Ten-year old Raina Sharma is an avid reader and it was her early reading material on Geronimo Stilton (the mild mannered journalist mouse who invariably found himself right in the middle of some juicy adventure) that roused the adventurer spirit in her.
She was particularly drawn to her maiden Geronimo book, Mighty Mount Kilimanjaro, that featured her favourite character conquering the snowy peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro with his sporty friend, Bruce Hyena. It was such a thrilling story that she had read and re read it more times than she could remember. How exhilarating it must be to actually climb a mountain, Raina often thought.
Alas, she didn’t have an adrenaline junkie friend like Bruce Hyena to show up unexpectedly on her doorstep and whisk her away for a climbing adventure. But she was in for a surprise. Because one fine morning, Raina’s not-so-sporty father announced that they would be trekking to Deoriatal- Chandrashila. Rat munching rattlesnakes, she thought like Geronimo. She would be going on her very own adventure!
Prepping for the trek
Now Raina loved Geronimo Stilton, but she wasn’t about to make the same mistakes he did during his Mt. Kilimanjaro trek. She would be well prepared for her trek. She diligently woke up early every morning and joined her father for a rigorous run around the nearby lake. By the end of two months, Raina could easily complete a 3 km run. They had even picked up their trekking gear and settled on who would carry what. Now all she had to do was wait for the day of the trek.
9th April, 2017 arrived sooner than she thought. Before she knew it, she was at base camp Sari and Raina met the adults who would be part of her trekking group for the next six days. They were pleasantly surprised at the presence of a ten-year-old in their midst but she wasn’t certain whether the inclusion of these new people would ruin the fun of her adventure. Wouldn’t it be better with just her and her father, like the awesome twosome, Geronimo and Bruce?
Found a friend in the Trek Leader
For now, Raina shirked off her doubts and focused on her big adventure. All her training paid off and unlike Geronimo, she was one of the fittest trekkers in the group. She invariably led the way with her awesome Trek Leader, Indrajit, whom she fondly referred to as Jit.
Jit was a really fun adult! He was very energetic and was always ready for a game of “chase” during the trek. He also seemed to know the confusing mountain paths like the back of his hand. Jit, would certainly beat Bruce Hyena in a mountaineering competition, noted little Raina.
Raina the Explorer!
However, Raina soon forgot to engage Jit in yet another game of chase. She was spellbound by the glorious sights. There were mysterious forest trails lined with beautiful unknown plants and tall trees that seemed to poke through the fluffy white clouds. Huge, towering mountains peaked and dipped like the spikes of a sleeping dinosaur. Picturesque meadows sprawled out, dotted with flowers of every hue.
The Deoriatal lake was an especially beautiful sight. It was unlike any city lake she had ever seen, glistening in shades of blue and green as if the lake bed itself was embedded with emerald and turquoise crystals.
Another exciting aspect of her trek was the short cuts she sought out. There was one short cut that she was particularly proud of. The entire group was about half a kilometre away from the Akash Kamini stream and Raina didn’t see the point in plodding along the long, winding path that led to the stream.
Not only did she find shortcuts, she even helped her fellow trekkers down several tricky trails.
That’s when something that hadn’t struck her before dawned on her. Maybe the others around her were part of her adventure too. They were all characters in her story.
Raina even got to spend some quiet moments with her father. They always were an exceptionally close duo but spending time with each other amidst the backdrop of such scenic views was even better than their bonding sessions back home. “In life, the journey is more important than the destination. Enjoy every moment of your journey. There is a lot of happiness and lessons to be found every step of the way,” he told her during their sunset rendezvous. Raina didn’t quite understand. Wasn’t conquering the Chandrashila peak the purpose of her adventure?
The morning of her summit climb, she was wide awake and ready to go before 4 a.m. She would be trekking even before daylight.
While all that inhabited the mountains were in deep slumber, Raina climbed uphill, beneath the star-speckled skies, with only her co- trekkers and rustling trees for company. She was so focused on the stony path that she didn’t even realise when the sun made its appearance. Further and further she climbed, leading her group along with Jit, past steep grassy slopes and uneven terrain till she spotted the ancient temple of Tungnath.
In awe of the mountains
Oh to be surrounded by snow! Wherever Raina looked, it was just blankets of white upon white. And amidst all that snow, she could see her destination, the Chandrashila peak. The majestic peak looked so beautiful, like it was completely doused in snow! Her group was anticipating the sunrise view from the peak and she didn’t quite fathom the excitement. How different would a mountain sunrise be from the one she saw from her balcony at home?
Several complicated scissor bends later, Raina realised that there was nothing that could compare to a mountain sunrise. She stood on the Chandrashila peak, with her arms outstretched, basking in the glory of that spectacular sunrise and the success of her trek. Raina thought that this was the big finish to her exciting adventure, but she was in for a bigger surprise.
For her unmatched zest for trekking, Jit awarded her the Spirit of Trekking Award.
Raina was ecstatic. Holding her certificate, Raina looked back on her entire Deoriatal- Chandrashila experience. They were the six most exciting days of her life and in that moment she realised that her father was indeed right, every step of the journey meant so much more than the destination.
The Mighty Chandrashila Peak, a Raina Sharma adventure, might have been a small scale adventure in comparison to Geronimo’s, but it would certainly give her favourite book character some serious adventure goals for his future escapades!