A Long Way To Go

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“PAULINA... get up! We have to leave soon!!”

Growled my roommate, Amit.

“I will, I just don't feel like it. I bet it's SO cold outside, ”

 

I yawned. Of course, unfortunately I was right. It was indeed another very cold, yet sunny morning in Altai. It was freezing due to the place where we were camping at—the Southern Siberia, surrounded by hundreds of lakes and mountains. Every year, our school plans trips for different grades as a way to get to know everyone better; to explore all diverse places in the world and just in general to have a great start to the upcoming scholar year. This year we were going on the trip that was, as said by many, the most unforgettable trip throughout all the years in school. At the moment I couldn't agree more. It was, by all means, one of the most interactive and exciting, as our school likes to call them, discovery weeks I have been on so far. The Altai experience itself was formed not only from the big discoveries or activities, it was memorable from the little things that made it exceptional. The people who you choose to spend your time with were playing a part, which was as big as the activities. Friends were like a little additional dessert throughout the whole week; the activities and the whole trip was on the menu, friends were a sweet treat, just like a cherry-on-top.

 

The day that thrilled me the most was one of the lucky days that we got throughout the week in Altai. Friday, the last day before we had to go back to Moscow, leaving all the fun that we had, in just 5 days, behind. I only ever love two things on trips - friends... and advantageous activities. My sharp acumen towards this trip was hopefully going to be concluded with a satisfying thought. The starting point to the hiking trip, looked, in my opinion, at the beginning,  like an amusing beneficial expedition. I was glad to conclude the whole week with a lovely sight of the lakes and mountains from high up. The view— the rocks, trees, rivers , gave you a certain good feeling about yourself. This feeling, hard to describe, but so wonderful to experience. It makes you want to burst out with a smile, thinking about how glad you really are that you came all the way here, that all of this is really... worth it! The intense smell of horses and cows instantly filled my nose. The pebbles that looked like petite furballs quickly snatched onto my clothing. As annoying as they were, I tried not focusing on that, instead, I looked to my sides to make sure I was on the right track. Glancing forwards towards what was waiting for me drew back my attention, the sight was amazingly breathtaking. Dark green bushy spirals, the rough-looking rocks formed on the grey, bulky mountains. Glancing back at my feet, moving from one side to the other, unsure if it was the right time, I decided to begin the trip up.

The start of something is usually the hardest part, no matter what it is, it is the struggle that dissolves afterward. I helplessly searched for all of the courage that was left behind somewhere in the little dark corners and huddled to the next place where I could set my massive backpack along with my heavy body. Looking at what was left for me to tackle was a totally divergent scenery; it began with a tranquil pleasant trail which led you to thinking that was how it was going to be the whole way up. Alas the way to reach the top was a steep, rugged path covered with rocks, plants, and small brown tree cones. My eyes, jumping from one object to another, trying to calculate the time it will take for the object to break, hands not successfully following my mind, gripping to whatever was beside me, holding onto one branch that might as well be the tiniest and weakest. Looking down was the surreal part. It wasn't the part that got me contemplating my choices, or frightened, it was the one which made me want to go further — to discover how it looked like from a higher perspective, the crystal turquoise stream flowing through the woods far below us. Miniature rocks rippled from under me, as I tried  to keep my balance as if walking on a fast stream of water. Absconding all of my thoughts that were no longer important, I centered all of my attention onto my very slow and careful steps. My lungs inhaling the fresh smell of old chocolate brown barch, the golden sparks of rosin, and the funny-looking pine cones. My face being swept by the morning sunshine beaming through the milky angelic fog as if entering a mystical magical story-book. Every 10 minutes, the person besides me would ask bitterly

“Are we there yet?”

The obvious answer to the questioning was hollered from behind us by the teachers

“Very close, very close”.

Although all of us knew, and didn't want to adapt to the fact that we were possibly never going to make it to the top, the teachers never stopped being encouraging and positive. All of my thoughts about where to put my next step, in such a way that it could be just what my life depends on, I reassured myself by whispering under my breath

“Just one more careful step, you got it”.

Being the procrastinating person that I am, of course, I commence wondering about the most absurd and random things, that come flying into my mind. At the time the thin branch that I was holding...instantaneously breaks into half with a crunchy sound, my thoughts slipped through my head as smoothly as one is able to slip into bed after.


Suddenly, as if on thin ice, moving my hands from my backpack, thinking fast, I felt my feet find the perfect spot to stop my body from hitting the hard stones below me. My hands gripping onto the rocks from under me, suddenly effortlessly trying to push back my body, trying to shift to the other side in order for the balance not to be lost. Clamping my hands together I noticed the little pebbles leaving embedded marks that looked as if they were left on rocks from prehistoric times, little figurines of leaves and pebbles, colored in red from the blood rush streaming through my body right to the palms of my hands. The fresh scent of dirt was stronger now that it was on my hands and knees. I tilted my body forwards in hope of it getting back up, with the sounds of birds flying over me, I bob my head towards the top peak. My friend besides the cliff took a step towards me to help me get up, she carefully moved my body to the right of the hill just in time from preventing a tragic accident. Finally taking the best effort to move my feet in order to reassure myself from not falling, I drag myself up the last steps clumsily to the finish line. The tension in my body quickly softened just as if a thousand kg was being dropped. Glancing over my shoulder I slowly watched the rest of my group make it to the end of the corner. Awaiting was a charming  front row seat to an even more stunning landscape view from above. The milky clouds stretched encompassing the mountain peaks. An admirable smile was swept around the faces of all survivors, as if someone touched a coordinately placed row of dominos. The malaise feeling was quickly dissolved by the award that was finally achieved. Nowhere else would you  get first class seats to such a beautiful view… except from the top of Altai! The rushing feeling was prickling up inside me, how confident and proud I was for not giving up and rewarding myself with an indescribable view.






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