The Astraka Mountain Lodge

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This morning we were awakened at 8AM by Nick’s wake up call, “Good morning monkeys!” he said as we we hiked from the Astraka Refuge back to Mikro Papigo. This morning had felt like a blur because I was still in the middle of processing where we were and how we got there. 

We began our hike up to the refuge at 5PM the day before and Ianthe’s cautionary words of how grueling yet beautiful of a hike this was going to be was the only thing circulating my mind. The first half of the hike felt familiar: all uphill, rocky terrain, blazing heat, sweaty backpack… I had flashbacks to the Vikos Gorge hike that we all endured on our first week. One of the biggest differences was that this hike was silent, so I was more aware of the pain in body, my restless panting, the burning sensations in my calves etc. Although painful at times, I had never felt more in tune and present with my body until that silent hike. I felt like I knew exactly what my body needed to recover. 

I remember my excitement whenever I saw a wooden roof structure in the distance and I’d say to myself “oh, that’s the refuge! I can see it! Just a little closer!” However they ended up being rest stops for water. I’d never felt so disappointed, however, I’d look to my right and see the beautiful path we’d walked, the greenery of the mountains in the distance and the vastness of the sky. Views like these remind me of how much greater and more powerful our surrounding nature is, and body aches and sweaty backs feel like nothing when you are given such a remarkable view. 

As we continued to truck along the path, big booms of thunder, flashes of lightening, and huge droplets of rain followed our path. The ground turned to mud and the rocks became slippery, so it felt like I was in a dream where I’d be expending so much energy to run but getting no where. I had never experienced nature in such an extreme form. It felt like I was part of a movie. As we kept walking, the structure of the refuge peaked through the white, thick fog and heard multiple voices screaming our names. They were our fellow apprentices and company members who had completed the morning hike. Hearing them was the most magical and encouraging moment. The refuge had still felt so far away, yet the voices felt so near. 

When we finally arrived at the refuge, I was overwhelmed by the amount of love, support and care the company members and apprentices provided for us. I was welcomed inside with huge hugs and towels and dry clothes, and it made this foreign place feel like home. This experience made me believe that no matter how much you struggle to get to your destination, there is always love and support waiting for you.

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