Breaking the myth ~ Trekking is for all

When I mention I am going on a trek, the general reaction is that I am exceedingly adventurous and when I mention that it is to Sarpass or other such names suffixed by 'pass' it is also met with raised eyebrows and understood that I am some kind of a mountaineer who will soon climb the Everest!

None of the above is true. I am adventurous of course but my adventures happen right here in the city, as the funniest and most bizarre accidents and incidents seem to follow me closely around. I don't even go hunting for things to happen! Do you remember how I ended up with a ligament tear after a frail 16yr old boy traveling atop the local train decided to jump and make a demure landing on my knee? Well that was one adventurous accident that I will remember for a long time to come.

Trekking is more a tonic and a nourishment for the soul. It is the love for Nature which makes me trek and it is not as adventurous or as difficult as most people make it sound. If you are reasonably fit, not suffering from any diseases or chronic conditions that require special medical services you can do it with as much ease as any regular trekker. All you need to have is a love for walking long distances and a love for Nature. Remember that when we talk of the Himalayas, we think huge. The paths, the boulders, the forests, the pastures and the trees are all huge and you will find it considerably easier to walk along these paths. We are not discovering or charting our own course as we trek. These routes have been made by years of traveling by the villagers and previous trekkers, so it isn't as though you are alone in the wilderness and accosted by wild animals every night. There is a mild probability of some such thing happening when you trek in private groups manned by a few people but the treks I go on, are organized by the Youth Hostels Association of India. The groups contain as less as 30 people and may contain as much as 60 people. The amount of disturbance caused by such a large group is more than enough to keep wild animals at bay and the chances of getting lost is much less, unless of course you decide to turn heroic and flaunt all the rules set by the team!

If you have met people who call it 'the thing to be done', 'an adventure', 'an achievement' don't be deterred. Some people just love it to call a trek along the mountains all these things too. Yes, it is an achievement to have reached a higher camp on a personal level if you haven't done it before. But then, it is not a feat that is very difficult to perform.

If you want to make it an achievement there are ways to do so. Just make the trip a pleasant one by following these basic unwritten rules:

Do not cause disturbance to your surroundings by plucking grass, flowers and leaves when you have not use of them except chewing or smelling on them.

Always remember that even the higher areas in the mountains are dwelling places for villagers, animals and birds, and treat Nature with due respect.

Do not scatter 'non-bio degradable' waste like plastic and aluminium foils or wrappers. Littering any place in the world in unpardonable. Don't do it just because there is no one to stop you. Before your proceed on a trek please cultivate manners, love and respect for flora and fauna.

Again do not litter - I stress on this because when not noticed, even the most scrupulously clean person at home happily dirties paths simply because there is 'no law'!!

It is ridiculous and highly unacceptable to offer sweets to children along the way. Their parents are dignified citizens and do not need your offer. If you have something to offer remember to do it for a reason, with kindness and empathy. Sympathy generally creates beggars out of these little children. Always maintain grace in giving and accepting.

If you have to defecate during the walk, please find a covered spot, dig a hole. Do your job and cover it up well. I often find women littering the place with sanitary napkins. Remember to use bio-degradable sanitary napkins while on a trek. The ones that come with linings these days are not bio-degradable. Tissues, napkins and potty can all be covered up. It is not a nice sight to be met with these, especially when you are there to admire Nature.

Another dirty trend is to leave around empty plastic bottles along the trail. I generally go around picking up every wrapper, foil or non-biodegradable waste everytime I go on a trek. I also find people laughing and informing me about 'cleaning camps'. All I have to ask is - do you throw wrappers, foils, used plastic bottles and napkins at home in your living room, and wait for someone to clean up each day? Then why treat your world any differently? Why do you need law to come after you telling you to clean up? Why should cleaning camps be organized? Everytime you litter remember that you are uncouth! Try to be clean and loving towards your Nature. Littering with non-biodegradable products kills the roots of the plants and soon you will have nothing in the mountains to look forward to.

Always remember to stay close to the group. Help people if they find some difficulty and try to make good friends.

This post is all about the etiquette needed while trekking. In my next post I will talk about the trek that we actually did and the highs of coursing heights.

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