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High in the Himalayas: How I Learned About Cannabis for Mental Endurance

High in the Himalayas: How I Learned About Cannabis for Mental Endurance

A trek in the Himalayas is a must for any outdoor explorer worth their salt. It truly is a feast for the eyes and most certainly the soul and in 2014, on a trip to Nepal, I got to experience the early morning sun illuminate, inch by inch, the highest mountain range in the world. As if the landscape wasn’t wondrous enough, I would later realise, that cannabis had profoundly enhanced this whole experience.  

In my early 20’s, I had mostly encountered cannabis in social settings – reflecting the mainstream stereotype of how cannabis is consumed – you know the one, comfy couch, a bag of doritos and a playstation.

“Little did I know that this perchance hike in the Himalayas would lead me to discover and adopt the principle of combining cannabis and rigorous physical activity.”

It wasn’t until 2014, while on the base camp trek in the Himalayas that I crossed paths with what I now know to be charas – a similar product to what we know here in the west as hash. Little did I know at the time that this would alter the way I use cannabis forever.

My girlfriend, now wife, and I had spent a year backpacking abroad, and with no prior hiking experience, we decided there was no time like the present, and made the arrangements to trek up to the Annapurna Base Camp – home of the 10th largest peak in the world.

 

Himalayan mountain range, Western Nepal. Photo By Tiyana Matliovski

We picked up two other travellers along the way, and set off in a small group of four from a town just outside of Pokhara, in Western Nepal. In hindsight we truly underestimated the feat, climbing relentlessly for 4 days along an unpaved path that wound its way through the mountains all the way up to the base camp.

If you’re familiar with Nepal, you might know that cannabis grows wildly all throughout the hilly country. In fact it’s not uncommon to happen upon wild cannabis plants on the less travelled routes.

Himalayan charas is made by rubbing the resin of live cannabis sativa plants, unlike hash which uses resin of harvested and dried plants. The locals rub the plant with their bare hands for hours until they produce a sticky brown coloured ball that can range in size. To ensure the purity of the end product no other elements are added, making it a very pure form of concentrated cannabis. As this is one of the main streams of income for the mountain people, charas is available in abundance and can be obtained with relative ease – and it just so happened that one of our party had a knuckle sized ball in his pack.

“I’d often question whether I had it in me to walk another 3-4 hours at a steady incline… Cannabis aided me in cultivating the mindset to march on.”

The entire route of nearly 110 kilometres was only accessible by foot. Every 15 km or so, there were villages with tea houses that offered accommodation and food. The first day was undeniably challenging, but it wasn’t until day two, which involved climbing an inordinate amount of stairs – somewhere between 9,000 and 11,000 steps – that I realised how ill-prepared we were in our quest to reach base camp. There was a constant battle with fatigue being waged in my head, the urge to stop heightening each time we arrived at the next hilltop village. The tea houses in these remote villages were our only source of food – a simple lunch, comprising of boiled eggs, dal bhat and of course masala chai. Upon leaving these villages, i’d often question whether I had it in me to walk another 3-4 hours at a steady incline. I can say, without a doubt, that cannabis was an able comrade in keeping me motivated and it aided me in cultivating the mindset to march on.

The high of the Charas was not overbearing yet it was ever-present, as if it were a reminder of the goal I had set out to achieve. The euphoria of the high energized me, the heady feeling helped me connect with the world around me, and as it’s now more widely accepted, it helped relieve the soreness and the pain of popping blisters, tight hamstrings and tense shoulders from 6-8 hours of walking each day.

 

Surjeet Shetty resting on route to Anapurna Base Camp. Photo By Tiyana Matliovski

By the fourth day we had reached our final destination – the Anapurna Base Camp, which sat at a peak altitude of 4030 metres above sea level – the average height at which a skydiver jumps out of the plane. I felt as if I was on top of the world.

Little did I know at the time, that this perchance hike in the Himalayas would lead me to discover and adopt the principle of combining cannabis and rigorous physical activity.

These days I ritualistically combine my MMA training and cannabis. I put my body through strenuous physical activity and follow it diligently with a recovery session aided by cannabis. By combining the two, I have seen a steady, yet considerable, growth in my physical strength and my mental aptitude.

To much of the world, cannabis is still considered a drug, but to me it’s a plant of great value that has been denied its true status as a medicine, a supplement and most importantly as a natural resource, which has the ability to promote my health and wellbeing.

Disclosure: The information shared in this post is a personal experience and not to be considered medical or legal advice. Please consult with a health practitioner and seek legal counsel on the cannabis laws in your area.
Surjeet

Surjeet

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