People have often asked me why I choose to trek. Why would anyone voluntarily walk uphill for hours on narrow trails barely carved into steep mountain faces – with lungs exploding, skin turning into rough sandpaper, and muscles reducing to mush? “How is this fun for you?”, they ask. It’s a valid point. A painful reminder especially during struggles on near-vertical, rocky patches, heading towards a pass I’m convinced just doesn’t exist.
My last trek was the breathtaking Pin-Bhabha Pass the previous year. Perhaps it was the sheer magnitude of the trek – its unbelievable beauty and the limits to which it challenges you physically and mentally – that got me musing on why I keep going back. The mountains, of course, are beautiful – but I truly feel each of us returns for our own reasons; a deeper, more personal connect that only reveals itself with every visit. As I pen this pictorial ode to Pin-Bhabha, it’s also shaping up to become an attempt at understanding my own relationship with the mountains.
As I scrolled through the pictures on my phone, sipping some much-needed coffee in the lovely Tara Guest House at Mudh, the phone’s cover suddenly caught my eye. It contains a picture of an awkward ogre dressed in a skirt, poised to pirouette like a ballerina. I remember laughing when I’d first spotted it and then buying it immediately, because it so accurately depicted my perennial state of being – always a little out of it, never quite fitting in perfectly anywhere, but still attempting to dance along.
I could’ve never imagined finding my own rhythm, but I did when I discovered trekking. I am a more trusting, empathetic, and open person when I trek; naturally inclined to conversation, completely hopeful of deeper, human connections. In this caffeinated world of my own making, I usually swing between looking for too much meaning or finding none. The mountains help shed some of this self-inflicted ennui, allowing me the indescribable freedom of not taking everything so seriously. At the same time, I tend to discover meaning and perspective without even looking for them. It’s also rare to feel like you can achieve anything, but a trek makes me feel that way every single time!What remains constant through each one is a fascination for the world, the larger picture, and my place in all of it.
After all is said and done, the question, therefore, isn’t why I trek but why in the world I don’t do it everyday!
So, why is it that you trek?
Images captured by me, as well as Bharat Malhotra and Bhaskar Bharti – my wonderful trekking buddies. We travelled to Pin Bhabha with Spiti Holiday Adventures in August 2016