Travel

When the mountains beckon

For these four, forty plus women - lawyers and friends - a trek in the Himalayas has been a realisation of their physical and mental strength

From our sedate shores, four city women-lawyers and friends-in their forties have just returned from an adventure of a lifetime, trekking 14,500 feet up the Hampta Pass in Himachal Pradesh.

Except for Priyadarsini Deepak who made her maiden trek, the other three were returning to the mountains once again. It is a draw, they say, they can’t resist, a mountain spell that has them in their fold. None talks about the inconveniences endured, but excitedly about the realisation that they are the can-do girls, balancing work, home and now reclaiming life. They are also smitten by the ineffable natural beauty of the region and how that has transformed their view on life and living. They rave about being among the clouds, watching eagles flying below and of rainbows at eye level.

The women enrolled themselves with a Bangalore-based adventure company India Hikes and joined a group of 29 others from across India for a moderate to difficult trek.

Patent Attorney Amina Shahul speaks poetically of her experience. She says, “The stillness of the mountains, the sound of water flowing...The trip humbles you. We carry so much excess baggage in life; it is good to know that one needs so little.”

Fortified with a course in vipassana and meditation, Priyadarsini joined in for some soul searching, as she turned 40. Her reason to undertake the trip was to look at life mindfully. “Life starts to guide you once you will it,” says the Corporate Legal Consultant. “Trek is one of those mindful activities. It has made me introspect ,” she says.

For Preethy Karunakaran, the most experienced in the group with two treks in her kitty, “a mountain trek is a great way to know oneself, the mind and body, its limitations and its strengths.” She had earlier negotiated the KGL(Kashmir Great Lakes) trek and Kedarkantha in 2015.

For civil lawyer Lakshmy Subramanian, the Himalayas were not a new experience. She had earlier travelled to Kailas-Mansarovar, and Amarnath in pilgrim yatras. But trekking in the Himalayas held another appeal, says Lakshmy. Along with Amina, both classmates in GLC (Government Law College), inspired the rest to come on board. Once they firmed up on the trek they began fitness training at a health club, something that stood them in good stead as they braved high altitude, inclement weather, glacial river walks, crawling on fours and negotiating difficult terrain.

One of the highlights of the trek was the glacial river walk, when they walked barefoot in freezing waters of melted snow. Looking back at the adventure, Priya recalls feeling unsure about undertaking the journey the day before it began but after its completion she says there are no regrets, only a sense of well-being and joy.

“Some of the big takeaways from this adventure have been being thankful for a flat surface to walk on, of appreciating warm weather, a toilet, our bed and home sweet home, but the joy of discovering oneself gives an altogether different high,” says Priya

So will they be undertaking something so physically hard? The women say that after they concluded the trek they were looking forward to a couple of years of rest and a big break , but “the power of the mountains is such that it has not even been a week since we returned but I am already thinking of the hills,” says Preethy.

And where will they head to this time? Warwan Valley in Kashmir or valley of flowers? May be, but for Lakshmy her eyes are set on the Everest, no less.

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 11:16:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/travel/When-the-mountains-beckon/article14649734.ece

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