Ups and downs – in mountains, in life

I’ve been so high, I never wanted to come down
I’ve been so lost, I never wanted to be found

Life is, like the mountains, full of ups and downs. Perhaps we may try to fight against this natural process. However, in accepting the process exactly as it is we may pass through much more easily.

Here are some pictures from the last week or so as I rode my bike from Cusco to Ayacucho in Peru, which, given the size of these mountains (5 passes of 4,000 metres plus and approx. 12,000 metres of climbing in total), I did with relative “ease” with presence and acceptance.

However high we get we eventually must come down and the final mountain that took me 2 days to climb took less than an hour to come down from. Worth it —- undoubtedly yes…

The process not the destination


Sometimes we’re neither up nor down but a joyful little spot can still be found.

look up

When looking up it might not seem as challenging as it turns out to be…

whats ahead.jpg

At some point we might not know, or even care, what is ahead and how far we have to go but nevertheless we keep pushing on – what is up (low) or down (high) anyway?

And after a hard day at work perhaps…

battle all day.jpg

…not much can be seen at the top (the first 4,000 metre pass)…

see nothing.jpg

…or “nothing” is seen…

see it all.jpg

…despite knowing that just earlier one saw everything from just round the corner – oh how it can so quickly change.

happiest at the bottom

In fact, perhaps the happiest moment will come half way through at one of the “lowest” points.

At times there will be misery even when there are seemingly the right ingredients around you (and that is OK).


Something what seemed high may later in the day appear inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

Begin to level

Or perhaps daily “problems” are seen on a level with other surrounding “problems” (it took me two days to get to the top of the mountain from where I took this photo and I enjoyed watching the mountain opposite shrink).

camping out 4000m

The top might not always look impressive but resting there to take it in may seem important (4,000m+).

Always need a little outside help

Sometimes a little boost might help to get through it (cacao, bananas, and yes I’m probably chewing coca leaves in many of these photos).


It is perhaps only when stopping and breathing that others see the space to come and give their gifts (here I was taking shelter in a wooden shack and a woman came with gifts of cheese and choclo – like sweetcorn but much better).

Sometimes signs might be necessary as a reminder to what is important (“Happy journey”, “Papa, do not run, we will wait for you at home”).


always friends along the way

And there will nearly always needs to be some sort of party along the way…

Your whole life is changes
You go through changes in your life
One second, you got it made
Next second you’re down in the dumps
And it goes back and forth throughout your whole life
One second you got the most beautiful girl in the world
Next second you don’t even have a girlfriend no more
And it goes back and forth and back and forth, you know?
And this is life, man, it’s changes
This is what you gotta go through throughout your whole lifetime

***This post was part of a wider journey for happiness in which I cycled to Bhutan. There is more about that wider journey here.


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