21st May: It was the day when we reached Sankri (our base campsite). I expect that I will have a mobile network till here. But as soon as we arrived Sankri, the network was no more there. I learned that only Jio & BSNL network was available at Sankri. I had Vodafone. And this was my first realization that I would not be able to talk to my family and team for the next five days. I could not sink in.
“I had not said them goodbye. I thought I would be saying the same at Sankri. But how can the network end up suddenly? Isn’t it a right to have a mobile network? I wanted to talk to my family and say I love them. I wanted to talk to my team and say I am confident about them and that they can manage without me. But I could not as there was no way I could. I started having anxiety. I was uncomfortable. I know it was a matter of only five days, but it mattered to me. Because this needs to be communicated.”
Immediately I went to a shop nearby and bought a new Jio connection. After all, I need to talk to them. Even for a few hours, I wanted a connection to talk to my family & team. It took an hour to find and get the connection activated. This was the moment I breathe. I was fine.
I called my family and team and informed them that I would be out of reach for the next 5 days. Though this was not easy for me, but it is what it is. Yet, I was now relaxed that I could say a proper goodbye.
At this moment, I felt what all the authors keep saying – talk to your loved ones. Maybe tomorrow you won’t be able to.
So, the next day the trek begins. And here are the learnings or certification (please note, these are not just trek learning but learnings on how to live a meaningful & beautiful life as per my perspective. So, for each point, consider into personal & professional life too):
While I believe in the concept of minimalism, the trek further certified my belief in it. In order to survive, you do not need anything else except oxygen & water. If these two vitals are in place, you are free to trek to the next level. There is so less we need to climb up, and there is so much we pack. But the higher we go, the lighter we need to be.
The same is with life (personal or professional):
- In order to lead a happy life, we do not have many people in our life. A limited few are enough. It can even be 1 or 2. In the end, only these people matter. These will be the only ones you would like to remember, would like to spend time with, would like to love and share with. None else would matter. Trust me here. Especially the ones who you think betrayed you or did injustice to you etc, you would not even remember them once. Not even once.
- In order to run a successful business, you do not need a large team. A team that can be fed in 2 pizzas is enough (as put by famous Jeff Bezos). All you need is “Team A” (quality people) with the same focus. So, stop focusing on ‘n’ number of people or building a big team. Focus on the product more than the team.
- The minimalistic concept also applies to food. This was new to me. Each day, we were given breakfast, lunch, soup (evening), and dinner by the trek organizer team at a particular time. Breakfast was heavy, lunch and snacks were light, dinner was heavy again. But the interesting thing is I realized apart from this; we do not need anything extra (flex seeds, tea, coffee, eggs, protein bar, etc.). Nothing was needed. You may carry it and have it for your mental satisfaction, but it is not needed. I tried this for 3 consecutive days on trek and so can say so. I plan to apply this in my daily life as well now.
Interestingly, while coming back from the trek, when I entered the Delhi Airport, I saw there so many stores of luxury goods, from clothing to food joints, and I smiled to myself – so less we need, and so much we have. I just passed by all of them with a smile on my face. The stores didn’t bother me at all. Because the city is no more the same once you have been through a multiple-day trek/ expedition.
Family first & last:
When you are happy, when you are at peace, when it is the end….all you remember is your family & the loved ones. You do not remember work. You just wish you could have spent more time with family. While I have read this in many books and listened to this by many successful people while on a trek when there was no way to get in touch with family, this was all I could remember first. I said to myself, “I wish I had spent more time with my kids”. Now I plan to, and I will.
Even in fitness, mind first:
Mental fitness is much more important than physical fitness. While most think of trekking as a physical activity, I realized it is more of a mental exercise.
- I saw a 6-year-old kid and a gentleman 80-year-old do it. So, age is also no bar.
- I saw a 100 kg person and a 35 kg teenager do it. So, weight is also not a bar.
- I saw an utterly fit person surrendering after completing 75% of the journey vis a vis a person shivering in fever completed the journey. So, health condition is also not a bar.
- So, what is it that matters? Your Determination.
Mind first BUT fitness matters:
In the last point, I stated that your determination is more important than your fitness, but this doesn’t mean fitness is not important. Our trek leader defined the importance of fitness in one single line “If you are not physically fit or haven’t planned the trek nicely, you may complete the trek for sure. But you STRUGGLE to complete. But if you are physically fit or have planned the trek nicely, you ENJOY the trek. It is on you to decide how you want to trek – through Struggle or through Enjoyment?”. Says all.
Company is good:
“I like to travel solo.” I am one of them, and I do listen to this often. Even on this trek, we had few people who were solo traveler, including me. No doubt we had our time and were at peace with it but one of them said something which hit hard “It is good to be alone, but it is also hard to be alone.” At the end, you want to talk to someone. In the end, you need someone to motivate you when you are down. In the end, you need someone to give you company when you need one. So travel solo, but don’t live solo.
It is a TEAM WORK:
On the first day of the trek, our trek leader reminded us of something. She stated, it doesn’t matter who is first or who is last, we stay together as a team, and we reach the summit together. This means if somebody is reaching a particular point early, he/she has to wait till the last person comes, and then we move ahead. So basically, the team’s speed is the speed of the last person. It may sound good on paper but it doesn’t feel good when you are among the first batch to reach as you lose your momentum and speed. However, it is what it is, and it is teamwork. Because these are the same people who are collectively being called as a team who keep inspiring or pushing you to go for the next step. No journey is fun alone. So, choose your team wisely, and once chosen, be with the team.
Leader’s not necessarily always lead from front:
On the second day of the trek, a co-trekker was tired and thought of giving up. She was also a solo traveler. I could not let it be. I tried to take some weight off from her and me, and our trek leader, Seema (in the snap below), was there with her for the entire trek on 2nd day. Staying with her at the end of the batch taught me one of the biggest lessons, i.e., we do not always lead from the front. Leading from the front needs passion and aggression. But leading from the back requires strength and patience. And for the long run, these two are equally important as the former qualities.
Nothing looks as beautiful again, when you are coming down:
While I do not certify this point overall but I speak for myself. I realized that the same waterfall, the same clouds, the same valley, and the same meadows didn’t appeal to me as much as it appealed to me when I saw them first time while going uphill. While downhill, I didn’t bother so much. I am yet to find the answer to this. But I thought to share.
So these were a few of my learnings from my first trek, “Har ki Doon,” with Trek The Himalayas (TTH*). While there are a few finer points, I believe the above covers 80% of my learnings and experience. I am thankful and blessed to do this, and I look forward to doing many such treks/expeditions in the future.
Looking forward to get closure to self, each time.
*I would like to state that I am extremely satisfied with the professionalism and services provided by TTH. The arrangement, the timing, the team leaders, the food, the energy, and most importantly, the care was amazing. They CARE for their trekkers. They CARE for every small stuff in adverse scenarios also. Appreciate their hard work & commitment.