Posted by Ed 18 mths ago
Exposing the cracks within ourselves
‘Be brave,’ I whisper to myself, adjusting the beam of my head torch to its brightest setting, and folding my trekking poles away. A sliver-thin moon has risen in the sky. Around me, the cloak of darkness feels imposing.
My small torch can only show a few metres ahead, but it looks like I’ll be scrambling down a steep, bouldered descent for some time. No logical route presents itself in the darkness, and I’m wasting time making decisions: should I jump there, or does the scree over there seem stable? It doesn’t matter – just keep moving.

A large blister on the bottom of my left foot makes my movements timid and awkward, but I can’t stop and address that now – darkness has come upon me, and this is the worst possible place. I need to get down off this mountain and find a suitable place to camp, ideally one with a water source, as I haven’t had a refill in many hours and have completed just over a marathon for the third day in a row. Thirst rakes at my throat. I need to take better care of myself. I know this. And yet, here I am.

‘Shut up and keep moving,’ I snap to nobody but my own inner dialogue. The more time I spend dithering about which way to go, and reflecting on the ‘failures’ of my day that have left me summiting one of the tallest peaks in Transylvania at sunset, the longer it will take me to get anywhere. Wind rips across the ridge, reminding me to get lower, soon, before I freeze in the night.

The slope is endless. Scattered boulders flash past in the beam of my lamp. It’s awkward terrain, and the technical scrambling takes far longer than I expect. Occasionally, I allow myself a little break to admire the night sky: stars have come out to join the sliver of the moon, and it’s a bewitching display even though I only have moments to enjoy it now. The Transylvanian Alps stretch out on all sides, giants in the night. Soon the ridge tapers to a knife edge and black abyss falls away to either side. Focus. Be brave. And keep moving, I remind myself again and again. I don’t need to think about anything else right now aside from where my hands and feet are going.

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