Mountain rescue beauty

[previously unpublished]
Written December 2016

Amritham Madhuram.
Amrithapureshwari, akhilanmadhuram.

We reach the height of the world. The view is extraordinary – everything suddenly completely opens up, the world becomes complete. The sun does superb displays upon it’s disappearance.

Venus shines so incredibly, just West of a mountain peak we’ve just come a little down from.

The world is gentle up here. The wind is still. There is only us here. There’s noone and nothing else here. On top of the world.

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The ridge gets narrower and narrower. There are slopes down either side, which get steeper and steeper. I’m concerned about Shakti, who’d showed signs of her hips seizing up earlier in the walk, and I theorise that it’s only because she’s always moving that they seized up properly. She’s obviously unsure about the route, and proceeds very cautiously. I walk on the slope down the side – a little precarious, but I’m aware of Shakti’s nerves and am ready to catch her if she slips. I take a few steps further along as the path gets more awkward, waiting for Shakti’s next moves. Shakti turns around, and darts back the way we’ve come, and descends down the slope on the other side of the ridge, walking fast. I call her, but she’s determined to find an alternative path.

Before I start going after her, I hear a shrill scream. I rush – time suddenly becomes very short. A matter of seconds late could be the end of her life. I get to her, relieved, but completely without idea of what to do. I position myself underneath her, where the slope becomes almost sheer. I have just enough footing and have grip to stay there a while, but my gloves are so thin and my hands start hurting a fair bit.

Shakti looks at me, trying to tell me how frightened she is, she made a mistake and really doesn’t know what to do now. I tell her it’s okay. I will put my life before hers, in whatever way that means. I’m young with a fit body that can recover well from damage – she maybe wouldn’t recover now from any breakages. I’m blessed with this functional body, and it’s really quite an honour to use it in saving a life, no matter what it means for my body. On a deeper sense, that is completely what this life has been about, at least for the last few years. There’s been no greater purpose than the purpose of saving lives, in whatever way. I commit myself fully to saving Shakti’s life.

Swami B calls out asking me what’s going on. I tell him the tricky predicament. He asks me to try getting Shakti up. I try, and strain a lot just to move myself without slipping, but realise it’s impossible to do it safely with my lack of equipment.

All the time, there’s a deep concentration of energy in prayer to Lord Shiva.

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Swami B comes down towards us, very reluctantly because it’s so dangerous. I get given a miraculous brainwave to tie my scarf around Shakti’s collar as a lead, and I chuck it to Swami. He’s able to stay a bit higher up where it’s not so steep, so is able to pull Shakti up very successfully.
My attempts to get myself up are futile to begin with – my limited footing became no footing at all, but I find a bit of slate to pull myself up from, and I get to the ridge again.

We keep Shakti on the lead, and I move backwards on my hands and knees pulling Shakti towards me and Swami Narayana pushes from behind. The moon is extremely full, yellow, and has only just risen.
We get to the trickiest bit, and Shakti’s collar slides off her head. I scream assertively, and grab her quickly, and put the collar back on, and take it much more slowly.

Descending, we have to slide down a few parts because it’s too steep to walk. The first slope I hold Shakti on my lap and she gives me complete trust on what’s happening. The next one’s, we get her to slide down alongside us.

Swami Narayana is silent for most of the descent, then opens up that I saved Shakti’s life, and he owes me for the rest of his life. I tell him anyone would have done the same, I just happened to be the one needing to immediately respond.

We drive back to Wales a week or so later. For most of the journey, Shakti needs to cuddle my arm in order to lie down and sleep in the car. Without my arm, she’s restless and won’t settle.

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