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For adventure lovers: have a great trek!
Sangeeta Singh |
June 06, 2005
ick of the summer heat and don't want to go to a hill station?
If you ask me, Shimla, Nainital, Manali, Matheran or Ooty are overrated. You may not get accommodation; there may be water shortages; the roads are crowded and you may bunp into your most avoidable colleague or neighbour or relative as everyone is headed to these places.
How about trekking?
In north India, there are lots of places to trek, like Talang Pass, Pindari Glaciers or Phoolon ki Ghati (Valley of Flowers).
And if you are a first-timer and don't want to do a long trek, you can do a smaller one from Joshimath towards Badrinath in Uttaranchal.
But whatever route you take, it is always advisable to go through a tour operator and to go in a group. The more the merrier -- a group of 10 people is just right.
There are certain essentials that you need to pack from home:
1. No fancy suitcases or trolleys please. If you don't have a biggish rucksack, buy one immediately.
Sometimes tour operators provide them at the base camp. But you will have to empty your luggage and put everything in the bagpack, which is quite a bother.
2. Track bottoms and stretch jeans are recommended, and cotton T-shirts.
3. Don't overload your bag with clothes. You will need to keep a raincoat (take the lightest one), a windcheater, an umbrella, a cap and light sweaters.
4. Don't pack thick sweaters or coats even if there is snow, because you will be walking and won't feel cold.
The windcheater will take care of the rest.
5. A torch, waterbottle, essential medicines, cameras/ handycam, gloves, socks and jogging/ trekking shoes are a must.
6. Don't go overboard with high ankle shoes or boots.
They are not required under Indian conditions. It is not advisable to carry food from home because you will find meals at regular intervals.
7. Gadgets like mobiles, Walkman/ Discman, etc, are best avoided because you should enjoy nature and cut yourself off from civilisation. Chances are you will not be able to use them after a certain point anyway.
It is also not advisable to get overambitious about your trek. If mules are available, your group should share one or two to keep your rucksacks. On some treks like Pindari, porters are also available.
If you are trekking uphill, it is better that you don't walk more than 5 to 6 kilometres a day if you want to enjoy your trek.
Don't presume you will be able to do 12 kilometres when you are going downhill. There is considerable pressure on the knees, so it is better to restrict yourself to 8 to 9 kilometres a day.
However, starting early is an absolute must. Get up at 6 am and start trekking by 7.30 am after breakfast.
Don't avoid breakfast -- you will need all the energy you can get.
Some people carry soaked Bengal grams and jaggery to keep themselves going. Drinking water from the streams (you will run into a number of them), is perfectly fine; they come straight from the glaciers.
But should avoid wild berries, herbs etc, as some are poisonous.
Stepping on frosted (non-moving) glacial chunks can prove slippery. It is advisable to hold hands or hold on to a rock before crossing them.
Try not to trek after sunset. That is when wild animals come out. It is best to have a bonfire and an early dinner. You can indulge in non-vegetarian food and desserts when walking in the hills, for you burn a lot of calories.
To enjoy yourself, spread your trekking days in such a way so as not to be too rushed. For instance, a 36-kilometre trek should be done in six days (this should include just the trek and not the time taken to reach the base camp), and 90-kilometre trek in 10 days.
Tour operators sometimes suggest very rushed trips, so it is always better to give them your specifications. Have a nice trip!