There will be two moments which will remain with me forever- the conflicted confidence while trekking from Langza to Komic in Spiti, Himachal Pradesh and the incredible sunrise at Sandakphu, North Bengal. Somehow, even though the experiences are in two different locations, they seem like a continuance to each other.

In Spiti, I was trekking at 15,500 feet and there were stretches of the barren terrain with sharp edges. And no sooner I felt discouraged, the flat pebbled path welcomed my respite. After Hikkim, I was visibly tired, thanks to the excessive weight on my back. I wanted my plight to end while questioning what brought me here. After a few kilometres, Komic was within sight and I found hope again.

Where else would I rather be?
Where else would I rather be?

Spiti was not a strenuous terrain, though for me, it was a challenging experience because I was evaluating myself as a first-time trekker. But the outcome of the trek was rather unexpected and delayed. In a few months, I found myself wanting to go back to the mountains. Trekking to Komic was like a breath of fresh air in my life as if the wind swept through my mind and taught me endurance. It is the one quality key to existence and survival because it is the delicate balance of endurance and letting go which helps us move on in life, which makes us a better person and which allows us to grow one with nature.

And even though I don’t forget my lessons quickly, Sandakphu posed a new challenge for me; one where I had my insights from the first trek but keeping my mind open to possibilities of other mistakes. It is remarkable the amount of learning we have to constantly habituate ourselves to for a better life. Sandakphu showed me how these habits miraculously transform themselves as rewards.

Perseverance doesn't come easy.
Perseverance doesn’t come easy.

That foggy evening had begun with a promising morning. The 93-kilometre Sandakphu trek amalgamates some of the most scenic views across terrains. A bright Kanchenjunga lit morning towards the curvaceous Gairibas and intriguing flat walk to Kalapokhri seemed like a perfect cheer. However, it was only after Bikhey Bhajan that the clouds came down to land as I ascended and they started shaking my confidence. The last three kilometres to Sandakphu had taken the life out of me or perhaps I assumed that they soon would. Even though my constant chants of motivation had gone unheard many times, I persisted. I had baggage from my previous trek that I couldn’t let go off. And so I climbed. At the very last stretch after unlimited, unforeseen turns, I sat with the silence of my mind trying to keep going. The only reason why I did was because getting stuck in the moment wasn’t a feasible idea. In the next 10 minutes, I got a glimpse of Kanchenjunga against a blue sky backdrop. Could it be true? Suddenly, I was enthused with unbelievable energy and ran up. And there it was, the magnificence in front of me, with the clouds steady below in the valley and the blue skies speaking with me. Surprisingly, it is in moments like these that I totally escape myself. I give in to all; to the winds, to the skies, to the mountains, to being.

Climbed all of that and beyond.
Climbed all of that and beyond.

The next morning when I climbed a small hill to get to the vantage point for the sunrise, I wasn’t ready to be overthrown by it yet. Remarkable as the changing colours of the mountain range were as the sun rose, the visual of the rising teardrop sun from above the bed of clouds lying undisturbed has been etched in my memory. After a few minutes, I wondered if I would’ve been blessed with anything as surreal as the view if I didn’t experience the tenacity the day before. Sandakphu had taught me to be kind to myself by showing me the power of rewards. I realised, every time I had allowed myself the benefit of doubt, I could go on a little longer.

Always look back and see where we came from.
Always look back and see where we came from.

As individuals, we can constantly question our capabilities. When thrown in situations like trekking in silence, it is easier to surrender to those weaknesses. But what allows us to keep moving forward is what matters the most. And the mountains have their own language of teaching this to us. My love for walking up in these terrains have taught me that it is our sense of detachment from all that we hold dear, which allows us to stay alive and grow. And that this life is highly underrated. It escapes us till we actually live in the moment.

What have the mountains taught you?

Amrita Das

I have been a travel and culture independent journalist. My bylines have appeared in many publications worldwide including National Geographic Traveller India, Lonely Planet Magazine India, The Indian Express and World Travel Magazine. A fellow of Media Ambassadors India-Germany 2019 program by Robert Bosch Stiftung and Centre for Media Competence, University of Tübingen. Currently, I am the photo editor for RoundGlass Sustain, a wildlife and conservation e-publication. I live in India.

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15 thoughts on “How Trekking Redefined My Life”

  1. Nice post, amrita. you have put together thoughts in a beautiful way, I can so understand them, even though trekking isnt for me. thanks to an old ankle injury, i cant walk for long before the ankles start swelling up. it does restrict how much i walk, but it doesnt restrict me from exploring what i can, and pushing myself to my limits. but thats one of the reasons i love reading posts by trekkers, including you :D and enjoy the experiences through you all…

    1. How unfortunate Anu! But honestly, even people without injuries don’t feel the same way about walking or trekking. I’m glad to be sharing stories with those who do, like you :)

    1. Thanksm Christine. It’s always a conflict within. But whenever I look back, it’s always life changing :)

  2. Mountains said maybe: visit again.
    That is what I learn by heart and I visit again & again.

    I have yet to visit Spiti and Ladakh but whenever I read post about it I believe one day I will visit too. Those who visited are an inspiration. Thank you.

  3. It’s always fun to travel alone……to get immersed and experience everything a place offers selfishly to yourself:J and I think trekking served you well all the fun and excitement. The pictures are taken with great and enormous appreciativeness to a raised degree of flawlessness. I enjoyed reading your post!! Good job!

    1. Thanks Cyrus. Trekking is therapeutic for me. I’m glad you liked reading the post :)

  4. We love the nuance that you capture in a visit. Seeing the ‘yayavar’ in you, I remember a poem by Agyeya after reading this description. Coincidently it was written by him is Shillong:
    पार्श्व गिरि का नम्र, चीड़ों में
    डगर चढ़ती उमंगों-सी।
    बिछी पैरों में नदी ज्यों दर्द की रेखा।
    विहग-शिशु मौन नीड़ों में।

    मैं ने आँख भर देखा।
    दिया मन को दिलासा-पुन: आऊँगा।
    (भले ही बरस-दिन-अनगिन युगों के बाद!)
    क्षितिज ने पलक-सी खोली,

    तमक कर दामिनी बोली-
    ‘अरे यायावर! रहेगा याद?’

    माफ्लङ् (शिलङ्), 22 सितम्बर, 1947

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