BY VICTORIA SILK
I was 16 years old in January 1989, and that was when my dreaming of Nepal began. My older brother, at the conclusion of his gap year, took a long planned trip to India and Nepal with his future wife. It wasn’t India that captured my imagination, despite the postcards from Varanasi and Kashmir; it was Kathmandu and Nepal. Why? I don’t really know why, it was almost a calling. It was his descriptions in tiny writing on beautiful postcards; presents of handmade writing paper and a bangle inscribed with Nepali script that I then wore for many years.
Four years and a degree later, my best mate and I planned a graduation trip to Nepal – the Annapurna circuit was in our sights. For whatever, and many reasons, I pulled out at the last minute. In my heart I knew it wasn’t the right time for me to take this journey. At the very least, I did not feel prepared mentally or physically. Fi went and returned with scary stories of being alone on a mountain with altitude sickness. She bought me a beautiful yak hair blanket that I cherished and finally found a proper use for when my first baby was born 16 years later. A blanket she is now inseparable from.
The birth of that baby came at a time when all babies seem to come – when many plans for exotic travel and adventures are in place! I was a relatively new coach with Wild Women On Top and was to accompany Di and 16 fantastic, fit and focused women to Nepal and Tibet. This was more than I could ever have expected when I embarked on my career with WWOT. I just wanted to train women to do the things that are life-enhancing and joyous – the things that I love to do – walk, climb and embrace the outdoors with mind, body and heart. But now to be sent to Nepal AND Tibet….
“You’ll only be 5 months pregnant, Vic.You’ll be right, surely”, I can remember one of the girls, Val, saying to me. Don’t you love the faith women put in women! I did, but I knew I wasn’t going. Nepal was going to wait again.
In hospital for 7 days before the birth, Di sent me the raw footage taken on that trip. As I waited for this baby to arrive, I sat with computer in lap, piecing together the story of Wild Women On Top’s 2010 adventure in Tibet and Nepal. The haunting highlands of Tibet and the girls' movements through this breathtaking landscape, the sounds of their laughter and singing at their gourmet dinner in Everest Base Camp. These images are etched into my being and will always be synonymous with the birth of Sophie.
Two years later, and in a moment of almost sheer desperation for my own adventure, I announced come hell or high water we were going to Nepal. Nobody argued. Nobody argued though my Mum and the wise wild women around me did suggest, and then persuaded, that I might have a semblance of a holiday if I left Sophie with her Nana. And that this was a valid thing to do! Gotta love Nanas!
So I’ve just returned from a fortnight in Nepal. To say it was everything and more than I ever imagined doesn’t come close - I haven’t processed the length and breadth of that yet and maybe that’s another story. This story is about coming full circle. About right times, wrong times, preparation, faith and dreams realised. And maybe about listening to the wisdom of the women around you!
Vic Silk, Wild Women On Top Coach