Ain’t no mountain high enough!

Trekking takes you places you have never been before and makes you feel on top of the world. B V Prakash suggests a few trekking destinations for you to check out...

Trekking hardly needs any special preparation other than fitness and interest.

As winter fades away and the beautiful season of spring blossoms, it’s time to head towards the wilderness. The weekends see hordes of people taking off for the mountains with their backpacks. With the ever busy lifestyles and mechanical routine of life, especially in the cities, it is natural that people feel jaded and very much deserving of a break.

Earlier, a break meant a visit to a hill station, a waterfall, heritage destinations or a wildlife sanctuary. Of late though, the outing is more meaningful if there is a dash of adventure thrown in. The breaks have to provide thrill and excitement besides scenic beauty and wild vistas. That is how adventure sports began gaining popularity. Over the years, a wide variety of various adventure activities from paragliding, bungee jumping, trekking to river rafting and scuba diving have become accessible.

And among all the activities, trekking is undoubtedly the most sought after. For, it hardly needs any special preparation other than fitness and interest. With numerous options of day hikes and weekend treks, the scope for the activity is immense. And for those with time at their disposal, there is nothing more pleasurable than a trek in the majestic Himalayas.

When it all began...

In ancient times, traders and merchants used to wander across hills and dales for the purpose of business. Subsequently, maharajas and other royal people went hiking in remote areas or hunting on horseback. In the 1960s, the border areas became sensitive signalling restriction on travel. It was only in the 70s that the curtailment began to ease and people could visit far-flung areas in the foothills. In 1970, Youth Hostels Association of India (YHAI) took a pioneering step in organising a Himalayan trekking expedition to Solang Nullah near Manali. As civilians could walk into a territory that had been the domain of the armed forces, the programmes became extremely popular, paving the way for exploring and offering new routes in different Himalayan ranges. Ever since then, YHAI has been organising scores of trekking expeditions every year.

When the famed British mountaineer George Mallory was asked why he wanted to climb the mountain, his instinctive answer was, “Because it’s there.” This went on to become a well-known quotation for climbers suggesting climbing itself is the objective. Likewise, many may wonder why trek at all. While there is no objective reason for what one gains, the mere experience of spending beautiful and happy moments on a trek and the pleasure of cherishing those memories itself is invaluable.

What trekking is all about

Though no special preparation as such is necessary before going on a trek, a few things should be kept in mind. First off, one has to be physically fit to face the rigours of trekking. Before undertaking a hard trek, it would help to start with a few day hikes followed by treks of two to three days. If the trekking area is in the inner lines of forests or is part of a protected forest/wildlife sanctuary, proper written permission from the authorities is a must. Taking reusable items like lunch box, mug and cutlery are better than disposable items. Walking at a steady pace and gaining altitude gradually not only helps overcome fatigue, but ensures the body is acclimatising well.

Trekking need not always be in the mountains. It can be undertaken in different ways like treks along beaches or river banks or even in the deserts. The Chadar trek organised in Ladakh in the winter is unique as it involves walking on a frozen river!

In Karnataka

With a 300-km-long stretch of the Western Ghats, Karnataka is indeed blessed with numerous trekking options.

Kudremukh

Kudremukh is undoubtedly the most lovable trek with rolling hill ranges, grasslands and shola forests. As the 6,200-feet-tall horse-face-shaped peak is now part of a tiger reserve, restrictions are in place. One can undertake a day hike to the peak with proper permission and a guide. The department allows the first 50 trekkers every day to climb the peak.

Kumara Parvatha

Kumara Parvatha in Dakshina Kannada district is another formidable mountain rising to 5,600 ft, near the pilgrim destination of Kukke Subrahmanya. Also called as Pushpagiri, the trek can be completed in two days. With facilities of food and stay at Girigadde Bhat’s house on the trail, it is quite easy to organise this trek. The forest check-post at Girigadde is where prescribed fees have to be paid.

Tadiandamol

Tadiandamol peak in Coorg district is yet another option. At 5,740 ft, it is the highest peak in Coorg district. Starting from Kakkabbe village near Virajpet, the trek can be completed in a day.

In the Himalayas

If you plan a trek in the Himalayas, there are a countless number of trails to choose from. The difficulty level also varies from trek to trek.

Valley of Flowers

Valley of Flowers off the Badrinath highway in Uttarakhand is a fairly easy one. Approaching from Govind Ghat, the trek can be completed in about a week’s time.

Har ki Doon

One of the most scenic trails, Har ki Doon valley trek in the backdrop of Mt Swargarohini and Mt Kalanag goes along the river, over grassy meadows and verdant forests. The trek is moderately tough gaining altitude gradually.

Sar Pass

One of the toughest, but most beautiful routes in Himachal Pradesh, Sar Pass trek in Parvathi Valley is very popular. The trail passes through some of the best campsites with breathtaking views. One of the camps at Bhandak Tach is in such lovely surroundings that it is nicknamed as ‘Mini Switzerland’.

Kalindi Pass

Almost considered as a mountaineering expedition, Kalindi Khal trek in Uttarakhand is not only hard but gives one an opportunity to view some of the majestic towering peaks like Shivling, the Bhagirathi group, Vasuki Parvath, Satopanth and Kamet, to name a few. Beginning from Gangotri, the trail passes through a glacial moraine to Kalindi Pass which is situated about 19,500 ft above sea level, and then descends down to Badrinath.

These are only illustrative. For the ardent adventurer, the options for trekking are innumerable and there are many beautiful trails waiting to be explored. So, what are you waiting for? Pack your backpack, get set, and go! 

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Ain’t no mountain high enough!

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