She was paralysed from the chest down at 21.
Today, Karen Darke is a traveller, explorer, gold medal para-athlete and author of two books. Incredible, exemplary, inspiring…the adjectives in our vocabulary don’t do justice to this woman’s can-do spirit, Our questions, her insights:
The biggest lesson life has taught me is…to believe in yourself, your big dreams, and the amazingness of human nature.
The most breathtaking sight I have ever seen is…riding my bike toward the edge of the Tibetan plateau looking across the Himalaya and down into Nepal: a stunning mountain landscape exploding out of bundles of Tibetan prayer flags and a feeling of literally being on top of the world.
One travel mistake I will never repeat…I have missed a few flights in my time and learned that it’s always good to pre-check travel plans the week or few days before, as sometimes airlines change their schedule. I recently had a flight rescheduled by two days, not 10 minutes!!!
A hair-raising travel moment…the hairs raised on the back of my neck when I found myself, just two years after becoming paralysed, at the top of the Khunjerab Pass between China and Pakistan, high in the Himalaya, with a LONG downhill cycle ride ahead. It was so incredible to be there, in a mountain paradise, after six months in a spinal injuries hospital thinking that my life of adventure was over, pedaling a handbike through Central Asia and over the worlds biggest mountain range. We had taken a two-month, unsupported cycle journey from Kyrgyzstan to China, then Pakistan. Life-changing.
The most surprising discovery I’ve made on my travels…the ability that travel and temporary deprivation can bring to feeling appreciation and gratitude for things we would normally take for granted, is both surprising and a gift in itself. The tiniest taste of food, the billows of a pillow, the comfort of turning a tap on for water
My advice to fellow travellers… that no matter how difficult a situation gets or how bad things might seem, there is always an amazing, generous, human heart that you will encounter to ease your passage. Trust the world and the people in it
Karen Darke blogs on www.karendarke.com and www.inspireandimpact.com. Read her incredible story, follow her adventures and be inspired! We’ll bring you many more from this gritty woman. Karen can also be reached on:
Karen Darke spoke to Jatin Hisaria of Travel Secrets magazine