In September 2016, when one of my close friends had asked me to accompany him to a high-altitude mountain trek, I laughed it off at once. It was only after he became persistent that I finally gave in to going on a winter trek in January 2017.
In the beginning, even the idea of a mountain trek was ridiculous. And I know for a fact that it's the same for most people. But all my apprehensions were put to rest for good when I finally did go on my first trek to Brahmatal. It helped me shun my inhibitions and moved me closer to God.
A human being is innately resistant to change, but change is the only constant in nature. If, for just one upcoming weekend, you change your plan from going on a mundane outstation trip to a mountain trek, it can alter your life forever. And the irony is, trekking is a lot better than those trips in multiple respects. I jot down eight of them below:
1. The views are breathtaking
You drive down to any hill station in the northern belt; all of them are more or less the same. There is a main square ("Mall Road" in Manali and Mussoorie) where all restaurants are cramped together with expensive pigeonhole-sized hotels all around and similar contrived places to see. You will only get to see better views and the feeling of being in the hills when you go the extra mile. On a trek, you go many a mile further up and hence the views are unprecedented, just like the one featured above. It's from the majestic Annapurna Trek.
2. You come back fitter, not fatter
Unlike on our usual vacations, you actually come back a lot fitter from a trek.
What do you do if you go to Shimla from Delhi? You sit in a car/bus/train, reach Shimla, check into a hotel and eat, sleep half the day off, wake up only to go out and eat some more. That's what happens with most of us. But on a trek, the time-table is a lot different. You trek through forests or snow everyday, where the terrain is alien, but friendly. The air is pure and you can pluck and eat food off of trees right there. Even the water in the streams is so drinkable. If you do all this for a handful of days, why won't you become fitter? If you wish to give it a shot, you can do an easy but beautiful trek next month, to Parashar Lake!
3. You learn to survive on the minimal
Although not many people would like to hear this, but the resources are limited up there. You have only a tent to sleep in, make-do but hygienic washrooms, and the food is basic. Luxury is not a priority on a trek. But is that not the best part about it too? Living in such an environment makes us stronger since you are clearly out of your comfort zones, literally and metaphorically. When you've been on a trek, you know that you can survive anywhere come what may.
4. You don't spend at all
There are no expensive restaurants to splurge on. There are no luxury hotels to sleep in. And hence there is no materialism to indulge in. When I had gone for the Brahmatal Trek, I had started on day one with a 1000-rupee note in my wallet. When I came back down on the fifth day, my wallet still had the same note intact. I could not spend a single rupee for five days. I was richer, emotionally and monetarily.
5. You make new friends, for life
You tread difficult paths at high altitudes, and you do it for several days at a stretch. You spend your entire time with the same set of people day in & day out. You mingle with them, you put your faith in them to help you out in case of adversities. They do the same. On high altitude treks, you don't just make friends who you will drinks with once or twice; you make friends for life.
6. You sleep in a million-star hotel
Not one, not two, but a million-star hotel. And guess what, it comes very cheap. While living in your respective metropolises, you hardly ever get to witness stars in the night sky, thanks to the incredible amounts of pollution. The clouds are full of smoke and the air is poisonous. But on high altitudes in the mountains, everything is still pristine. In the night sky, you see entire constellations and that too at HD clarity. The featured long-exposure picture above was actually clicked along the Bhrigu Lake trek, so you know what I'm talking about.
7. You become limitless
When was the last time you felt really proud of achieving something? Not professionally, but personally. If you can think of an answer immediately, then you lead an awesome life. But if, like me, you also can't think of anything at all from your recent past, it's time to be proud of something. Go for a trek! You push your limits so often throughout that you become limitless. Once you reach the pinnacle of a trek, you also reach the pinnacle of your confidence and a great sense of achievement entails it. You can take pride in it; an unsurmountable amount of pride. The featured picture is from the pinnacle of the gorgeous Deoriatal-Chandrashila trek.
8. You actually take a break from routine
This is something that everyone knows, but very few like to talk about. Thanks to the all-encompassing social media and great transportation network, all hill stations are extremely crowded irrespective of season or off-season. Wherever you go; whether it's McLeod Ganj, Shimla, Ooty, Kasol, or anywhere else, there are always hordes of people already partying there. The shops sell the same things, the roads are jammed, capitalism is everywhere. So, in these times, do you really take a break when you go to a hill station? I guess not.
However, this is not the case on mountain treks. You barely even witness animals along the high-altitudes, let alone humans. Now THAT is something which deserves to be called a "break", not a weekend drive to a popular hill station. The sublime view in the featured image is from the Goechala trek.
Stop procrastinating, stop making excuses. Just book a trek to the Himalayas and think later. You can start by doing an easy trek. I assure you, it'll change your life for the better.
If you've already been on a trek, do share your experience on Tripoto to let 25 million other community members know that it's a life-altering experience.
Written in association with Indiahikes.