Youth Speak


Travelling has always been my passion. I always try to bring some spice to it. My endeavour is to explore new travel avenues. It started last year, with a tour to the ‘City of Vijayanagar’- more famous as Hampi. The journey of journeys then took me to a trek in Uttarakhand- a state in northern India cuddled by the Himalayas.

The last time I had been to the Himalayas was in 2004- A camp to which my parents had sent, so that I get away with my timidity. I had been longing since then to go back to the mesmerizing JPEGs that lay etched on the natures’ canvas. The plan was finalized, the tickets were booked and the bag was packed.

Though I travelled by air, it took gruelling 24 hours of travel to reach the basecamp. The trek was to start the next morning. Staring at the peaks, still digesting the fact that I was back in the Himalayas, I checked my phone for network. The phone kept searching for the network and I started searching for the essence of calmness all around me.

With the heaviest backpack weighing super 10 kgs (3 kgs more than the second heavy backpack in the group)-(which on later days felt like an extension of my body)- I had serious doubts whether I could carry it all the way to the top. But my reckless instincts boosted me to keep moving on Day1. And I learnt an important lesson, it is going to be more about the psyche than the physical capacity.

The night engraved this learning again on my mind as I went shivering in the cold to see the grandeur of the night sky. That night I saw more stars than seen even in a planetarium. The swell of the Milky Way through the skies was a terrifying scene.

With greater curiosity in mind I started the next day. It was a 10-kilometer walk, every curve printing a more majestic scene of the mountains on my memory. With the heart thumping against the chest and yet an overall calm absorbing me, I realized that I had created the most ideal environment around me to perform. The body was struggling to keep going, I had all the attention where my next step should be yet I had the calm to enjoy the struggle and to grasp the beauty around me. The 10 kilometres just went in relishing the superlative condition I had put myself into.

Fully conditioned with weight of the backpack and the terrain, the challenge for the next day was only the high altitude. The air becomes less dense with rising altitude, which leads to less amount of air being inhaled with each breath. Hence greater struggle for the body as it must work on lesser supply of oxygen. After about some 3 hours of walk, the skies became dark. I was tensed about by backpack as I had borrowed it and if that got wet………. But nature had planned another show for me. As I sat on my haunches drinking the Kumauni black tea, the feathery flakes started falling from the skies and I stared at the unfolding of the event with an awe but was quickly brought back to my senses by the trek leader speaking about the urgency to get to the next campsite as soon as possible. Another two hours of climb and we reached the campsite. Till then it was snowing intermittently. As we approached the campsite the drizzle of snowfall became heavier.  Aloof from the campsite I sat on my haunches amidst the falling snow, seeing the green canvas turn black and white. The unfolding drama struck some cord of my subconscious and my cheeks felt the warmth of the brine flowing from the tear glands. A tempest of thoughts whirlpooled through my body and I felt ecstaticity of the moment overwhelming me. The rest of the evening was spent in gathering the drizzle of emotions and the picturesque beauty of the landscape.

Drenched in the joy of the events that unfolded the previous evening, the climb to the Summit started. The sun glazed as we walked through the snow and the quicksand. Soon the weather took a U-turn to drape the landscape in the white chiffon. Again, the lesson learnt on day one came to practice. It was the time to condition the brain not to give-up even when you are not able to see anything, when your hands and feet are numb and when the breath falls short even when you are walking at a lean pace of less than 2 km/hr. All the struggle seems useless for the weather has spoilt your recipe. Still you persist, persist till the summit. Yet another bout of ecstatic feeling cuddles you. You have made it to the top‼

My vocabulary cannot convey the feelings that gripped me when for a few minutes the skies cleared and I saw the valley that lay dazzling in the white blanket. The picture attached with this blog is of the same valley I have mentioned here. Staring at the vast expanse of the landscape as the mist filled the valley, I remember one of my friends’ words “Gargi tu mand hai”. Everyone was dancing and playful and I was just staring at the valley with a grin that my cheek muscles gave for the first time in all these years.

The return journey started with an unpleasant silence that continues till day. The descend continued for the next couple of days, reiterating all the special moments that made a space in the memory during the ascend. The greatest wisdom of the descend is that you are awed by the realization about the amplitude of force with which you worked to reach the destination. It makes you realize the importance of the journey that you took and how it has metamorphosed you. This journey that made you competent to conquer the summit. It is never about what’s next, it is always about what’s today. Live your today to the fullest, the tomorrow will rise and be what it is meant to be.

Travel teaches you a lot, makes you independent and always presents a new person in you to the world. Away from the hustle of the city life travels are a doorway to satisfy your adrenaline rush and abode of umpteen opportunities to make beautiful memories. Travelling opens your horizons, where you interact with unknown people and try to find the missing pieces of the puzzle of life. Travelling makes you a storyteller!

The trek I went for was the Har ki Dun Trek. Its height being 12000 ft. Distance of the trek is 60km in 6 Days.

-Gargi Joshi

DISCLAIMER: Views expressed above are the author’s own.