Today I can proudly introduce myself as a trekker besides being a home maker, a mom & a businesswoman.
Not so long ago, I was a restless soul. I did all the chores that I believed I needed to do very meticulously. But at the end of the day, I would still feel there was something missing. A chance meeting with my friend Tejal changed all that. She mentioned they were going on a trek, and I was intrigued. I felt a need to do something which I had never experienced before. I booked myself on my first trek to Sandakphu (to those uninitiated like I was, this is a mountain peak in the Singalila Ridge on the border between India and Nepal).
The experience of buying trek gear was so new and refreshing. I had not travelled alone without family. Fear was the first emotion I felt on the first day of my trek. Trekking in the Himalayan terrain is not a piece of cake. You are not in your comfort zone. There are no luxuries of your bedroom, and the environmental conditions are not friendly either. Food, sleep and even the air is compromised. It tires you and you start questioning yourself about why you stepped out in the first place, it would be so easy to slip and fall to one’s death, despite the presence of trained guides and an experienced, trek leader, Ankit – all of 20-something, with you.
But the beautiful surroundings, the pristine mountains, the bonding with one’s co-trekkers (age and gender difference actually melts away right in front of your eyes) energises you to carry on for yet another day, till we all achieve the common goal. The summit day finally comes after all the perseverance, bringing with it sheer joy, washing away all doubts, and leaving you basking in the warmth of self-worth.
While Sandakphu was a spiritual journey to the Sleeping Buddha, bringing nature and culture together, those that followed, be it to Hampta, Himachal’s Valley of Flowers, or the Chaddar trek on the frozen Zanskar river, or the trek to the Great Lakes in the heart of Kashmir, and the Tarsar Marsar trek have been some truly memorable ones.
Initially, I started trekking to release the restless and monotony. Trekking needs patience and stamina to reach to the top of the mountain. But once you begin your journey, with each step of your climbing, you discover a secret power inside which has been hidden so long. Call it confidence or inner strength. Each trek has its own beauty, challenges and unique experiences.
Sandakphu, our first trek near the Indo-Nepal border had beautiful rhododendrons dotting the way, with scenes of sky touching snow covered mountains. We were never sure whether we are walking in India or Nepal. We walked across the border and entered Nepal, only to return to India at the next twist in the trail. How do I know? Well, not then I confess, it was my mobile bill upon my return that gave it away!
Hampta Circle offered an amazing view of the Dhauldar and Pir Panjal range, with lush alpine forests and beautiful meadows. On this trek, we were just a group of 3 women coming from different places – Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai – between the ages of 25 and 50. However, the difference in our ages and cultures hardly proved to be a barrier. There was complete harmony and understanding between us. I recorded an amazing video then – with one of them singing, the other doing yoga – with the mountain as a backdrop and a white horse, who we laughingly dubbed as our unicorn. I doubt such memorable moments can be experienced in city life.
Chaddar Trek is the most unique, glamorous experience, walking on the frozen river, and at times walking alongside the flowing turquoise river in unbearable weather conditions – it is my all-time favourite, an unforgettable experience. It was like we were inside a freezer. We had to master the technique of walking over the ice – with a penguin-like stance, so as not to slip and fall. When I used to wake up in the mornings, I would find ice frozen on my hair and on the tip of my nose. After waking up, my hands and feet used to go totally numb. The only therapy there was to walk and walk fast till our feet responded again. Even going for one’s daily ablutions was a daunting task. But it had to be done! Clenching my teeth, I would hold my trekking pole and make my way toward the makeshift toilets. After a couple of days, we started to understand the place and terrain better. The sound of the flowing river underneath our feet was like music to one’s ears. Each day came as a surprise, as we crossed frozen ice slides, waterfalls and caves on the way. There were moments when we were cursing ourselves for having undertaken this tortuous journey. However, all these thoughts melted away as we reached our finish point. Evenings and nights were made memorable by our trek mates and trek leader.
The Great Lakes trek has actually been the most demanding – both physically and mentally. On the first day of the trek, it poured. We were not prepared for it. The climb was difficult and before going to bed, my trek leader suggested that I should start before the others, since I am slow and we had to cover long distance. I mentally prepared myself and went to sleep. The next day I woke up earlier than the others. As I prepared to dress myself for the day ahead, I realised that half of my clothes in the backpack were wet due to the rains. I felt so stupid. I mentally kicked myself for not packing properly. It was only Day 2 of the trek and there were 7 more days to go. I decided to not go further. The feeling of saying No was very heavy on me, but my logical mind told me that it was not wise to go further. The only solace was that 5 other trek mates too decided to discontinue.
Every day since, there was a tussle in my mind – did I give up easily or was I wise to do so. I started working out regularly. Then came the Tarsar Marsar trek, and this time I invited my husband, Dipesh to join me. His presence gave me the much-needed support and I was able to get my confidence back.
Trekking has taught me many life lessons as well – I find myself better prepared to handle whatever life throws at me, and that while hurdles may come, these can be overcome with grit and determination. At first, there may appear be no way around them, but then my inner voice tells me, “Ami, ainthi javaase” (Ami, you can make it through this).
The call of the mountains is so strong and sitting in their laps fills one with a sense of peace and tranquillity. May the Mountain Gods be with you!!
About: Ms. Ami Nayak,
Ami Nayak is a multi-tasker – a mom, a businesswoman and a home-maker. She heads the Accounts team at the Interior Contractor firm that she runs with her spouse. In her free time, she enjoys watching movies, reading and listening to music. She loves visiting new destinations and imbibing the culture there. She is a fitness enthusiast and participates in marathons and goes on treks.
She can be reached on : firstname.lastname@example.org
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