Wonderful Write-Up By Srinivasa Raghav
It was three years to the day since I last trekked. Urban conditioning had taken over. Unhealthy and unscrupulous habits had become second nature. Littering was again a part of my life. The knees were weak. The waistline had gradually inched outwards and beckoned an effervescence of heart diseases. I longed for a shot in the arm and Rajasekaran did me good by announcing a Nagala East trek.
The trek itself was an easy one. Nagala East was a place I had scaled many times. It was far from challenging at the outset. However, the urban habits I had assimilated had become an attitude. And that made this trek far more challenging. Mentally.
Before embarking on the journey, I thought I had all the eggs in the basket. A lightweight backpack. Check. Sleeping Mat. Check. Maggi Bowl. Check. Sleep early. Check. The morning of was excitement in anticipation. The journey to base camp was nostalgic. But all the feel good sensation ended before I reached the first pool.
To have trekked in the past and come back after a hiatus of three years is a revelation of sorts. My body felt fatigued. My feet sore. I already felt like taking a nap. “Is this for real?”, I wondered. I was supposed to be someone in great physical shape. But the walk to the dead-end pool made me reflect on my own inadequacies. That walk is akin to prison. Time. You have a lot of it. You have nothing to do except walk. Two hours of introspection.
What had happened to me was conditioning. The most basic evil of human condition is inertia. If you are lazy, you want to be more lazy. If you are a glutton, you want to eat more. If you are a smoker, you crave for more cigarettes. And by design, by definition, the human conditioning can also be used for positive effects. If you a runner, you want to run more. If you like the gym, you want to workout more. If you are a trekker, you want to trek more.
In those two hours, all the lessons I had learnt in my earlier treks came to fruition. As Peter elequontly put it to me in my first trek, “Mind over Body”. I started enjoying the trek. The climb. The boulders. The walk. Where there was pain, there was energy. Where there was uncertainty, there was eagerness. For those of us who hold this activity dear to our hearts, we’ll never forget it no matter the hiatus. It will always come screaming back. The bad habits we gain in city life will vanish within moments of this realization.
And soon, the reasons dawned on me as well.
There is a fundamental serenity about raw nature. It makes you feel small amidst the awe of splendor. Barring the few trails that one can witness owing to tens of thousands of CTC trekker footpaths, Nagala is pristine nature. Some sing. Some play an instrument. Some paint. We trek. It is the artist in us that makes us trek. And the process is it’s own reward. Not the destination. There is no magic waiting at the magic pool. The magic is in the 6 hour walk. The adulation arises from the physical exhaustion.
What I learnt was very fundamental. Trekking is an art. There is no artist in the world who does it for the result. Or for the paycheck. The trek is it’s own reward. We love it for what it is.
The night that I lay on the magic pool, albeit after a million visits to natural restrooms, I was gazing at the night stars. Listening to the sound of the waterfall trickling down. Feeling the chillness of 10 degree winds. I was wondering if I would do this again. And the artist in me expounded with a resounding yes. If trekking is what drives away the madness of city life, then trekking it is. I’d go for that art any number of times for that’s my cure for Inertia.
And that’s why I trek.