Monday, August 24, 2015

The Hills Are "A Life"

My heart slowly lodged itself at my throat. The sweat drenched me, burning my eyes as they slyly entered through the corners. I tried to shut them, but they just wouldn’t. Images of dead bodies with their eyes open played before my wide , open eyes. My lungs seemed to be working overtime, trying to ensure that i breathe in oxygen & breathe out carbon dioxide, and not do the opposite. Visions of me collapsing and dying right then, right there, away from human civilisation & even worse, a cellphone signal, popped in front of my eyes.
 I remembered how I had fought with my mum the day before and hadn’t made up with her. How I had just wished my dad before he boarded his two hour flight. How I had forgotten to make my bed that morning. How I was  left with the last chapter of my book. Random, incoherent thoughts flitted in and out of my brain.
 I fumbled with my water bottle and gulped down water, which seemed to evaporate as soon as it touched my throat, and  raised my head to see the tall mountain, topped with a single tree, which was to be the final destination.

My fellow trekkers marching away towards the destination

One Tree Hill. Till yesterday, it was just the name of an American TV series. Today, it had become my nemesis, a colossal, green, volcano-formed mountain, which I, along with 37 other trekkers, was expected to conquer. Whoever said that physical pain is nothing as compared to mental trauma, had clearly not been in my shoes then.
This trek was turning out to be a pernicious route to my death, I thought, and mentally vowed to never trek again. Meanwhile, a  cheeky little part of my brain egged me on to finish the trek and collapse dramatically on the hilltop, and the body foolishly complied.

Grunting like a wild boar, I charged through, ignoring my heartbeat, which had begun to beat at almost 120 beats per minute. I had barely managed ten steps before collapsing to the ground in a black heap, miraculously still conscious.

“ Hey, are you okay? Breathe. Take a break. Breathe in through your nose & Breath out through your mouth. Don’t gulp  water,it.........”
The trek coordinator kept issuing random dos and don'ts at a frenetic pace, not unkindly. My brain, being too dumb to do anything of its own, sensibly decided to blindly heed his words, some of which had begun to jumble up in my head. As I begun to gain my vision, senses  and regular heartbeat,  the trek coordinator said, quite offhandedly,” It isn’t a race, go slow”
It wasn’t a race. That was it. Had this mad rat race seeped through every cell, every microbe, every bacteria in my body? So much that I had considered a trek to be a race in which I had to come first? And so ,much that I, the champion of “ first is not always best” had innocuously  absorbed that very principle

My guide put an end to this reverie by making me walk slowly through the jungles, stepping on the slippery, wonderfully red earth , dodging playful grasshoppers, and looking at caterpillar-chewed leaves. I took baby steps, which, as another fellow trekker pointed out, meant that, one step shouldn’t be bigger than the size of the other foot. Before I even realized, we had the reached our second stop – the plateau.
The view from our first stop - the plateau

Still sweaty, and somewhat relieved that I was still alive, I looked around absently, and skipped a heartbeat. Not because of the near-death experience, but because of the view of the valley, the river and the majestic Sahyadris. Every shade of green, every possible shade the human mind could think of, from khaki to lime to the garden-variety green was right there, au naturel. The entire landscape was formed of only two colours, green and grey, yet it was the most beautiful view I had ever seen.

An attempt at a panoramic view (and possibly my favourite picture)

I was just beginning to enjoy the trek, when I saw what was coming next. It was an almost vertical wall of rock, interspersed with surprisingly cold, and – there is no other word for it- delicate waterfalls. Quite entranced by the view and thirsty for more, I decided to just walk.Keeping up the pace, I steadily worked my way through the hill, motivating myself with a song from Disney’s Mulan

You must be swift as a coursing river
With all the force of a great typhoon
With all the strength of a raging fire
Mysterious as the dark side of the moon

The " Dainty" waterfall

The rock path..and ahead lies the wall of rock

And within no time, I had gone from being “ the girl who nearly died” to “ the girl who surprisingly made it to the top, with that dratted camera”. Yes, i slipped on some stones, once, twice, thrice, lost my grip on wet rocks, even stepped into cow dung at a particular point, but I made it alive and content.

As I sat there, looking around at the Sahyadris spread behind me & a mist of a river flowing ahead, I understood why people loved to trek. I understood why people said that a trek was therapy, not just a physical activity. Trek to me, was symbolic of life itself. Always risky, sometimes easy, sometimes rocky, sometimes downright confusing,sometimes intimidating, but in the end, you get through to the top.You can’t help but get to it. And when you do, the struggle, the collapse & the nervous breakdown is all worth it.

My favourite mountain !


The view from the very top, where the lake became mist, and where I truly understood the title track of The Sound of Music


I had left home, all fresh faced, clean & tidy, at 5 in the morning and reached home at 9 in the night with disheveled hair, mud that resembled blood on my calves, a pair of legs that seemed to have forgotten how to function, dirty shoes, multiple bruises whose origins are a mystery, a camera full of photos and a refreshed mind, a smile on my face and a satisfied soul.

And guess what – I have already registered for the next trek. To the mountains :-)!

5 comments:

  1. Wow.. wonderfully written.. I just loved my trek yet once again...i didn't knew you were a writer too...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow.. wonderfully written.. I just loved my trek yet once again...i didn't knew you were a writer too...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nice ! ...Beautifully described nature! I haven't been to Sahyadri but by reading this I was just visualizing its and surely I ll visit it soon! :)
    So What is your next destination ??? :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sonali! Not decided as yet, let's hope it's someplace exciting with wonderful people!

      Delete