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    Above 1,600m the forest gives way to dark green spruces and firs. The trail crosses a small stream with reportedly the best water in the area, and then begins up the pine covered mountain that the monastery tops.

    This part of the route is quite steep but is very well maintained with steps and ladders to aid the climb. 

    There was not a soul to be seen, the silence was haunting and for a moment all movement from nature ceased to produce a single whisper. I continued climbing steeply until I emerged suddenly from the forest onto a ridge.

    Laid out before me was the stunning vista of the snow-capped Tian Shan peaks and the higher Aksai gorge. The view in the autumn was specially beautiful with the leaves on the trees starting to turn.

    The Aksai Orthodox Monastery is situated outside of Almaty (Kazakhstan) and it was rebuilt few times over the last century. History left its mark on the gravestone at the entrance of the territory with a reference to martyrs Serafim and Feognost fallen in 1921 during revolutionary years. The church itself was gracefully completed of larch wood specially brought from Siberia of a warm yellow color with two domes of different sizes.

    A little further, some open gates framed perfectly the mountains in front of me and I could not avoid thinking that I was about to enter into the “gates to heaven”. I stoped for a moment and looked back. While my travelling companions continued I closed my eyes.

    Deep in my soul I felt that heaven can be a state of mind if you keep the gates of your heart open to the endless beauty around us. This week try to go out for a walk in nature and reconnect with yourself. 

    In this increasingly virtual world, make sure you find the time to make your human existence tangible. If you need a little help, don´t hesitate to get in contact – www.walkingmentorship.com

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