from my middle school geology class. Now imagine descending into valleys with fall-colored leaves and clear, rocky rivers. Imagine sitting atop a mountain looking down onto a monastery while watching a herd of mountain goats scurry down the side with a grace we will never be able to master. Whatever image you created in your head doesn’t capture the beauty of it all. I don’t say this to diminish your imagination or creativity, but Ladakh is a feeling that can’t be recreated. We’ve felt it all in our two weeks in Ladakh, but I’ll share some short memories from the trek that show the range of emotions.

I’ve envied Celeste’s talent of wearing the same outfit everyday without smelling bad, and Ben’s ability to make climbing up and down mountains look easy (it’s not). I’ve laughed hysterically at Max’s bizarre interpretation of a cowboy/leprechaun while dancing to Justin Bieber in a traditional Ladakhi kitchen with our incredible guides, Ishey and Dolma. I’ve questioned our sanity when Daisy and I tied ourselves together with a scarf because we thought that would make the steep incline more bearable (it didn’t). I’ve smiled at Charlie saying, “Oooo I just got the chills” every time he saw something beautiful, which was a lot. I’ve felt thankful for Paff’s generosity for letting us overtake his room for a much-needed massage party, and also confused by the trippy disco lights in there which oversaw it all. I’ve been worried when Shira disappeared one night and then relieved when we learned she’d been drawn in by Bollywood soaps next door and couldn’t tear herself away. I’ve appreciated Atticus’s encouraging words when I thought my body wouldn’t make it up the mountain. I’ve been grateful for Cari’s energy which made even the hardest uphills more enjoyable. I’ve empathized with Sea’s tears that come from having to leave such a magical place.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been in constant awe at the warmth and generosity that we’ve been shown.

Whether playing a game of cards with Ishey and Dolma or laughing at how often we were asked if we needed more blankets in the homestays, the kindness we’ve experienced is unparalleled. One of our repeated phrases of the semester is “be here now,” so while I have to keep reminding myself that I’ll be back one day in order to keep in the tears, I’m excited for Rishikesh and beyond!

Julley (Ladakhi for hello, goodbye, thank you; we use it for everything since it’s the only word we know) for now!