I have been asked many a times about why do people trek. “What is the point of struggling to get all the way to the top of the mountain, carrying a heavy load, while almost always, a vehicle can take you to the top?” Even though I’m a trekker myself, this question always baffles me. So, I spoke to a few trekkers and read a lot about it. So here are my thoughts summed up into an article.
To be one with nature: I’ve found that it’s mostly city dwellers that like to trek. A lot of local folk stare at trekkers in surprise, “You came all the way from the other side of the country to climb this hill?” Little do they know how city folk are deprived of Mother Nature. It’s true. Being away from the city, in midst of nature, gives one the chance to breathe fresh air, lie down in fresh moist grass and touch those much-coveted pristine streams. It enables one to stare at mountains and trees for hours together, without another thought in the head.
For the adrenaline rush: There are some who trek simply to feel the epinephrine rushing through their blood. Trekking, at some point, does count as an adventure sport. – be it looking down at the precipice of the valley you just ascended, or rappelling down a cliff-face. It satisfies the thirst for living on the edge.
To get fit: Fitness doesn’t always come easy. And sometimes, you have to go the distance simply to get fit. For a lot of fitness freaks, trekking is a great incentive. Why walk on a treadmill when you can walk in the mountains? The road to fitness requires a positive mindset and a great amount of motivation, both of which trekking offers.
To clear one’s mind: Don’t you feel your mind screaming out sometimes to give it a break? Sometimes, it just gets too overloaded with worries about work, commute, EMIs, family, health, children’s school, repairs, and what not! Just a walk in the hills relaxes the mind. Time and again, it has been proven that nature is a great stress-buster. It works just like detox, where you free your mind of thoughts. Besides, just hiking to get to a beautiful place gives you time you sort your thoughts out and put everything into perspective.
Photography: Many photographers climb hills simply to take pictures that they can’t shoot anywhere else. Every step, every moment in the mountains is an opportunity for a fantastic picture. The thrill of clicking a picture and showing it to someone and saying, “I was there,” is unmatched!
To create awareness: The latest trend is to run marathons and trekathons and involve in such activities to create awareness about several things. Several activists climb to create awareness about climate changes, some climb to spread awareness about other ideas such as empowerment of women and it is effective simply because of the reach of such treks.
To overcome challenges: If you like to face challenges, the hills are probably the best place to do so. They’re non-judgmental, they do not disqualify you if you struggle, and they do not belittle your effort if you take a long time to reach the top. In the hills, you can be your own person. What the hills so offer, are challenge and aim. Once those have been achieved, you will get the boost of a lifetime that no one can take away from you!
I spoke to a bunch of trekkers about what they got from their trek. What I found was that each one of them has his/her own particular favourite things about a trek. Here’s what I got.
Swathi lives in Bangalore. She rides a moped to and from work on one of the busiest streets in the city. The noise of the city, the blaring honks, the construction sounds, vehicles revving, all these drive her away into the mountains. This is why she likes trekking. She loves the silence in the hills. An added bonus is that she feels proud of herself every time she looks back to see the distance she has walked and realizes she is much fitter than she thought. Walking five hours a day with a 10 kg backpack is no mean feat, and after having done that, she feels she can face any challenge. This is what she realised on her first Himalayan trek to Deoria Tal. Besides, she is an animal lover and loves being amongst shepherds’sheep and dogs.
Latika came from Mumbai to Bangalore and she says she treks to get away from mobile network. It is like detox for her. She feels that nothing else can set her free from the invisible cage that our own technology has built around us. She feels that the fresh air, pure water and simple food in the mountains complete the detoxification for her. Having lived in a concrete jungle like Mumbai, Latika had never faced hardship and she wasn’t sure if she would survive the wilderness of her first trek in Himalayas. But after completing the trek, there was no turning back. She could see easy stepping stones, where she had seen big road blocks before. Her confidence went many notches up and she is now up for any challenge!
Komal treks to be closer to the nature and get away from the hustle bustle of the city life. She says friends made on the trek stay in touch for long. The purity of nature even influences human emotions and the friendship is unadulterated, just like the pure environs of the mountains. Before going for her Himalayan trek, she would complain about her job and difficulties. Once she conquered the Hampta Pass, she suddenly realized that there was no challenge big enough for her. She had achieved a big thing. She was ready to take up any job and it seemed like easy chore for her. Climbing a mountain has given her a confidence that no other challenge had given before.
I’d like to end with the words of John Muir, “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”
Written by Yogesh Londhe