A week ago if you were to tell me that a trek can change your perception of life, I would have probably laughed at you. If you were to tell me that I would become more emotional, I might have mocked you.
Yet, today I stand here as a changed person from my trek to Har Ki Dun in the October of 2017.
A Himalayan trek was a happenstance, thanks to my sister and her colleagues at work. My sister talked me and my wife into doing a high altitude trek and insisted that we do it with Indiahikes.
The first hurdle I faced was my weight. I was way above the BMI limit set by Indiahikes. Having booked the trek well in advance, I had about 8 months to get fit before my trek.
At first, it was just a mere test of endurance for me. I knew I had to prepare well before the trek.
The solid chance of getting rejected at the base camp Sankri for being overweight was the one thing that kept me going.
The second hurdle was that soon after we booked our first Himalayan trek together, my wife and I discovered that we are expecting a baby. This raised concerns of me and my wife going on the trek. But my wife was very supportive. She said that my sister and I must go on this trek together. She was disappointed but that didn’t make her any less part of our trek.
Getting fit for the trek
My wife encouraged me and my sister to train for the trek a lot and we even got to do a 10k run on the day of her baby shower.
To give you a quick insight on my weight loss regime, I simply followed a healthy diet and exercised.
I made sure I ate the right food at the right time.
I only ate when I felt hungry. But I ate at the first signs of hunger pangs and didn’t wait till I was very hungry. This helped me curb junk food cravings.
This diet went hand in hand with with a strict fitness regime. I did a combination of pace running for 5 km, endurance running of 10 km and sometimes even an hour and a half of a timed endurance run.
I ran twice a week and went on a long distance run on Sundays. This was interspersed with strength training for the upper body and the lower body using weights.
An alternate of High Intensity Training such as calisthenics, stairs and ramp runs were also part of my workout.
I started a tracker named ‘Metamorphosis’ for drama’s sake. I added the mileage, push-ups, cycling and everything else that I do to the tracker as well. That kept me motivated.
I have run about 490 km so far and there is no stopping me.
I was able to bring my weight down from 88 kg to 74 kg before the trek. More than the weight loss itself, I looked and felt fit in my body.
Transforming from within
This transformation alone got me thinking that this trek was not just an accidental choice. It was a life-changing decision.
By now I was really looking forward to the trek.
Before I went on the trek I was a different person. I was hard-wired on many things.
I used to judge people easily. This is why I was worried about sharing my tent with strangers.
When the debate regarding ‘Two to a tent or Three’ was on, I was hoping that the two to a tent wins so I only have to deal with one stranger. We even planned to take our own tents, sleeping bags and mats. But looking at the weight it added we decided against it.
On the trek, I was the last one to choose the tent hoping that all the tents get full so that I’m allowed to sleep in the kitchen tent. That is how anxious I was.
But to my surprise, all these perspectives changed the moment my tent mates welcomed me to our tent.
I had judged them earlier and was certain that we won’t get along.
Over the course of days, I felt ashamed of myself for judging people so quickly.
My tent mates were in fact an epitome of tent etiquette just like an article I read on the Indiahikes website had mentioned.
I enjoyed their company thoroughly and they gave me enough space and time in the tent.
When I felt a little sick at Har Ki Dun, they went out of their way to take care of my belongings, arranging my sleeping bag, drying it under the sun and putting it back inside. All this without any fuss and without me knowing about it.
Would I have done this for someone else? If you ask the pre-trek version of me, I’d probably have second thoughts. But after having experienced such kindness from strangers I must say that I have changed. It proves that humanity prevails and there are people who deserve to be given chances.
Learning to love the right way
A massive change in my life happened because of a 9-year-old on the trek. She had come along with her parents and the trio taught me how to show love the right way.
I have my own way of showing love and thought that it was the right way to express my feelings.
All through the trek I was walking behind my sister watching her feet on even moderately tough terrain. I was always ready to spring into action as soon as I see anything amiss. On the fifth day when I saw her stumble a bit I jumped and put my body as a shield to protect her. While doing that I almost slipped near a crevice. In that, I myself almost slipped off a crevice. That is how I show love.
This little girl was walking ahead of us on landslide-prone terrain where there was a lot of slush. As usual I was on guard for my sister.
Just then something strange happened.
The girl’s father was taking photos of his daughter walking through this part of the trail. He monitored how she attempted the crossing but he was not walking her through it. It was very different from the way I was helping my sister. I was not expecting this.
This small gesture brought a clarity on how to show love to your loved one.
This father taught his daughter how to cross a tricky section on the trail by allowing her to do it on her own. In the process he allowed her to fall and learn from it while he waited at a distance.
That day I learnt another way to show love. And surprisingly enough, it also seemed like a better way.
Although my love for my sister was true. It was not helping my sister evolve. It was just making her more dependent on me.
Beyond this small incident, I had been watching how the trio went through the entire trek as a family. As an expectant father, I keenly observed how they groomed their child. These are hard, life-changing experiences.
I know now where my child needs to be. The same way as this 9-year-old.
This trek gave me the solitude, concentration and focus to introspect my life. I doubt having the mind space for such a transformation to take place anywhere else. It was like a life lesson taking place just for me.
I owe it to my sister, the Indiahikes team and all the trekkers in my batch for learning so many things from my first high altitude trek. I have broken so many stereotypes of myself in just one trek. I can’t wait to see how another trek will change me for the better.