The Restorative Effects of Mountain Roads on Mood and Health

The road to Darjeeling is fucking stunning. The days of travel leading up to it (if fading in and out of consciousness during a raging fever can be consider ‘travel’) had been marked largely by worry and depression but, as we rounded a turn to catch our first glimpse of green on the twisting road to the former British hill station, my joy came right back to me. I was delighted to find that it hadn’t gone too far.

I wish I’d some pictures of the sharp switchback roads leading to Darjeeling but stopping in the middle of them is probably frowned upon by the traffic coming up behind you.

My spirits continued to rise as we did. As we cleared the first town at the mountain’s base mist rolled up through the long trunks of the shadowed forest below to crawl lazily across the road before us, shining silver in the afternoon sun. Its rays broke through the canopy above in slivers that created for us the illusion we were riding through thin walls of light. The roads began to twist and turn and rise at alarmingly sharp angles and steep degrees but I don’t remember feeling afraid or nervous. . .just highly, unwaveringly focused as I struggled to negotiate the 350 lb bike, intent on not stalling out in the middle of one of the hairpin switchbacks, relieved to no longer be in a hospital or hotel bed with sickness wrapped around me like a thick, clammy blanket. Continue reading

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