Day 12, high camp, 4800 meters. The morning sun greeted us as we prepared to trek the 600 meter ascent of Thorong La Pass. The air was clear and crisp, exposing for miles the delicate beauty of the mountain range. I made my way toward the edge to look over the path that led me to this point. I stood there in pure silence, my footing sound on the ancient rock below. I was surrounded by them: towering giants, manifestations of strength and beauty. The horizon was at eye level, making it seem that I existed half above and half below, as if I were emerging with the mountains through the atmosphere, piercing the veil and now looking inward on all. The silent sleeping beauties buzzed to me with their white hair gleaming in the sunlight. Below me lay the small block outlines of a town, as if they were crumbs left over on the kitchen counter, soon to be surveyed and displaced by a small army of ants. I stood there on the edge of it all, like a bird perched on a gargoyle; the empty chasm before me murmured with a haunting nothingness. I let out a deep exhalation and dropped a feather into the void. I watched it swim, slowly, majestically, held by those towering giants and that empty chasm, held between time and space, held between this world and the next. I watched it fade into the nothingness, as though it slipped through a slit in the fabric - I wondered if it were gone - but I heard it twirling, twined with the murmur. I inhaled, and like the feather, began my journey.