Locked in our houses, the image of lush green fields, Himalayan ranges on either sides and wild horses picturesquely grazing on grass has become a distant reality. Hoping that lockdown ends soon, neither of us can wait to go back to the mountains and connect with nature.
We both have been avid trekking enthusiasts for a while now. But, for different reasons. Our outlook on what we appreciate about the mountains, and what we look forward to are similar but hint at divergent personalities. Read up and figure out which belief do you connect to!
One reason why you enjoy trekking?
Kriti: The first trek for me was simply a way to get out of my gruelling job and experience something I haven’t before. I was also finally on the fitness bandwagon, and doing a challenging trek was a good goal to prepare for. But, Rupin pass trek with Indiahikes changed everything for me. Now, trekking means so much more to me. It is a chance to live in an alternate world with lesser amenities, limited food, but closer to nature and my true self. Potatoes for every other meal, sleeping in tents over rocky uneven lands, no hot water at 15,000 ft and carrying the stuff you bring on your shoulders while walking 50+ miles. This can bother every city-loving girl like me, but it sounds rather appealing when I am enroure my next trek.
I love getting lost in this new world, with limited or no ties to my world outside. Not like I don’t love my world, trekking just helps me see a world I would have lived probably a couple of centuries ago. And this minimalism really appeals to me.
Pulak: When I went for my first trek, it was just an alternate version of a vacation. I searched online, came across a website called Indiahikes, and just booked Rupin Pass. The trek description and pictures, made me believe it would take me to a happy place.
My first experiences were not very pleasing. I did not sign up to walk 30km everyday, with a bag-pack – that was not my idea of a vacation. I am more of a sitting by the beach and sipping on a beer, kinda’ person. Once, I came back, I started missing it. The views, the world, the sunrise, the sunsets, the evening when you could just sit alone, no pinging of the phone, no connectivity – I think I didn’t know what solitude means before this trek.
Trekking became a process to know myself. You walk for hours, think about things and feelings, your thoughts get aligned, you get time to see things around you and also, you do make new friends (Kriti and I met on the Rupin pass trek for the first time). It was a new world, I had never been exposed to.
Which one is your favourite day in a long-distance trek?
Kriti: I look forward to the very first day of a trek. The gradual transitioning from roads, streetlights and buses/jeeps to greenery everywhere and small huts far off in distance let me sink into the experience. Typical first night stay of a Himalayan trek is in a family-owned small house in the mountains. The concrete jungle is out of sight and the jungle is a couple miles away. Being in this between zone on the first day reassures me of the existence of both worlds and lets me soak into the minimalist world gradually.
Pulak: Oh I love the summit day. The adrenaline rush. Every step you take, you feel like someone just punched you in the chest. You just can’t breathe. Your target is right in front of you. A few people pass you, a few behind you, no-one stops on this day, your friend, your partner, everyone is literally on their own and struggling with their own battles. That one day for me sums up life. And the minute you reach the summit – suddenly the serotonin rush makes you forget the lack of oxygen, the altitude, the tiredness – you are just happy and jumping and amazed at yourself that you made it. I am not surprised mountaineers have Summit Fever and many die because of it. I surely belong to that category.
How does it work out with the hectic work schedules?
Kriti: The single biggest challenge with having a hobby that invariably takes 10+ days every time you indulge, is how to tell you boss about it. I have had a very hectic work schedule with minimal holidays. Personally, I am also someone who thinks utilizing all the holidays I get is a crime. Which means that if I go for a trek, then I have to kiss goodbye to other trips that year. And with that pretext, my company and team members are fine with me being off the grid entirely. For someone who is on top of emails at midnight, not having my laptop for 10 days is exactly the detox I need. Hence, I don’t mind a trek as the only big break in the year because this is not just my hobby but my idea of a perfect vacation.
Pulak: As a medical student and a Doctor in the Indian medical system, leaves and holidays are an alien concept. Even if you take a day off for a personal reason or illness, you’re looked down upon. When I took my first leave for a trek, 12 days, I was a post-graduate. I got these leaves after working non stop for 8 months (including weekends). And it also meant no leaves for the next 6 months. But now, as a professional doctor, I am totally okay planning a trek and adjusting it in my schedule (cannot be spontaneous though). A trek essentially resets the way I think and that increases my efficiency. Whatever I lose, trekking is something that I need to do for myself, and I don’t want to lose that.