For 21 couples in the city, Valentines Day involved wearing sports shoes, rubbing sun tan, hiking up their shades over their nose ridges and trekking hand-in-hand with their valentine. They left the red hearts and candle-light dinners to the faint-hearted. Where their dates took place, natural pools lay ensconced in a forest setting, as Nature played chaperone.

Like every other trek done by the Chennai Trekking Club, this Valentines Day Trek too had the organising couple Sucharita and Shumon Chakraborty sending out email invites for members to join the trek. The trek was to happen at Nagalapuram (near Tada Falls on the Tamil Nadu-Andhra Pradesh border); the difficulty level read ‘Easy', and the condition: ‘No Stags and Does. Only Couples'.

“We had 25 couples wanting to go on the trek, but we had to keep the number down because it would have been unmanageable for us,” says Shumon.

This is the second time the trekking club has had a Valentines Day Trek, and the most significant difference was in the age group of the participants. “This year, we had couples in their Forties and Fifties. It was amazing to see that they were more active on the trek than even us youngsters!” says an excited Sucharita.

For Gopalakrishnan (52) and his wife Jayalakshmi (48), the trek was an opportunity to do what they both loved — being one with Nature. “This is the first trip with CTC for us, and we hope to go on several more. We want to do more of ‘joy trekking' than ‘adventure trekking', though,” says Gopalakrishnan.

But, a majority of the couples that went on the trek were obviously young and in love — with Nature and each other. “A trek such as this is the best way to not just reaffirm your love, but also a time when you can sort out differences,” says Arun (name changed). He has been with CTC for a while now, and found the trek ideal to get his girlfriend Shweta (name changed) into trekking.

“Even if you sat opposite each other at a romantic dinner, or walked on the beach, you would have only a few hours to spend with each other. But, on such a trek, you are not only away from the bustling city, but also have at least ten solid hours before you parted,” he adds.

Ask Navaneetha Rao (48) what gift he gave his wife Gita Rao (46) while they were in the midst of a forest campfire, and pat comes the reply: “My presence! At 48, my wife and I have crossed the point where we need to verbalise our love. Today, we think we can communicate a lot more with lesser number of words.”

Now, that was a Valentines Day sans frills.