The mountains always move me. They make me feel alive and allow me to have a glimpse of a part of the world that is non-judgmental and non-materialistic. My favourite pastime is to gaze lovingly at the pictures of mountains and imagine myself being around them.
After successfully completing the Basic Mountaineering Course and three exciting treks in the Himalayas – Chadar, Rupin Pass and Kanamo peak. I felt I was getting quite good at trekking.
This feeling made me over-confident.
And the mountains never appreciate overconfidence.
Out of the 26 fellow trekkers on my trek to Roopkund, only a handful had any experience in trekking. But inspite of having enough experience I struggled on the trail from the beginning.
Quitting wasn’t an option
I was lagging behind everyone on the very first day. So much so that Karthik (trek leader) told me that my pace was too slow. He said it was creating a huge divide between me and the batch and he might have to send me back if it persists. A good boost to encourage my pace.
I thought of giving up several times during the trek but the beauty of the trail was too precious to let go of. The green horizon with the aroma of fresh rain and surreal sunsets made it too compelling.
I started taking things one at a time. Drinking water on time, eating on time, and pushing myself as much as I could to walk. Counting 300 steps before stopping for a minute was reduced to 100 (or even less than 100 at times). Every time the oxygen level was checked at the campsites, I was nervous. While I felt absolutely perfect (enough to play cricket and all other fun games on the campsite), I wasn’t sure about what the oxymeter was going to say.
On the last day I decided to take one step at a time. Waking up and getting ready with my gear. I refilled my water bottles, tied my shoelaces and was in line at 4 am sharp. Now all I had to do was to follow the footsteps of the person ahead. It was quite a foolproof plan. But it failed.
The final call
Right after an hour or so into the trek my nose started bleeding. It was just a drop or so at first, which increased as time passed. By this time I also had a slight headache that became persistent.
I am not sure if it was the physical pain, my deflated ego or simply realizing just how overconfident I had been. But I just broke down and cried.
I informed the trek leader and decided to head back. One of the technical guides decided to accompany me.
Out of 26, I was the only one who couldn’t summit.
I came back to Bhagwabhasa base camp. By now my nose wasn’t bleeding much but my vision was becoming blurry.
The once vibrant campsite full of people looked empty and void.
While I was feeling alone, miserable and confused in my tent, Anuja (who was leading the next trek) visited me. She told me to sleep and that things will be fine after I wake up.
And to my surprise it did! I felt much better listening to the tales of my fellow trekkers who couldn’t stop smiling after their first summit.
Life lessons on the mountains
While I was struggling to climb and mulling over letting go I was told that every mountain is different. One shouldn’t carry the pride of having summited a few mountains before.
I wasn’t sad or angry at not completing the trek. But I was feeling fulfilled even though I hadn’t finished what I started.
The mountains decided to teach me a different lesson this time. It was a life lesson I will always hold on to. I learnt how to accept the reality of a situation. I had to accept that may be I was extremely unprepared for this trek or it just wasn’t meant to be. I learnt to accept that it is okay to go easy on yourself. My overconfidence had nothing over nature’s ways and I had to accept it the way it was.
Every mountain is different and should be attempted like your first trek – with the same excitement, same nervousness, same preparation, same anxiety, same respect and the same zeal.