I am an amateur climber: I have trekked few trails and reached two summits only, and those climbs were parts of tour packages. Now that I could no longer afford a guided tour, I just had to try climbing all by myself.
Trekking in the high altitude of the Annapurna without a guide is crazy according to my Nepali friend who has done several treks. It could be disastrous especially that I wished to go higher than 4000 meters. The mountains are covered with snow. There might be no one else climbing. I might pass the wrong way, would accidentally slide down the cliff or grab some thorny plants that are growing everywhere.
I said, "a little bit of danger makes up a great adventure." Today I had the most memorable climb of my life, and I didn't climb all by myself.
On my way up the mountain, I met a stranger who would become my trekking guide. I didn't know if he could speak Nepali or understand Filipino, so I just talked to him in English. No pleasantries, I just told him, "I am going to the top." He did not make any sound; he appeared to just examine me for a moment, then went to lead the way.
At first, the trails up the hills were easy until we reached the base of the frozen mountain. There was really no way I could do it all alone. I did not see any trail. But my new friend was smart enough to find the path. He just sniffed the ice and knew exactly where to go.
There were times that I did not trust him. I would climb up the other way believing it to be a shortcut only to find out I could not climb any farther. He would not feel bad and leave; he would patiently wait at the spot where I made the wrong turn the same way he would wait for me when I could not catch up with his steps. And when I was too far behind he would come back then joined me while I was taking a little rest.
It amazed me so much when I was already tired and I was so stupid not to bring bottled water: I told him I need some liquid then he ran to the direction where there was a little well.
I thought this nice being was heaven sent, and I felt so unworthy having this extraordinary moment with him. I recalled my past experience with dogs then suddenly I was so heartbroken.
I despised dogs back when I was young. I really didn't like coming home at night and being growled at by these beasts. One of our neighbors had a dog and it was so annoyingly noisy. One day it got ill and made this constant sick sound that really pissed me off. The first night, I hit it with a glass bottle to make it stop squeaking. The other night when I was so disgusted I showered it with hot water. The owner found it dead in the morning.
As I was growing older I became somewhat civil with these animals, especially that I have some friends who are dog lovers. But I never learned to love one, until this morning.
There I asked, if this black dog knew that I was once very cruel to them, would he still make friends with me and help me complete a journey? Well, he would not care about the horrid past; I got that answer looking in his eyes. These animals lack that vengeful attitude. These animals can sense love and kindness in humans and they give love and show kindness in return. No doubt, dogs understand friendship, and they observe it without condition.
So sad, I had to say goodbye to him after our eight-hour trek. I had to go back to my guesthouse in Jomsom and I had no idea where he would go next. Maybe he would stay right at the foot of the mountain and wait for another stray human with whom he could have fun climbing up again.