First Trekking Experience and Overthinking

Prologue

I had been traveling India for long and to find real unspoiled beauty, it was time to go up higher in the mountains. I chose Kuari pass as my first my high altitude trek as it is one of the easiest trails in India.

And as the name suggests, it was perfect for me to take away virginity of the high mountains and it took mine.

Overthinking

Being my first high altitude trek, I was skeptical about my abilities and fitness as there were fitness criteria provided by Indiahikes to run 5 kms under 25 minutes along with other regimes.

As a person not used to running, I started doing it two weeks before embarking on this trek. And within a week of running, I came close to 25 minutes limit.

Acute mountain sickness is another possibility which is not to be taken lightly. But I knew it was not going to be too tough as I had a habit of living in the high mountains.

Arrival at base camp and overthinking again

I reached in Joshimath, Uttarakhand three days before the trek was supposed to start to roam around the place. This time, my backpack weighed 24 kgs when I left home. I left almost 8 to 9 kgs in the hotel and took a little more than essentials with me for the trek.

Met leaders and the team the evening before the journey started. The formalities, introductions and briefs were done. I kept thinking – Is my backpack too heavy to climb? I was used to walking with more weight but trekking seemed difficult since most people offload their luggage. I had heard Sherpas carrying thrice the weight I was carrying.

I was not there to hike, I was there to trek.

Crossing a peak at high altitude while Trekking to Kuari Pass
Trekkers of high altitude

The story  of my First Trekking Experience

On the first day we traversed through green forest area enclosing a few remote villages. My backpack felt a little heavy and It kept pulling me back as I ascended. I tried to use my folding trekking poles from Leki’s , but had no idea to pull the last segment to make it sturdy. I guess, I should have just read the instructions. I passed my pole around, but none could do it. So I was unable to use it for the entire trek.

I was always just ahead of the last person who was our trek leader. We talked, laughed, trekked and enjoyed the nature. It was a  little tiring that day to walk along the curves of nature.

Onwards, I got used to the trail and this time backpack kept me balanced on the trail because of the adjustments I made to straps last night.  We walked through little patches of snow to reachour campsite at Khullara.

Waxing moon during sunset
Sunset and moon shine – A perfect way to end the day

And to end the day, a mug of warm soup was enough as the sun set through the valley while taking away the warmth of my body.

Khullara campsite, a perfect place to camp surrounded by wide snowy hills and an open starry roof overhead.

Khullara campsite at kuari pass trek
The Bony Skull as flag post for our campsite

While people were playing games inside the dining tent to keep themselves occupied, I was stargazing lying on a pony’s saddle pad and walking around in dark cold weather.

Icy Patch on a slope – the most terrifying moment

Finally, the day came  to reach the final destination and we trekked over a thin sheet of snow throughout the day. Shortly before Kuari Pass, a frozen sheet of slippery ice on a slant slope was waiting for us to cross. Leaders made it easier for us with ice axes but it did not eased me in any way.

A dog crossing an ice patch
The terrifying moment of crossing an ice patch

For the first timers like me, it was a scary thing to do. My heart was beating faster by the moment. It was the only way to reach Kuari Pass. So I took my time, used some techniques and finally crossed the icy patch. It could not ask for more being my initial trekking encounter.

Trail from the pass further leads to another peak, Pangarchulla, which was closed during winters due to heavy snow. We returned to the campsite by evening after having lunch and enjoying our time over the top. This night I had planned to shoot the stars and I did, Boy was it cold out there! I could feel it in my bones after midnight when I came out of my tent to take some shots. But cold can never keep me from enjoying itself.

long exposure of camping under stars
Looking for stars with a flash-light at night at Khullara Campsite

Then the descent began and this was the first time when I realized importance of carrying weight on a trek. It keeps you balanced going down the hill. Return trail to Auli had a beautiful high altitude body of clear blue water, Tali Lake. Reflections of its surrounding mountains was something indescribable. Look for yourself.

High altitude lakes of India - Tali lake
A Mesmerizing Reflection from a blue water Lake

The conclusion

The last day was tiring as we had to descend for long hours. The final descend through valleys of Auli on a ropeway made us forget the pain though. Next day, we said good-byes and people left. I spent few more days there to explore the surrounding area.

The learning

We tend to overthink, which leads to so many problems in our life. As I did before my first trekking experience, but things were totally different when it really happened. When you go on a trek, Please take your time to enjoy outside, not inside the tent. If comfort or warmth is first priority, why bother torturing your legs?

Remember to trek, not to hike. At high altitude, Its all about the mental attitude. So, I went ahead and had another winter adventure.

You are more than welcome to share your trekking experience.

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