On the road to heaven, a mountain is just a stair.
– Commander Sachin Pawar, Indian Navy
Of all the questions raised by man, it is the ones that start with ‘why’ that have always been more challenging to our rational minds. It is interesting that we somehow find ways to not answer that disturbing why. However, here I will try to address the question of why people trek, aided with the insight gained from my role as a Trek Leader.
Through years of evolution and development, humans have reached a point where we have our lives designed for us. Lives crafted around comfort and luxury. We have GPS and traffic lights telling us where to go, we have dishwashers to wash our utensils and we have food that’s ready even before we get hungry. We have air conditioned cubicles that protect us from the elements of nature and we have machines automating our work. We never have to step outside of our comfort zones. We don’t even need to think for ourselves! While all of this is making our lives easier, it is also stealing our natural ability to make choices. A trek is where you get to experience a glimpse of your true natural self in a short span of time.
A trek is primarily a showcase of human values.
After spending days in the remotest and harshest environments with new people and different cultures, we realize our capacity to be open to opinions. Somewhere along the way each trekker starts to care for the whole team. By the end of 6 days we have learned to empathize and to help selflessly. We realize that we need very little for happiness. Nature shows us that accumulation of tangible things isn’t the mantra for joy, experiences are.
I realized that I get to be a part of someone else’s story. A story they will share with pride.
Trekking towards Chandrashila summit
If i were to examine how these values get instilled on a trek, this is how it would look:
The day you make a choice to trek. In order to complete it successfully, you require a lot of persistent effort. Weeks, sometimes months of toiling before the actual trek date. There will be hindrances as you progress but they are there to be overcome.
It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.- Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling)
The moment you take up a new challenge, you will always be a bit more confident. Not because the mountains have to do anything with your goal but because it has everything to do with your self- confidence.
Mountains can force even the most seasoned trekkers to the extent that they have to put themselves out there to faith and trust. Without faith there is no teamwork and without teamwork there is no discipline and without discipline there will be no successful trek.
Being disciplined in the mountains has its perks. You get ready on time and keep up with schedule to catch the sunrise. Every minute counts, as while the sun sets it gets difficult to find a place to pitch tent and it gets cold the moment sun goes out of sight.
An important factor many of us take for granted is team work. We look at expeditions and hail the climbers but forget the porters when it comes to giving credit. We tend to underestimate the fact that being surrounded by people makes the trek a lot more easier than a solo trek. Somewhere in between the conversations you might easily complete a two kilometer ascent. Somewhere in your mind you want to stop cribbing and complete the trek with grace because there is an elderly trekker climbing up slowly without any complaints.
I have seen people making all sorts of bonds on the trek starting from friends, partners, mentor and even father- son relationships. We believe the bonds made in the mountains are the best kind.
Trekkers climbing to the Kanamo Summit PC: Mark Savio Rodrigues
One starts a trek for a lot of reasons and sometimes for no reason whatsoever, which in itself makes it more rewarding. Whenever I ask my trekkers as to what brought them to the mountains, I get interesting responses which seem to resonate with most other trekkers. Some of them are reproduced here below:
It's a call from within to experience and live life. Treks are nature's pathways to be free , alone , get enveloped by the magic of the universe and feel oneself a part of it .It opens my mind in a limitless way to accept, to marvel, to respect, to change, to share, to love and enjoy the simple things of life. I trek to live life.- Varma Datla, Deputy Commissioner -Taxes, Government of India
Each day of the trek is like life with ups and downs and it gives us the mental strength to survive. It connects me to Nature and shows me how insignificant and trivial our daily life problems are compared to life in the mountains.Trekking with family brings its own share of added benefit. It allows you to bond with your family members and spend quality time with them without the usual distractions which a conventional vacation has.- Sujit Kolke, Manager, PTC Software, Pune, India
Modern life has made available many amenities and comforts. I trek in order to experience what our primordial ancestors did when they migrated through hardships crossing hill and vale in search of sweet waters and bountiful land. I do it to feel the vulnerability and fleetness of life. To envisage heights and sights unbesmirched by human hands, harsh, forbidding, alluring and peaceful. To know that my footsteps would vanish as the elements reclaim them with the sands of time. Yet in my heart claim those memories as mine.- Chandrasekhar, CEO-Vision Earthcare
Let me share why this trip has been the most wonderful trip of my life. It feels as though I've come back with new dreams which will be unfolded each day as I experience them. An accomplishment, An achievement.. This five day journey to the summit has erupted an hidden personality within me, to let go off my fears and embrace the challenges with an open mind. It has taught me to take baby steps if I have to accomplish my aim/ goals in my life. To avoid a fall you have to step on a firm ground and most importantly it has showed me that it is only you who can walk this difficult path.- Sangeeta Henjmadi, Psychologist and counselor
I, as a trek leader feel powerful as I help and guide my trekkers. If my trekker is faced with a decision/situation that is way out of their comfort zone and they overcome it by thinking of how they persevered through harsh conditions on the trek, then I would consider it as a successful trek.