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Trekking, an extreme sport

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By Paras Ali
Tue, 03, 21

Pollution free air to breathe and lots of time to connect with nature and explore your inner self....

wanderlust

People ask me, “Why do you go for difficult treks when you can conveniently enjoy the nature by visiting some breath-taking destinations by road?”

Well, there is no answer to this question. Being a citizen of a highly populated city, we spend almost half of our lives in vehicles, hustle bustle of crowd, breathing hazardous smoke daily. I find peace in wild places, forests, mountains and isolated valleys, where there are no roads but mule tracks, natural food and fresh water streams, no signal zone, pollution free air to breathe and lots of time to connect with nature and explore your inner self.

The beginning is always gloomy and doubtful, people do not digest unusual things easily. Even my family was against it. A housewife and mother of four kids doing treks was a hard thing to believe but I had the support of my hubby, my partner in crime.

Trekking changed my life, my way of thinking. When you are close to nature, your worldly stress and tensions are released, you realise that your tensions are not worth any attention. Nature heals your soul and refreshes your brain. Vacations should be an integral part of every human being’s life.

When you go for longer treks, patience is always the key. How would you feel when you wake up in the middle of a valley surrounded by giant mountains and cold breeze in a tent? How would you feel when you don’t get to use a proper bathroom? You don’t have your bed, sofa, comfort, luxuries etc. Porters cook food for you, you have to eat it despite it being good or bad because you really don’t have any other options. And the most relaxing quality is that treks are no signal area and mobile phones are used mostly just to take pictures.

Some experiences are forever memorable. One of them was back in 2018 at our Lupgar Pir Pass Trek. We usually choose unexplored treks so that the direction and the trek difficulties remain a mystery. The sixth day of our trek was the last. We were happy because we had successfully done a pass of 5193m., we were missing our homes and families, constantly talking about them. The trek was deadly. At some points we feared to fall into the river from a height but we had a team of guides and porters to help us with the difficult pathways. It was afternoon, we took a short break in the middle of nowhere, porters took out the stove, took some water from a glacial stream and made some noodles for us, we were already tired; we had been walking for the last 7 hours, but we had to keep moving. It was a thin mule track where one person could put one foot at a time. The guide asked me to move forward so that the remaining team could move in a line. I kept walking a bit fast without looking back, but after some time I stopped for a break to breathe and realised that no one was behind me. I sat there on a rock waiting for the team, but nobody showed up. I saw a few porters ahead and it was a huge relief. I joined them and we spent some time talking and waiting for others. The sun was near to setting, porters asked me to go with them because they didn’t agree to leave me alone. I was reluctant and requested them to wait for the remaining team there, but they said that it was already late and we had to reach the campsite. It would’ve been hard to trek in the dark since we were carrying luggage. I was indecisive – should I wait for my team or should I move on. And it was a risk to sit in this darkness alone surrounded by giant mountains? What if some kind of a wild animal showed up? It was better to be with someone than to be alone so I kept walking with them. Two of them went away fast, I kept walking with one of them slowly.

Paras, mother of 4 kids, stepped into nature to explore the beauty and felt the connection with the mountains, a few years ago, started with small hikes and gradually to long expedition. She explored Rush Lake Trek followed by Lupgar La in 2017 and 2018 respectively. She was the first female trekker to step on Yokshgoz Pass in 2019. She can be contacted at paras_ali@hotmail.com      

I was concerned about the safety of my team too. Hundreds of questions crossed my mind. What if someone slipped? What if someone was sick with height? What if they had an accident? Every time this thought crossed my mind, my heart skipped a beat. It was pitch dark in no time, so we took out our torches. Mine didn’t work. We only had one head torch. I took out my phone for flashlight but it was too difficult to hold a trekking pole in one hand, my phone in the other hand and balance the body on a thin track. We had been walking for 12 hours. I was weak, hungry and scared but I had to keep moving. My legs were trembling with weakness. I asked my porter to leave me behind because I was unable to walk. I decided to stay. The porter said that it wasn’t safe to stay there, and that I could be attacked by a wild animal but I was least bothered. I told him that I would be staying there till sunrise and that he may go and send someone to rescue me. He moved forward a few steps and came back. We both were quietly sitting there looking to the only light in the sky, the moon. My teary eyes were stuck to the trek behind me with hope to see my team, but it was all dark and scary. With huge disappointment, I turned on my phone torch and put my finger over it, removed my finger, once again put my finger on the torch, basically just like giving SOS signals. Suddenly far on a mountain, I saw 5 lights blinking, just like stars, signals of life, they were getting closer to us. I wanted to scream with joy, I wanted to tell them that I was there. I showed those lights to the porter. I told him that I was going to wait until they got there. The porter told me that they were high up on the mountain and wouldn’t be where we were until around 5 hours. We couldn’t sit there and wait for them, but now I was a bit relaxed and energetic that my team was safe and they were coming. We walked for a very long time but there was no sign of settlement. I could feel my toes burning, my head spinning and my eyes being drowsy. It was worse than a nightmare. I can’t even count how many times my tears fell or how many times I remembered my family back home. When we reached in a village, I was numb and in disbelief. It took me a few hours to believe that I was safe and had survived. We had been walking for 16 hours and it was insane. People gathered, helped us and gave us food to eat. They were shook and concerned for us. I told them that my team was behind us. A few porters went to rescue them.

I can never forget that night. Some incidents in your life teach you to be patient and focused – to touch the limits of endurance. They teach you about your strength and the survival abilities of your body in difficult situations. Sitting at home cannot determine the potential that you have. And obviously, you will have to jump in the pool to learn how to swim.