Picture this: Monsoon. Mountains. Greenery. Waterfalls. Fog. Muddy pathways. A gush of sudden cold wind that takes your breath away and to top it all piping hot chai and local food after a tiring trek.
An ideal scene for professional and amateur trekkers who are just waiting for the rains to set off to the mountains.
From the past few years, the crowd flocking to tourist as well as offbeat places has increased tremendously.
The latest trend is people going to click pictures and selfies in dangerous poses to garner likes and comments on social media. Most of the time, people are unaware of what lies ahead and the repercussions if anything goes wrong. With forts and trekking destinations being spread out on vast expanses, getting lost or going off track is very commonly seen. Every time tourists get into themselves into trouble or wander away, it’s the professional trekking groups that have to rescue people and help the police in search operations.
After climbing some Sahyadri’s and being in some fatal situations myself, I have listed some trekking do’s and dont’s from my experience:
1) Listen to the locals
THE most important point. Not sure if this is an Indian mentality only, but neglecting safety warnings and not paying heed to locals is our speciality. There is a news report almost every day of people falling to death due to their callousness. The locals know their surroundings better than you do. Listen to them. It will do you no harm but it might just save your life.
2) Trekking in groups
Don’t venture out alone. There are a plethora of trekking groups that take people on treks and chose the one that suits you. Make sure to check the experience and reviews of the group who is organising the trek. Only experienced organisers should be preferred.
If you are a group of friends planning to trek on your own, then google information about your destination beforehand. Try to take along an experienced trekker with you.
3) Judge the weather
If you think you are unable to climb it due to heavy rainfall or any other thing, stop trekking. The mountain isn’t going anywhere. You can do it the next time. The best time to trek is the beginning of rains and once the monsoon starts withdrawing. Avoid climbing in the peak season. The weather tends to be harsh and erratic.
4) Trekking gear
If it’s a local trek, you could do with your everyday sports shoes but if the grade is difficult, please invest in a decent pair of trekking shoes. Floaters are not shoes. They might seem comfortable but in case of climbing a treacherous path, they will not provide the required grip.
5) What to carry in your backpack?
Your backpack should have minimal and relevant items only. Essentials which include water, food, torch, a first aid kit and dry pair of clothes should be carried. The clothing should not be too bright and preferably full length. There is a very high chance of insect bites or thorns brushing against your skin.
6) Leave no trace
Do not, I mean DO NOT leave anything behind. Plastic bottles, liquor bottles, food packets, no garbage. Nothing. Most of forts and mountains are of historical importance and is a home to the local deity. Refrain from consuming liquor.
With hordes of people heading to their favourite forts or mountains, it’s a tedious job for the authorities to ensure that those trekking head back safe and alive.
One small mistake, and all those plans can come crashing down like a house of cards.
The monsoon and the mountains don’t look heavenly after that.
Make sure you have a good time but with caution.