Going solo to scale new heights

Going solo to scale new heights

Solo travel for women is often not considered a choice. This Women’s Day, Meenakshi Gupta tells you why women must travel alone, and make it a life-changer

Asima Sultana at Valley of Flowers

If you think trekking/hiking for women after the age of 40 is impossible, then you are mistaken. It’s for you to break this myth. Let’s face it, life is busiest for most women in their 40s. Kids are growing up, career is at its peak if you are working, or there are family commitments if you are a homemaker. Even the body goes through biological changes as fitness levels are sliding, and there are mood swings... the list is endless. But should all these deter your wish to trek or hike especially when you have never done it? Well, I would definitely say NO. I started my hiking/trekking after the age of 40 and did my solo trek in Himachal Pradesh last year.


Monalisa Deb at Kedarkantha Trek

If you are a woman over the age of 40 and want to start trekking, just do it. Trust me, once you start, there is no looking back. Nowadays, there are lots of companies who organise treks/hikes especially for women above 40 years. If you have any friends who are willing to join, get them on board. If not, then be rest assured that you will make good friends.

With the awareness created by various communities, tour organisers, social groups and even amongst friends, a lot more women are taking an interest in hiking even if it is a day trek of smaller altitudes.

Away from the hustle and bustle of city life and their daily chores, a majority of women find mountains magical and motivating, while others believe that trekking gives them happiness and relaxes their mind and for few, it is a great workout. As the number of women trekkers are increasing, safety is the key issue. To be on the safer side, a majority of women trekkers like to trek in a group with family and friends while others want to travel through an organised tour operator. A very small percentage want to travel with only women groups or solo.


Sudha mani  at Everest Base Camp.

For those who want to start trekking, it is always advisable to start their first trek with small altitudes/day treks, and then move on 2-3 days of medium difficulty level treks and finally to

5-7 days of high altitude/snow treks. This is the normal pattern observed and recommended. Since trekking or hiking takes you through rough terrains, wash rooms also become a big concern. You may need to rough it out, ladies!

Nowadays, trek companies offer facilities ranging from rustic and low-budget to comfortable stay with porters etc. Many women trekkers actually do not mind rustic and low-budget treks while others opt for treks from reputed companies for the comfort offered and also for security reasons. This is totally a personal choice, as the experience of trekking will not differ in any case. A new-age woman trekker is well-read and very clear about the kind of trek they want to undertake. They take referrals from family and friends, look out for trek companies for different levels of difficulty and do their thorough research before going even for a day trek.

Well, for those who are still looking for some motivation, you don’t have to go too far. Every three out of 10 women around you is into trekking or hiking. To name a few, Rupa Pravin, a town planner, recently did Chadar Trek in Zanskar at the age of 48 and Valley of Flowers at 50. Sudha, an IT professional, touch based with Everest Base Camp along with other pilgrimages in the region at the age of 53. Monalisa Deb, a designer, 50 and Soma Bolar, 44, a manager at an MNC, undertook the Kedarkantha winter trek recently. Asima Sultana, 55 a homemaker and a grandmother, visited the Valley of Flowers last year and Tasneem Jiruwala, also a grandmother, is a regular trekker.

There are a number of short treks from Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Pune and Chennai. Few treks of smaller heights and some that are ideal for 2-3 days can be considered for beginners.


Soma Bolar at Kedarkantha Trek.

The Hills Are Alive...

In Maharashtra 

Kalsubai: Highest peak in Maharashtra with an elevation of 5,400 feet.
Lohagarh: One of the many hill forts in Maharashtra in Lonavala at a height of 3390 feet.
Matheran: One of the most scenic treks, it is about 2,600 feet above the sea level.
Rajgarh: At a height of 4,600 feet, this Fort trek is situated in Sahayadris.
Prabalgad: At an elevation of 2,600 feet, this fort lies in the Western Ghats.
Rajmachi Fort: Lies at a height of 2,700 feet in the Western Ghats.

In Karnataka

Kuntibetta: At an elevation of 2,800 feet, this lies in Mandya district, about 125 km away from Bengaluru.
Makalidurga: 60 km from Bengaluru, this is at an elevation of 4,430 feet.
Nandi Hills: At 4,800 feet, Nandi Hills is just 60 km away from Bengaluru.
Hulukudi Betta: A short day trek 70 km away from Bengaluru.
Gokarna Beach Hike: Easy, to moderately difficult level, this is a day and night trek.


Rupa at Chadar Trek

An experience

There are a few Himalayan treks that can be done even after the age of 40 with some preparation, of course. Basically, any trek within 10,000- 12000 feet is manageable provided you maintain your fitness level really high. The list mentioned is comprehensive and not exhaustive. Few Himalayan treks are listed below based on the experiences of fellow 40-plus women trekkers.

  • Kedarkantha Trek: In Uttarakhand, with an altitude of 1,500 ft.
  • Valley of Flowers: Uttarakhand, with an altitude of 12,000 feet.
  • Har ki Dun: Uttarakhand, with an altitude of 11,675 feet.
  • Kuari Pass: Uttarakhand, with an altitude of 12,516 feet.
  • Sandakphu Trek: West Bengal, with an altitude of 11,940 feet.
  • Chopta Trek: Uttarakhand, with an altitude of 11,150 feet.


Tasneem at valley of flowers

Before you start...

  • Don’t let your spirits go down. Just say ‘You can do it’!
  • Start or build your endurance and strength. Get physically fit.
  • Check your altitude sickness level.
  • Start with a day trek or treks with smaller heights.
  • Look for a trusted and knowledgeable trail buddy.
  • Get all the information about the place you plan to hike/trek well in advance.
  • You can shorten the learning curve and inspire other aspiring women.

 

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