What happens when trekkers from outside India decide to intern with Indiahikes? Two interns from the United States of America spent a month on Deoriatal-Chandrashila trail. Here’s a big slice from their life!
In November 2015, two sprightly girls – Kelly Hodoval and Diane Pham – landed on our Deoriatal-Chandrashila trek. Diane, a pharmacist, was enrolled as an Assistant Trek Leader and Kelly, an environmentalist was spearheading the Green Trail initiative.
A surprising introduction
“Frankly I wasn’t expecting them to make a big difference,” Ankit Naithani, Slope Manager of the trek said, “I thought they would be like trekkers, not involving themselves in operations.”
But Ankit was in for a surprise. “Since Day One, Kelly absolutely pumped trekkers up about the Green Trails initiative. She turned it into a fun activity!,” Ankit recalls, “I expected them to be a little reserved, given that they aren’t from India. But I was surprised!”
And the enthusiasm grew
Every day, Kelly would pep-talk trekkers into keeping the trails and campsite clean. “She made it mandatory for everyone to wear their eco bags throughout the day,” Ankit said, “And the way she said it did the trick. No one refused.”
Diane, on the other hand, had to assist Ankit with trekkers who needed special attention. “Being a pharmacist, she had a fair idea of medicines and it was easy to train her,” Ankit said. “If there was anyone on the trek, who needed hand-holding, Diane was their go-to person.”
Kelly and Diane were initially planning to do a Basic Mountaineering Course and so were carrying extra trekking gear. “They shared their caps and gloves with trekkers in need. Both girls were very outgoing that way.”
But they didn’t know Hindi!
Kelly and Diane had one limitation. They didn’t know Hindi. “They wanted to help with groceries and local shopping. But they couldn’t negotiate or communicate with the local shopkeepers,” Ankit said. Even then, they nose-dived into the deep end of operations.
They washed sleeping bags, ecobags and carried stuff around. They went up and down the same slope time and again, without a sign of boredom. “It was never boring. The slope and kind of work changed every single time!” Kelly and Diane said.
If one night they had a moonless sky filled with a million stars, another night had a big, round moon shining brightly. While some days would be sunny, others would be cloudy, and yet some others would be filled with snow or hail storms.
“I learnt how to be enthusiastic with trekkers,” Ankit says, “Kelly and Diane just changed the whole scale of enthusiasm,” But one point struck Ankit, “They had GPS devices which could send offline messages, backtrack the route. It showed how prepared they were for the trek.” Their preparedness was inspirational.
So was trekking in India different for Kelly and Diane? “Trekking is the same everywhere in the world,” Diane says and Kelly nods, “It is very unifying as it is a reason to be away from cities, technology and all the hustle-bustle. You get to focus on what’s important.”
And these girls did focus on what’s important – the environment. They have certain bright ideas to set things straight. Watch this video to see them both in action and find out what they really want to say.