- Kalikiri Hills, Chittoor
“There is no question that trekking offers the ultimate thrill, but there is much more to trekking than exercise and adrenaline rushes. Along with adventure, comes a means of happiness and inspiration. With every step, learn something great about life.”
It was on 27 August 2016. at around 5: 30 a.m. that I was waiting with a bunch of excitement. We waited in eager anticipation for the trekking expedition. At around 5:45 a.m the cadets of classes VI and VIII boarded two buses.
The base camp
We reached the base camp at around 6: 15 a.m. arriving at the base camp signals the start of the actual trekking programme. Our School staff reached prior to us as they were very busy in arranging things for us. The base camp includes a cluster of tents, with cooking facilities. Our Offg Principal accompanied by the first lady Mrs Sweta Dangwal reached the base camp. The first lady performed puja and invoked the blessing of goddess Ankalamma for a safe trekking. Our Principal advised us not to walk fast as the path was very slippery. He said the main aim of organising this trekking is to acquaint the cadets with jungle survival techniques besides imbibing in them the spirit of adventure in pristine surroundings.
On the trekking Trail
After the briefing we together trudged along narrow mountain trails above rushing mountain streams, wended our way through rich pine forests straddling deep valleys, crossed vast meadows at the base of rugged peaks, traverse pathway and climb across rock-laden passes. If any experience can be described as enchanting, this surely was! It is no exaggeration to say that the beauty and majesty of this mountain cannot be put into words.
The actual trekking started after the cadets have acclimatized themselves. A typical day's walk during a trek was about six to eight km. But it varies considerably. The route was charted out by experienced persons, who have a good knowledge of the region. The initial day's walk was often easy-paced, on gentle slopes. But this invariably got tougher as the height increased. After resting and replenishing ourselves, we got down to exploring the surroundings.
Not all climbs are managed without difficulties though. Even now at times, during a particular stretch we felt rather tired and not very confident of finishing! Some of the cadets needed encouragement and help sometime or the other. At times one may have to cajole them, adopt a somewhat ‘mollycoddle’ approach, whereas at other times a sterner approach was needed.
A trek through the abnormal track of the mountain, will take you up and down, right and left, left then right, and all over again. Even if we get tired of these twists and turns, we still trek forward. While trekking, we faced constant challenges like crossing thorns and climbing huge boulder. I thought of going back, but I didn’t give up as I drew inspiration from my fellow trekkers. I had gone so far and not completing the journey would have been a huge disappointment. I decided to forget about the pain and complete the journey. When we reached the top of the mountain, the enchanting beauty of Mother Nature was worth the pain.
The journey matters more than the destination
The way is filled with a myriad of natural wonders. There were blooming meadows gently canoodling with the land and the altitude of the mountain appears kissing the azure sky. The trek was a continuous supply of million dollar vistas. The feeling of being a part of this beautiful environment was way sweeter and more satisfying than reaching the destination.
This mantra of enjoying the journey to be applied to any situation–enjoy every moment of life, at home, on a mountain, or at work.
Not all arrivals at the base camp have been smooth, though! Trekking for almost three continuous hours, tired and hungry, we were greeted with appetizing lemon juice. Some of the cadets were very fatigue and hungry soon took over and many scrambled for places in the tents. Later, we had a sumptuous breakfast under the shadow of bulky green trees.
Our Principal Wg Cdr V S Dangwal was always there to lend a hand to the cadets in times of need. He dish out the cadets as the mess staff was engaged in preparing the dishes.
The cadets have always shown remarkable resilience and spirit at such times. They are accommodative of each other and soon learn to shoulder responsibilities. The cadets of class VIII looked after class VI cadets well. Many enduring relationships have begun and blossomed over this trekking.
The trekking route was completed by the First Lady Sweta Dangwal, Sq Ldr T K Sumesh, Mrs Sumesh and the families of all staff members. I must confess that the presence of staff members was a source of inspiration for all the cadets. I had no hesitation in saying that it was one of the most memorable days of my life which I will cherish in the years to come.