Trekking Diaries Part- 1
A long term bucket list topper for me, traveling solo for the first time saw a whole new meaning when I decided to replace luxurious cities and towns with vast stretches of mountains and grass. I gave up comfortable hotel suites for rainproof tents with sleeping bags and swapped soothing spas for a 72km extensive test of fitness levels. All of this happened in the quickest of moments as soon as I came upon the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. This one is a 72km trekking expedition commencing from 7,800 feet, going up to the highest point at 13,750 feet and down to 7,450 feet. It was indeed a terrifying change in plans considering I had never traveled single before, let alone surviving 8 long days in adverse conditions with a complete bunch of strangers, absolutely no outside communication and no sight of civilization.
I still remember the day I arrived in Srinagar and my anxiety when I noticed that my assigned trekking group was an all-boys group. I didn’t know whether to feel protected or inhibited. However, as hours went by and the uneasiness settled within I realized the only way I was going to overcome these fears was if I channelized my feelings towards exploring the vast expanse of natural beauty before my eyes.
The first two days was essentially a beginner’s struggle, right from pitching a tent to awkwardly accepting the mud pit as the closest you could get to luxury. The first 9km stretch covered over 5-6 hours through sunshine, rain and cold was a true test of endurance and will power. And funny as it may seem, after a day full of self-doubt and self-struggle, settling down even to strange faces and strange voices filled in a sense of reassurance and accomplishment.
The third day was the longest and the hardest, but it was also the turning point of my experience. For an amateur trekker. Climbing 13,750 feet was no joke and the sheer effort brought out the worst in me, mentally and physically. But I couldn’t give up on the magnificent landscape surrounding me. Every thought I had of retreating was countered by the thought of the entire splendor I would miss if I didn’t get up there. At this point, I realized that my weaknesses and strengths were at war with each other and instead of just relying on self-motivation I looked to fellow trekkers for inspiration.
Each of us was on our own solo adventures, but we shared a common need to challenge ourselves, and here we were unknowingly comforting each other through the journey. The rest of the adventure was truly heartening, an eye opener and a much needed self-adapting experience.
All in all, you need to be a little patient as your outdoor instincts get stronger and the journey tolerable, proportionating to the serenity and jaw-dropping scenes around. That’s my two cents advise to the fellow trekker out there.