Three people from different walks of life talk about their most thrilling and memorable hill and mountain treks
Co-founder, Go Sports Foundation
Trekking is something I got interested in about a decade ago. Not many people are aware of it but there are some fantastic hiking and trekking trails in and around Bangalore. There are several one or two-day treks about 100 km off Bangalore.
I never trek alone and go with my friends. One of our most memorable treks was from Chikmaglur to Kalahatti Falls. It was a trek bordering on stupidity because it was unchartered territory. It’s not something which I would recommend to amateur trekkers. Everything went wrong from the outset. It was raining heavily, we were literally walking in the clouds and relied on a basic GPS which did not have a battery cover. Six of us who had gone there and even though it was difficult, we had a great time completing the trek. It was like being in the wild — we spotted a few leopard pugmarks — and the rain didn’t help the matters. We were supposed to reach the falls and then descend towards a coffee estate. As we were about to reach the coffee estate, the GPS conked out and we were in no-man’s land. We literally had to be rescued by a friend whom we called. It took us an entire day to complete the trek during which we had many beautiful and difficult experiences — streams, difficult trails, the GPS and leeches all over. When we reached we were, thanks to the rain, covered in mud and blood.
I have done quite a few other treks in Karnataka but never ventured out in the North much. I would love to travel to the Himalayas which have some picturesque trails. Uttarakhand is one place I would love to trek. My brother and parents have done a few treks there but I haven’t had the chance.
My advice to trekkers would be to be aware of their fitness levels. Just because you run 10 km on a treadmill doesn’t mean you will be able to trek in the hills. It does sound somewhat pompous but the serenity of such trails and beauty just keep you going. Going on a trek is always a challenging task, not only physically but also mentally. You need to prepare well. I won’t recommend impromptu treks, at least not for those who aren’t into trekking. It’s like travelling in the unknown!
Also choose the right time to do the trek. Never overpack. Once I took an enthusiastic bunch who carried tents, stove, food items. Half of them were dead tired even before we reached halfway. So plan well.
Musician and head of Blue Frog
Trekking presents challenges like no other. When in the hills, you don’t know what you might encounter and it is a great test for your mental and physical strength. Trekking in the mountains can be one of the most enlightening experiences of one’s life. It’s where one gets to see a totally different side of one’s own personality. One of my most memorable treks was in the Sahyadri hills in 2008 where I had gone alone with just my guitar. I always carry my guitar when I go on treks. This time I had gone to Gorakhgad, which is a lovely trek near Murbad (about 200 kms away from Mumbai). The place was beautiful with some really difficult hiking points as well as some breathtaking landscapes.
I always carry my trekking gear and make sure that I don’t overpack. While on this trek to Gorakhgad, I was away for three days and the trek was two-day long. It rained one day so the trek became even more arduous. But that’s the fun of trekking. You just don’t know what you might run into. Thankfully, the Sahyadris are a safe trekking destination and at the same time quite strenuous.
I usually head off to hills before I have to compose music for an album or even for a commercial. It gives me time to think. In college, I and my friends were regular trekkers and would head off to places in Himachal as well. There are some excellent treks in the Parvati Valley. But of late, I haven’t had the time to go anywhere. Blue Frog keeps me busy as well as my other music assigments. Though I am not complaining, it would be good to head off to the hills, once every three months.
One trek which I would love to do is to Mansarovar. I have heard that it’s the ultimate for any trekker. When it happens, I am not sure but hopefully I would be able to complete it.
I am predominantly a biker but quite often, on our biking sojourns with the Mocha Club, we land up at places which have some fantastic trekking trails. So I trek but with the intention of exploring the area rather than to experience the thrill of adventure sports. We often bike on the Mumbai-Pune expressway and on the way to Lonavla, there are some picturesque treks. Matheran is another place which is good for treks.
But my favourite trek was the Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan. It is one of the most picturesque treks in the world. We — a big group of friends — had flown to Bhutan, encountering some lovely little temples and monastries on the way. The terrain is a bit tricky but that’s what makes trekking fun. It’s not like any other hilly trek in the wilderness and you meet very interesting local people who often act as guides.
If we do plan a trek in advance, then we make sure that there’s stuff to handle emergencies. Travel light, carry enough water and make sure your shoes are comfortable enough. That’s what I ensure before heading out on a trek. Where would I love to go? On June 15, we are heading off on a biking trip to Ladakh again and I am sure we will go on some exciting treks. I have been there earlier but this time it’s a big group and we intend to make it a memorable trip. Once a year I do plan a long trip and there are places where bikes don’t reach. So without any intention of treking I ending up doing them and have a lot of fun.