Trekkers have many expectations when they sign up for a trek. Camping with friends, birthday celebrations, meeting new people, break from their routine, seeking adventure, adrenaline rush, first snowfall, photography, or just for the love of outdoors. Such special moments become a beautiful memory in life. Here are a few such moments that I made while leading treks in the #Himalayas and want you to experience them when you are on a trek too.
1. Ever done a Rolley Polley?
Letting the childish self of yourselves explore the mountains is the best way of enjoying a trek, provided you are extra careful about your safety always. This activity will be one memory that will make you smile every time you watch or think about it. Although it can be a bit risky and sometimes you can end up bruising yourselves. It is always best to do it in a bhugyal where you have checked the surface for rocks or anything that can hurt you. Also, it is better that you don't get too carried away whilst enjoying this.
Here is a video of me doing Rolley Polley at Ali Bhugyal from #Roopkund trek in Uttarakhand.
This was during my early days of trek leading. This is at a Dhaba at the Ali Bhugyal patch. Ali and Bedni bhugyal are considered to be one of the biggest meadow ranges in Asia. These meadows have a stunning landscape of big mountains in the background and have the beautiful tree line paving your way to present you these vast grazing lands. I have been here during the pre-monsoon season and post-monsoon season but I always wanted to be there during the winters.
This video reminds me of how grand these meadows are a part of the entire trek. Roopkund for me is a whole package of surprises which makes you feel that could this trek be any less breathtaking? But after each day of the trek, it only gets better.
Click here to know more about what this trek has to offer.
2. Celebrate an Occasion
Back in school, celebrating a birthday was a very special thing. Having your classmates cheer and sing for you, the new dress, the cake, the fights for the candies, birthday party after school and of course the gifts. But after a certain age, this seems to be childish. Believe me, I felt the same until I spent my birthday at #Kedarkantha.
I was physically exhausted due to the cold and an injury in my toes during the winters. All I wished for my birthday was a hot shower and a warm room with nice food. But unfortunately, I had to lead a batch due to a last-minute mix-up and I had to lead a batch as my fourth trip to Kedarkantha. But I now realized that my birthday could not have gone any better than up in the mountains. Yes! I had a #Pahadi style birthday in the mountains.
I have seen trekkers celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, and once even an engagement. In spite of the cold weather, the body aches, 5 winter layers on top, such moments stay in the heart.
Here are a few cakes made at the different treks that I lead by my kitchen staff at altitudes where even water is hard to fetch...
Such a gesture by the mountain staff also brings us to tears. It might not be the best perfect cake but the efforts and love of these people bring out the best flavor to the cake which I don't think anyone can buy it from any shop.
3. Have you seen the mountains upside down?
Do you know how to do a Headstand? I learned it at #BuranGhati trek in Himachal Pradesh.
It was during the post-monsoon season on my second trip to Buran Ghati. We had a #Yoga teacher in the group. He was kind enough to share a few tips and pointers about Yoga. Learning Yoga was a to-do thing on my list. But at 14000ft? Nope. That was not something that I had planned. Fortunately, I found it even more rejuvenating when I learned a tiny bit of it at the campsite.
It was surprisingly not very cold during the early October season. But I can't imagine at such altitude doing Yoga would make sense. However, it was an experience of my life because I have been many times to the #Himalayas and I have never had the opportunity to look at the mountains upside down.
The view of the gigantic mountains is no less even when you look at it upside down. I think the blood rush that you get in your head gives you that kick and probably the best sight of the mountains after you get back on your feet.
This might not be the right activity for high altitude treks but if you practice Yoga or have someone along with you during your trek who does, then don't miss the chance to get up early and try it. Doing Yoga before treks as a preparation for the trek is one of the ways to have a smooth trek experience.
4. Star Gazing
Living in the cities, most of us are missing one magical thing in our day to day life. Amidst the chaos and the pollution, the sky that we get to look at doesn't seem the way it is in the mountains. Especially at night when millions of stars light the sky in the mountains, you feel that the night should never end and the stars should never fade away.
However good a picture can be, it just can't give you the exact feel of standing beneath this ocean of stars and understand how tiny we are. This is the biggest takeaway from the mountains for me. No matter how rich or powerful you become, once you step in front of these majestic peaks, it shows that nothing has changed and you are still the same and equal like anyone else. The display of stars at night adds to this fact.
The first time I stood under these bubble of stars, it felt as if I was floating with no wings. The stars kept calling out to me. I had never seen so many stars in one sight. All I did was take my sleeping bag out of my tent, got comfortable, and took my time to observe and capture that sight in my mind. After that one night, looking at constellations, stardust, the galaxy, and even a falling star would make it worth any efforts put during the day for me. Letting myself sink into the sky makes me wonder about the infinite galaxies and the vast universe where we exist.
If you have never had this feeling or if you never thought that such a thing exists, I think #stargazing should be the first experience that would make you speechless.
Before heading to a trek, make sure you have a night sky application on your smartphones to get a better identification of the constellation, their stories, and facts. I use Skyview since it is free and fairly good and accurate with the detection.
5. Dance on a Pahadi Folk song
I would be the last person on a trek to do this. But somehow the experiences that I have had so far living with the mountain staff, I have noticed that they have a very unique way of expressing their joy. Unlike the people in the cities, they don't think twice before expressing their happiness by dancing or singing. Remember, I said that you have to let the childish side of your heart to enjoy and express its joy when it comes to the mountains. The people living in the mountains especially love hospitality. They make sure that people like us who have traveled so far to reach their home are heading back with memories and love. I would say the least you can do is express your gratitude to them by dancing.
This is a story of how I went to a mountain wedding and what I learned there about the people...
It was in Sankri in the winter of one year. I was resting at our homestay and one of our kitchen staff had his wedding ceremony in the village. We decided we would head there and meet our staff. Along with my other friends, I hiked down where the ceremony was taking place. It was a small village named Saud with less than 40 houses. I was assuming it would be a small event where a few people would have been gathered and we would have some dinner and head back. To my surprise, there were around a hundred people and more people from the neighboring villages were also walking towards his place. Now, Sankri is a remote village where the basic facilities like electricity and network are not available. And there I was standing amidst a crowd with colorful lights and huge speakers and generators for the backup supply of electricity.
I kept wondering why people never thought of using generators at their houses and for this occasion, they had brought it from 100km far town. I asked one of my staff the same question and he said, "We can only express our joy by dancing".
Here is a different video that was taken on my birthday at Kedarkantha.
I don't know how to dance but when I see the mountain people enjoy small things so much, I feel left out. I learned later that these small moments stay longer with us.
Going for a trek is not just about the 5-6 days of camping experience with friends, pictures for your social media page, or about having a break. You should also try to learn small things and appreciate them. You can try any of these 5 experiences and share your story with your friends and everyone. These will help you have a more memorable experience altogether.
These are the few small things that personally give me a sense of happiness during my treks. If you have any of your personal experiences that you would like me to try at my next trek, I would love to do so. Drop that as a comment and let me come up with my story for you soon...