Brave Women on the Mountaintop (My response to Bill Holland's challenge)

A Writing Challenge: The Woman on the Mountaintop
A Writing Challenge: The Woman on the Mountaintop | Source
Hiking with K2 enables me to observe flora and fauna, thereby, enabling me to slowly climb up to my mountaintop.
Hiking with K2 enables me to observe flora and fauna, thereby, enabling me to slowly climb up to my mountaintop. | Source
The Leakey's Angels or the Trimates as Leakey called them. Their work is definitely my inspiration, but this hub is not about them.
The Leakey's Angels or the Trimates as Leakey called them. Their work is definitely my inspiration, but this hub is not about them. | Source

K2, my great white dog, and I had been hiking for 3 hours without taking a break. It was a normal day long hiking adventure that started with my wife driving us both to the starting point early in the morning and would have ended just after the dusk at the finishing point where my wife would pick me up. However, this one had turned out to be different as I had underestimated the difficulty of the terrain.

I finally decided to take a respite and have a light snack and tea. K2 gulped his within a minute and laid down with eyes looking at a distant object as if he was in trance. My mind, on the other hand, started wandering off. I started questioning why am I wasting all this time hiking and taking landscape and wildlife pictures.

As I started thinking about it, I realized that it was not a recent phenomena. The seeds were sown in the late 70s and the sapling nurtured by several people who I heard and read about all those years up to now. Many of them were women, who had climbed to the mountaintop. Most notable among them were the Leakey's Angels, namely late Diane Fossey, Dr. Jane Goodall, and Birute Galdikas, noted for their work on Gorillas, Chimpanzees, and Orangutans, respectively. However, some of them are not as well known as those three.

Here are three brave women who climbed their own mountaintop and, in doing so, either helped me in defining my vision or helped made my vision clearer.

Robyn with her camels over 40 years ago.
Robyn with her camels over 40 years ago. | Source

Robyn Davidson reached the lateral mountaintop

In 1977, Robyn Davidson, then 27 years old, trekked across 1,700 Miles of Australian desert and she did it with four camels, a loyal dog, and her self-doubt and introspection.

Robyn grew up in Adelaide, a city in Southern Australia, but she traveled to the Central Australian town of Alice Springs, arriving with just $6 in her pocket and a desire to learn about camels. She worked in a bar and started training under an Afghan camel owner, performing menial jobs and learning all she could. It took two years, but finally she was ready to pursue her dream.

Mia Wasikowska starred as Robyn Davidson in The Weinstein Company's Tracks (2013)
Mia Wasikowska starred as Robyn Davidson in The Weinstein Company's Tracks (2013) | Source

She was not able to accumulate the funds needed for the adventure and so she applied for and received a grant from National Geographic. But the magazine appointed a photographer to meet with her off and on cover her journey.

On her way, she encountered Aboriginal people, who were under terrible persecution of the settlers. She stood by their rights and wrote about their plight. Through her journey, people learned about the Outback and about the Aboriginal people and their terrible conditions for the first time. Therefore, her personal journey turned out to be much more than what she had originally thought.

A girl growing up with all the privileges made it to the mountaintop, despite all the challenges, because she persevered and followed her heart.

It was the main article in the 1978 issue of National Geographic.
It was the main article in the 1978 issue of National Geographic. | Source

Her book, 'Tracks', subtitled, 'A Woman's Solo Trek Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback,' first published in May 1995, is now considered a classic with a motion picture that came out in 2013. By the way, I read her account much before it was published in book form, through the courtesy of a long article in National Geographic sometimes in the early 1980s, for improving my English for going to the USA for studies.

Upon reading that article, I was left with the thought that if she could do this, I could too. For a long time I planned for hiking through the northern mountains of Pakistan taking my dogs and a few yaks along. My present hobby of hiking with my dog has its roots in reading about Robyn's adventure over 40 years ago.

Cat Urbigkit with two livestock guardian animals, and a sheep.
Cat Urbigkit with two livestock guardian animals, and a sheep. | Source
Source

Cat Urbigkit herds her way to a mountaintop

Cat Urbigkit left city life when she was in high school to live the rest of her life with her then boy friend, who soon became her husband. At present, she lives with him and their son in western Wyoming and keeps sheep for a living.

Cat is an award winning writer and photographer and has written a book 'Shepherds of the Coyote Rocks', subtitled 'Public Lands, private Herds and the Natural World', first published in September 2012. The book details how the author took her sheep for grazing in predators dominated ranches of western Wyoming with the help of three livestock guardian dogs, a herding dog, and two burros.

Through her book and her Facebook page, Cat brings the knowledge out from diversified subjects as they apply to shepherding in western Wyoming. She educates her followers like me on the concept of transhumance across the globe, livestock and guarding animals, and on the history, geography, economy, ecology, ethnicity and culture, flora and fauna, predators and prey relationship in the region, caring for livestock guardian dogs, and of course the relationship between humans and livestock in the region.

I like Cat Urbigkit as she reached the mountaintop by following her heart and is herding sheep with the protection of her livestock guardian dogs, a chore normally meant for men. In addition, she does lots of wildlife photography as it presents itself on the range.

Reading her book and Facebook posts, I have discovered that livestock guardian dogs can be used as a tool for wildlife conservation also. Also, her writings provided a much needed disconfirmation of a preconceived notion that all western ranchers hate predators. I have referenced her work in some of my articles as well.

Malala after intense surgery in the UK.
Malala after intense surgery in the UK. | Source
The book.
The book. | Source

Malala Yusafzai climbed a mountaintop for girl education

Malala Yousafzai was born on July 12, 1997, in Mingora, Pakistan. As a child, she became an advocate for girls' education at a time when the Taliban, a religious extremist and a terrorist organization, were wielding considerable power. This resulted in the Taliban issuing a death threat against her. On October 9, 2012, a gunman shot Malala when she was traveling home from school. She survived, and has continued to speak out on the importance of education.

She has also written an autobiography, " I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban", which was released in October 2013.

She was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2013. She was nominated again in 2014 and won, thus becoming the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and reaching the mountaintop.

Girl students in KPK province. While I attended a co-education program in the same region, my classroom might have resembled this environment.
Girl students in KPK province. While I attended a co-education program in the same region, my classroom might have resembled this environment.

I grew up in the same region, in a much more advanced and developed Nowshera district of Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa (KPK or short) province just 60 kms south of Swat district, where Malala comes from. I was able to relate to the cultural and religious nuances and many of the events described graphically in her book and to a fair degree of opposition she has met in her own country by her own people.

Although Malala's camp and the political party that rules the province come from two different schools of thought, she has been a trailblazer for the latter who bravely launched anti-polio drive in February 2014 against threats from the terrorists.
Although Malala's camp and the political party that rules the province come from two different schools of thought, she has been a trailblazer for the latter who bravely launched anti-polio drive in February 2014 against threats from the terrorists.

I consider Malala a role model for young people from developing countries like Pakistan. I was impressed by the fact that a girl hailing from such a backward district of KPK, had better English and a far superior vision at age 11 to 16 than anybody in the same age group had in my generation, although we got educated at the best schools from much more advanced districts of the same province. It goes to prove that Malala is truly a blessed child from Pakistan who bravely overcame the adversities of the worst nature to accomplish her dream.

Reading Malala's autobiography reminded me that it was in my high school days spent in the same region where my friends and I had gotten into a hobby of hiking with our dogs in the wilderness.

She may already be on the mountaintop.
She may already be on the mountaintop. | Source

Final words

MsDora in her response to Bill's challenge has correctly stated that the women who make it to the mountaintop deserve to be celebrated and imitated. In addition to endurance, they teach us confidence and dedication.

And of course, Bill's piece about his wife is simply priceless, when he says, "When her days have finally ended, and she is but a memory to those who knew her, she will always be seen upon that mountaintop, arms stretched wide, welcoming life and all it offers, and giving the same." This applies to all women that I have read or known and who have made it to the mountaintop.

And finishing this piece, I would like to remind my fellow hubbers that there may be some women hubbers who may have reached a mountaintop or may be close to reaching one, just like the lady in the picture here. I hope we are able to recognize her and her great work.

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Comments 32 comments

Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you, VocalCoach.

Your comments are very encouraging and mean a lot to me. I really appreciate.

Thanks and regards,

Suhail and K2


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 3 months ago from Nashville Tn.

You make me proud to be a woman! Your writing and descriptive form compels me to read more of your exciting stories. Sorry I just recently found you...but now that I have, I know I'll become addicted to your talent.

Sharing,

Audrey


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 8 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you, Uzma. That was so nice of you to have read my article and left such an encouraging comment.

Regards,

Suhail


uzma shaheen profile image

uzma shaheen 8 months ago from Lahore,Pakistan

Truly Incredible and brave women you mentioned here. Of course, Malala is known to us and thank you for letting me know two other great women who broke all the barriers and reached their mountaintop. Real inspiration!

Awesomely written.

Best Regards,

Uzma


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 9 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you, Stella.

It is always a pleasure to hear from you.


ladyguitarpicker profile image

ladyguitarpicker 9 months ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

This is one great article, I really enjoyed this. voted up!


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 22 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Shyron,

And while at that you may have read how terrorists attacked a school again, this time in Peshawar, which is 70 kms south of where Malala grew up and only 27 kms west of where I grew up, killing 165 innocent teenaged students. There are no words to describe this ruthlessness, cruelty and antipathy as the terrorists got hold of these beautiful angels and shot them in their heads. There used to be a time when even terrorists had some basic human and animal values.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 22 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you for reading my article, Mary.

Your daughter must do it. US deserves a coverage like this.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 22 months ago

Beautiful, I was blown away. Malala is not just a role model for young people from developing countries like Pakistan. Malala is a role model for all mankind, that we call all climb OUR mountain.

Thank you for writing this.

Voted up, UABI and shared.


mary615 profile image

mary615 22 months ago from Florida

You have certainly had an exciting life! I loved the story of the gal and her camels. I have a daughter who wants to walk across America with only a donkey; she is serious, too.

I really enjoyed reading this Hub and these amazing women.

Voted UP, etc. and shared.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 23 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you, Jo. I just used my style of writing, that is, non-fiction adventure, to post this response to Bill's challenge.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 23 months ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

Suhail, an incredible article, great examples of some amazing women who climbed that mountain and made it to the top. Malala is an exceptionally brave and inspirational young woman. Nice work!


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 24 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you, Jamie. I stuck to my forte - writing about non-fiction adventure stories.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 24 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Deb,

I will always be there cheering you up till you get at that mountaintop.


jhamann profile image

jhamann 2 years ago from Reno NV

Thank you for a wonderful read, well put together and enjoyable. Jamie


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

A beautiful piece, Suhail, and wow, that is a heck of a mountaintop to climb, but my plan is to do it. Thanks for your support in everything.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you, Shanmarie. I had to come up with this as I only write non-fiction adventure.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 2 years ago from Texas

Not what I expected, but very educational and inspirational!


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you, Genna East. These are the most kindest words and I am glad that you identified and mentioned Deb Hirt. She appeared only because of similar interests (but not exactly the same haha). I will now be looking forward to your response to Bill's challenge.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

Suhail, I looked forward to reading your response to Bill’s challenge, given your love and understanding of nature and your adventures with K2. I know the work of Fossey, Goodall, and Galdikas, but I loved your info and inspirational stories about these other three remarkable women (I am familiar with brave Malala’s story) who reached the mountaintop in different ways. Your approach is simply brilliant, and quite moving. Thank you for that photo of nature photographer, Deb Hirt. Stunning writing!


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you, Linda. Those are kind and very encouraging words indeed.


lrc7815 profile image

lrc7815 2 years ago from Central Virginia

You are a gifted writer and your response to Bill's challenge is phenomenal. Although Malala was known to me, you introduced me to two other amazing women that I will learn more about in the days to come. Each of these three women deserve the honor you have bestowed upon them. Few men are willing to admit that they have been inspired by a woman. You did so with grace. I loved this piece and am headed to your profile to become a follower and a fan. Beautiful writing with a lot of heart!


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you, Linda (AliciaC) for the nice comments.

I wanted to respond to the challenge, but felt very uncomfortable with writing fiction. I decided to cling to my roots - non-fiction, adventure of sort.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thanks, Nell.

I read so many responses and was truly impressed by their quality, but I decided to write from a point of view with which I was comfortable.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

This was brilliant! I loved the way you did this! amazing women, and yes we should all attain to meet that mountain top!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is a very interesting and informative hub, Suhail. I love your approach to the challenge. Thank you for sharing the stories of these inspirational women.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you, Audrey. I took woman on the mountaintop as a symbolic representation and built my hub around it.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 2 years ago from California

I loved the array of women and talents that you covered in this article--well done!


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you, Eiddwen.

I broke my record of writing a hub in a short span of 24 hours haha.

Thank you for sharing my hub onward as well.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thanks, Bill. These words are a treasure load of encouragement for me. I managed to write this hub in the shortest span of time from my standard of writing one.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 2 years ago from Wales

Just one word here ; Brilliant. Voted up and shared.

Eddy.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

Bravo my friend. You mentioned some remarkable women, and your message is right on. I love how you handled this, using your own experiences, and those of others, to make a photograph come alive and become a symbol. Well done!

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