About last trip: Triund Trek | Summer trek, May 2017

Until you cross the bridge of your insecurities, you can't begin to explore your possibilities
- T. M. Fargo
At the heart of all my adventures was a quest to get home - and at some ungodly hour most of the run ups to the modes of transport were not short of an adventure, keeping those who knew about my journeys up all night. I was however yearning for real adventures, when I set out on those adventures they made me realize I was not fit for the terrain, especially those with an incline or a steep fall. What I did next seemed foolproof - I began climbing hills and trekking snow-capped mountains in my head. My imaginary treks and adventures came to an end after marrying Mr. M (the seasoned traveler, trekker) and moving to Gurgaon, where I knew the rendezvous with the hills was just round the corner.
Shot from Dalai Lama temple - Our best shot at snow-capped mountains
The D-Day: In the last week of May, to beat the melting pot that was Gurgaon, we hit the road for some chilly walks in the Dhauladars, we headed for my first real trekking destination, McLeodgunj. Watching those snow-capped mountains and the dark hills from a distance evoked mixed emotions – I was happy and scared. I was mentally preparing for my trek so we explored McLeodganj on foot in search of a haven to unwind from the long drive and Illiterati café down the hill was where we sat down to a beautiful sunset and a cup of hot chocolate. The walk back up the hill was what gave me a quick preview of what my trek would be like, and also reconsider fitness for my own good.
Sunset at Illiterati cafe
Literally warming up with a Cup of Hot Chocolate and a good travel book to go along
Hotel room confrontation: The night seemed the longest, my past trekking experiences haunted me, but come the next morning the beauty of the place made fear leave my body with each passing minute. All that I asked in exchange was a cup of refreshing hot pahadi chai – with that chai, and a knotted bun, I said 'Challenge Accepted!', Barney Stinson style.
Beautiful McLeodganj: Inspired me to go ahead with my trek
The road less traveled: The most popular and preferred way to trek to Triund is to start from BhagsuNag’s Gallu Devi Temple at Dharamkot, because that’s where the road ends and majority of them drive till this point. We were in it full-on, so Mr. M and I, started our quest for Triund from our hotel at McLeodganj – we had help from the locals who pointed us to the path we should take at McLeodganj’s main junction. And as the famous saying goes, the first few steps were the hardest, the first stretch had the steepest incline, but #naturescenes along the path kept me going not to forget a few sips of water and the yoga bar I was carrying on me. I saw numerous cars and autos drive past us but that didn’t bother me for the next 90 minutes, the last fifteen minutes made those quicker rides seem much wiser.
Enroute Gallu Devi with Pine trees for company
The Trek – Contemplation, To do or not to do?: Almost 2 hours and 4kms later, we reached Gallu Devi Temple for much needed calories and break. I was battling a lot of thoughts reflecting on the last 2 hours I spent climbing an almost pakka trail, against the kachcha track that lay ahead of me. There was a definite calling from the hills as I sipped on my chai and curiosity led me closer to the hills – the unknown path, and there began the second lap of my trek.

The Unknown ascent ahead
Ascent – Chai stalls, People, Mind games: Luckily for me the first few meters seemed rather flat, lonely and those boulders gave good grip. I soaked in the nature, the quiet, the slight nip in the air and embraced those curvy curves – till I fell short of breath, felt a huge lump in my chest - I sat down at the second chai stall along the trail. The number of people galloping on the trek kept increasing at this halt and so were the decibel levels. I kept wondering whether music that too on wireless speakers was necessary - Aren’t hills meant for some peace of mind and contemplation? 
Reminded me of old forests of The Hobbit
The blood rush and lack of oxygen made it impossible to set another foot forward; and all the digital noise began to wane my willpower. The guy who ran the tea stall mentioned about flirty weather and forecasted heavy rain in the next 5 minutes. I had so many reasons to give up (and cribbed aloud about going back) all it takes is one reason to hold on: in my case it was persistent and patient Mr. M who said, ‘Let’s do one thing, at the next tea stall we will have Maggi and assess the situation.’ (put this on a loop)
The Ascent: Battling mind games, fatigue and a kachcha rasta
I budged, and set on the kachcha rasta again, carefully landing my foot, giving way to the kachchers, ignoring people who ran and spoke and played loud music. I halted after every 500 mental counts for long deep breaths and a sip of water. We got from one tea stall to another minus the maggi – soaked in sweat, I battled fear of height, incline, fatigue, mental blocks and the unknown – still complaining (deep down I knew this cribbing was useless, 30 hours from now my body would no longer hurt, the irony - my body wasn't hurting yet). Unknowingly I crossed scary stretches and climbed rather safe looking boulders, listened to the people returning from the hilltop lie about reaching Triund in 50 minutes – I know what you did there - Mind games! I went on for many such 50 minutes till they became 20 and 20 became 5 and before I knew it, I was there - on top of Triund.
Almost there
The Hill:  This was the most humbling experience for me. The thick cloud cover barely gave way, but those fleeting moments it did, everything else seemed insignificant.
Panaromic view of Triund: Under thick cloud cover tucking away the snow-capped mountains
I saw the trail further up leading to Snowline café and then to the mighty Indrahara pass beyond, I saw the snow capped mountains, the Dauladhars. The first feeling that came to me, next time I would like to give snowline café a shot. The hill had a few tea stalls, and tents and a guest house on top. I finally had my maggi and thought, I should have stayed back and enjoyed the milky way at night, for a true into the wild experience. This was a good enough reason to plan another trip to the hills. Like all good things my hour on the hill top was coming to an end, and I reluctantly began my descent with numb legs and a heavy heart. 
Sloppy Victory pose
The Descent - Injuries, Chai Stalls and Wisdom: My worst fears began to unfold with every step; the fear of height and the fear of wrong landing made the descent an excruciating experience – both physically and mentally. It took more energy and effort to climb down. 
The Known Descent
I fell a little over five times during the whole descent - twisted my feet, hurt my big toe against the boulders, I couldn’t feel my legs but my calves began to hurt – this time round I didn’t complain a lot because I know how precious this energy was for me. I lied to people who asked 'How long?' another 50 minutes till you reach the hill, along the way. I sat down one last time at the same tea stall where I sat during my ascent this time however I treated myself for a cup of chai and was transported to another world,
From one of our halts during the descent
I came back from my stupor when it began to drizzle, 7.5 hours after initial forecast.  We resumed our descent in the thick cover of the trees and reached Gallu Devi temple by 5pm. This time round we chose a wiser way to get to McLeodganj, a cab ride.

Beautiful sunset - on our way back
I didn’t feel my legs the whole evening and by night I couldn’t move a finger, this sweet pain lasted for over 2 days, and those ten hours on the trek made me assess my health and fitness choices. As I reflected on my trek, the decision of not clicking photos during the ascent made sense, but not clicking them during the descent - not so much. 'We suffer more often in imagination than in reality', Seneca. I realized that the fear of falling down or subsequent body pains held me back, it began to hurt only after 7 hours into the trek. With this recurring fear, I was on the verge of giving up trekking at every difficult turn or curve, but nature has its own way to let you connect with her and through her, with yourself (I had additional help from Mr. M, though). Go ahead, set aside your inhibitions and embark on that adventure, it will either leave you with an experience or a quest for more adventures.
Screenshots from our phones - The Destination and the Journey
 Tips from a newbie:
  • Carry a small backpack with a bottle of water, you can buy more on the way, a few energy bars/fruit/nuts, glucose (optional, I didn't carry glucose or nuts)
  • Carry a paper bag to hold your trash, don't litter in the trails or on the hill
  • On the trek - when in doubt: take a break - sip some water or share a chai - the magic potion that kept me going - every crucial decision involved a chai in my case
  • Take deep breaths
  • Keep talking to the minimum, all that energy can come in handy 
  • Break your journeys into smaller milestones
  • Don't get intimidated by other people who are reaching ahead of you, take your time to enjoy the journey and the occasional animal friends who cross paths with you
  • Don't indulge in sugar laden/salty delights - they will leave you hungry and thirsty, pick a fruit instead - go easy on the Maggi  
  • Also avoid playing music - respect the animals and trees. Enjoy the calmness.

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