At Indiahikes, we are often asked questions that are perplexing to most. But they are as simple as daylight to us. Trekkers often ask us, "Why do you ask us to pitch our tents?” “Why do you ask us to carry our backpacks?” "Why do you ask us to wash our utensils?" We do this because we follow the spirit of trekking. Arjun Majumdar, the CEO and founder of Indiahikes, pens down his thoughts on “Why do we trek the way we do?”
I wanted trekking to be a transformative experience when I started Indiahikes — an experience that would affect our mind, body, and spirit.
After a trek, I always felt lighter, more self-assured, and more resilient. I knew deep down that treks were more than just beautiful scenery.
On my treks, I noticed how trekking pushed me to challenge my physical limits. It improved my fitness and overall health.
Trekking helped me build determination and focus. I was able to surpass my limitations and become more mentally strong. It showed in my work and how I dealt with people.
We faced increasingly difficult situations in my family business before Indiahikes. Yet, every time I went on a trek, I found it easier to deal with these situations.
Trekking helped me find inner peace and contentment. I found a balance between my mind, body, and spirit. It allowed me to live a more fulfilled and enriched life.
The spirit of trekking played a significant role in my personal transformation. Following these principles helped me fully immerse myself in the trekking experience.
What is the Indiahikes Spirit of Trekking
The spirit of trekking is a set of values and principles that encourages us to trek more mindfully. It is a map that guides our behaviour on a trek.
It shows us how to be open to adventure and why it is important to blend in with nature. It tells us why we need to be self-sufficient and supportive towards fellow trekkers. It guides us to be fit and prepared for a trek. It also tells us why it is critical to protect the environment.
Here they are, in brief, the six principles of our Indiahikes’ Spirit of Trekking.
1. We are always up for an adventure
The first principle of the spirit of trekking is to be open to adventure. This mindset encourages you to embrace the challenge of the trek. It allows you to immerse yourself fully in the trek.
I’ve learned that trekking will not always be easy. Sometimes things may not go as planned. But that's the beauty of it. It means preparing for whatever may come your way and learning to take the good with the bad.
By accepting the ups and downs of the trek, I could push myself outside of my comfort zone. I was able to experience things that I never thought were possible.
Once, the wind blew so hard that we couldn't pitch our tents. We were at 12,000 feet. We had to walk for another six hours to find shelter. We had to spend the freezing night in a dilapidated shepherd’s hut. The same night, unable to sleep, I saw one of the best sights of the Milky Way.
I could enjoy a trek even in less favourable weather conditions — rain, snow, or sunshine. This allowed me to have an unforgettable experience. It helped me to understand the true meaning of adventure.
The mindset of embracing challenges helped me become more resilient. It taught me that I am capable of more than I ever imagined.
Being open to adventure means being open to new perspectives and ways of thinking. It encourages a mindset of flexibility and adaptability.
2. We blend in with nature
The second principle of the spirit of trekking is to blend in with nature. Being noisy while trekking can not only be disruptive to other trekkers but also harm the natural environment.
The mountains are a sanctuary of peace and tranquillity. We must strive to preserve that by being mindful of our noise.
Earlier, I often saw monals, one of the most exquisite birds in our Himalayas. Nowadays, they have almost vanished. It is the noise that is driving them away. I have spotted martens and foxes on my treks. They are rarely seen among noisy trekkers. This loss makes me extremely sad.
At campsites, I frequently see trekkers who insist on singing loudly or listening to music through Bluetooth speakers. Antakshari is the go-to entertainment for trekkers.
I find it disrespectful and disruptive to the peacefulness of nature when someone shouts, yells, or listens to loud music in the mountains. I choose to avoid that.
Being a quiet trekker has added to my overall experience in the mountains. The sounds of birds singing, the rustling of leaves in the wind, and the sound of a gentle stream all contribute to the peaceful ambience of the mountains. Being quiet, I can truly take it all in.
At Indiahikes, we blend in with nature. We are part of nature, not just visitors. It is in this spirit that we trek.
3. We protect the environment
The third principle of the spirit of trekking is to protect the environment. This means being mindful when using resources such as water and fuel. It also means properly disposing of waste. As trekkers, we are responsible for minimising our impact and leaving the mountains better than we found them.
Very early in my trekking life, a fellow trekker forced me to carry back all my trash. I used to burn them earlier. It made me realise the impact of human activities on nature. It made me more aware of my actions and their environmental effects. It made me want to do better and be more responsible.
I see our trekking trails getting impacted by trekking. Wrappers, aluminium foil, alcohol bottles, and sanitary napkins strew trails. I anguish every day about the amount of litter left behind.
I went on the Deoriatal Chandrashila trek. Where no one could see, there was a hillside full of trash. It was like a landfill.
The Khullara campsite on the Kuari Pass trek was shut down recently because of excessive litter.
At Indiahikes, we want to be sustainable trekkers. We carry an eco-bag around our waists to pick up litter from the trail. We segregate this waste. We undo the damage others have done. It is our way of preserving our environment.
Being sustainable on our treks has impacted my personal life as well. At home, we have significantly reduced buying packaged goods. We take our dabbas to restaurants. I have consciously moved towards leading a very minimalistic lifestyle. We focus on reducing our consumption. It feels more fulfilling. It allows me to actively contribute towards preserving our environment.
Sustainable trekking helps reduce the impact on the environment. It promotes conservation efforts. By doing this, we make sure that future generations can also appreciate the natural beauty of our treks.
4. We are self-sufficient
The fourth principle of the spirit of trekking is self-sufficiency. This means being prepared for the trek. It means packing efficiently and taking care of yourself without relying on others.
Recently, we explored a new trail to the Gidara Bugyal. We had to carry everything, including tents and cooking gear. I felt a sense of accomplishment when I completed the trek on my terms. I realised that by being self-sufficient, we could tackle every emergency. I enjoyed the trek to the fullest and took pride in my abilities.
Self-reliance is an essential aspect of trekking.
We demonstrate self-reliance by carrying our backpacks. We pack well and light, taking only what we need and leaving behind anything unnecessary. Our backpacks weigh, at most, 8 or 9 kg. The advantage is that with a lighter backpack, we can better handle the trek's challenges.
Self-sufficiency is knowing how to read trail maps on mobile devices (like Gaia or GeoTracker). We learn basic navigation skills before we get on the trek. On the trek, we hone our skills further. It makes us independent. We don't have to ask the trek leader how far the camp is or how long it will take.
Being self-sufficient is when we can take care of ourselves without needing help from others. Some trekkers expect others to do things for them, like clean their dishes after meals or set up their tents. But this is not fair to the people who are helping them. It's like treating our helpers like they are not important or valuable.
I do not find it respectful to expect others to do our work for us. It's better to be able to do things ourselves and not treat others like they are there to serve us.
Being self-sufficient is a powerful reminder that we can do much more than we often give ourselves credit for.
It also applies to my everyday life. Being self-sufficient makes me feel more confident. It helps me tackle challenges and take risks. It is a valuable life lesson that I carry with me everywhere.
5. We are supportive
The fifth principle of the spirit of trekking is being supportive.
Being supportive entails being willing to share, whether it's lunch, water, or equipment. It's also about helping fellow trekkers when they need it. It is about putting the team first.
Sometimes it comes with a sacrifice. One winter on the Kedarkantha trek, I had to wait more than an hour for a slower team member to catch up. It was bitingly cold. Yet, this gesture went a long way in helping my team member complete the trek.
By being willing to share, we can build a sense of camaraderie and teamwork that helps us overcome any challenges we may face. It allows us to make lasting connections with our fellow trekkers.
On the recent Gidara Bugyal exploration, a team member quietly took out the heavy jackets from my backpack. They were weighing me down. This support made the trek easier for me. It made me feel grateful and inspired me to trek with my fellow trekkers more frequently.
Being supportive helps us look beyond our needs and focus on the group's well-being. This spirit reinforces the idea that trekking is not just about individual achievement. It allows us to create an unforgettable experience together as a team.
6. We are fit and prepared
The sixth principle of the spirit of trekking is to be fit and prepared. This means building up stamina and endurance, strengthening the body, and developing the necessary skills to trek long distances.
Kugti Pass was a trek that went above 16,000 feet. On the day we crossed the pass, we started at 5 in the morning. It was a long day. We didn't set up our tents until around 5 p.m. We trekked for 12 hours at extremely high altitudes. By preparing well for the trek, I had enough energy to complete the day’s trek without tiring. I was able to truly enjoy the trek.
Preparing well for a trek requires commitment. But it is crucial for the success of the trek. You become an equal member of the team, not a burden or hindrance. You can keep up with the group and not rely on extra resources, such as the trek leader or guide. You can be of help to the team.
On the Hampta Pass trek, one of our trekkers developed acute AMS at the Shiagoru camp. Two fit trekkers immediately offered to help. With the help of the trek leader, they evacuated her in the middle of the night. Preparing well allows you to jump in to help in an emergency.
On the other hand, by taking the time to prepare, you're less likely to experience injuries or discomfort, which can make for an unpleasant experience. People ask me how I descend quickly off the mountains without straining my knees. It is my preparation.
Preparing for a trek can be both rewarding and enjoyable. Trekkers have shared how preparing for a trek has influenced their journey to becoming fitter. It is a great way to set and achieve fitness goals. Training can be a big motivation for you to lead an active lifestyle.
My concluding thoughts
Our Spirit of Trekking is an essential aspect of the Indiahikes experience. It is a set of values and principles that encourages you to trek with the right mindset.
Trekking in the mountains is an experience like no other. The natural beauty, the crisp mountain air, and the sense of accomplishment make it an unforgettable experience. But to truly enjoy and appreciate the trekking experience, you must follow the Spirit of Trekking.