“For many years, I have been moved by the blue at the far edge of what can be seen, that color of horizons, of remote mountain ranges, of anything far away. The color of that distance is the color of an emotion, the color of solitude and of desire, the color of there seen from here, the color of where you are not. And the color of where you can never go. For the blue is not in the place those miles away at the horizon, but in the atmospheric distance between you and the mountains.”
Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost
As far as I can remember I have been longing to touch the line of the distant mountain range and stand on the boundary between the Earth and the sky, to see over, but I never had the courage, or time, or means to get there. There was always something more urgent to do, do the cleaning, or visit relatives. Or I just didn’t feel like getting up early on a Sunday morning. In the past couple of years, I would crave over weekend photos of hiking groups on Mondays and lament on my weekends spent indoors. And then, a year ago, I finally composed my wits, woke up one Sunday morning and set on a new adventure. It was just a beginning.
With every new weekend and every new mountain, I changed. My perspective changed. I realized I can be a person who is completely different, even opposite to what I am in business and everyday life. Me, an authority-defying, always questioning and examining work and other people, became a blindly devoted follower, never asking where are we going and why we are going there, never getting into wishing to understand people around me. I started watching myself over from bird perspective like I am somebody else, refusing to lead. My no-give-up approach to life gained new depth (or height). My passion for adventure woke up a child in me.
In a year since, I have climbed many mountains, some very demanding and hard, not just physically, but also psychologically. The harder the climb, the better I felt. A few mountains were dangerous more than I wish to admit.
Are you OK in your head?
“Are you OK in your head?” asked me the guide before we went to Maja Jezercë, the highest peak in the entire Dinaric Alps, standing at 2694 m (8839 ft) above sea level. That question was a joke and it should have been a warning. I didn’t know. That question is a mother of all questions when you go on a challenging quest. In my blind guide-following, I went, on 8. April to climb the snow-covered rough rock which is described among Montenegro mountaineers as one of the toughest. Only after 18 hours of non-stop walking and climbing, I asked about what have we done while taking off my wet shoes and scratching my sun-burnt eyes. We didn’t stop for 18 hours because it was too cold to pause.
I remember noticing a person far in the distance, climbing what looked like a 75-degree slope and saying: “Look! A man?! What is he doing up there?”. “That’s where we are going” was the answer. On that day I learned to use ice-axe and crampons (metal spikes bounded on shoes), swore more than any other day in my life because I hated that every step was a knee-deep-dive into wet snow, tested my resilience and stubbornness, and conquered myself. The difference in altitude that we climbed was 1700 m. We walked 25,6 km. But I yelled that I am ok when I was tumbling down the hill, and when I was shaking uncontrollably while hiding behind the windswept boulder, and when I didn’t want to give up, even though every bone and every cell in me was screaming for help. I was OK in my head after all. Because that’s where a challenge shapes you and that’s when you discover if you are OK in your head. In the moments when you just can’t give up.
And then I went to look over some other mountain peaks: both Montenegrin highest peaks Bobotov kuk, 2523 m (8278 ft), and Zla Kolata, 2534 metres (8314 ft)), Gran Paradiso (the seventh-highest Alps mountain of Italy, 4061 m (13324 ft)) and a couple of technically demanding and adrenalin filled rock-spikes like Očnjak, 2185 m (7168 ft) and Ljevorečki kom, 2469 m (8100 ft).
All mountaineers ask themselves “WHY”
I tried to explain to myself where this mountain-addiction came from, why do I need such an extreme hobby, and how did a leap of faith happen to me, a control-freak. And it is not just that I am an adventurous spirit which stayed dormant for the previous 25 years. I want to get more from life. I started since to write a blog (this blog), learn Dutch language again, and I started to learn photography. And when you want more from life you have to work on it.
I am writing this as it would be nice if you would finally stop asking me about the mountains and my weekend endeavors, and stop longing for nature while watching photos of you not being there. Stop being hesitant to attempt. Just go with me. Work on getting the most of your life.
This blog started, after all with an idea of connecting the world of those who go on hiking, and those who wish to go.
After all, in searching for the answer to my WHY, I found a new genre of books, new favorite authors and a new approach to life.
My point is that you do not need me or anyone else around to bring this new kind of light in your life. It is simply waiting out there for you to grasp it, and all you have to do is reach for it. The only person you are fighting is yourself and your stubbornness to engage in new circumstances.
― Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild
photo credit: Danilo Ivanovic of PSK Montenegro Guide
Natasa is an avid hiker, but still discovering herself and the world of hiking. This blog is a place where she shares her thoughts of the mountains.
An economist by education, Natasa is the chief marketing officer of Domain.ME, the international tech company that operates the internet domain “.ME.” She’s spent her entire career at the intersection of airline, banking, social media, leadership and technology, and is constantly trying to figure out the secret to being in three different places at the same time.