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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Move over Indiana Jones...

Our trekking group- 20 of us plus three guides
I am not really an outside girl, as you probably guessed by the title of my blog and my penchant for shopping.   I have really never camped in my life; once I did spend the night in a tent at our local park with all the comforts of our air mattress and 600 thread count sheets.    However, no India experience is complete without a proper trek.   With about a year left, I have made a bucket list for myself and trekking was high on the list.   I also wanted to visit the Dalai Lama's temple in Northern India.   

In late March, a colleague forwarded me the invitation to particpate in the Himanchal Pradesh trek as part of a fundraiser for the Manovikas Charity in  Delhi that provides mentally challenged folks with options and training for employment.   I had to think about it for 2 seconds, promptly signing myself.     I downloaded the pdf detailing the trek and I can't remember much of what it said other than "toilet tents."  My other fear was that I have not been keeping up with exercise, letting client visits, long hours and kingfisher beer get in the way.    Now I had a goal!  

Taking a break up as we went up hill 10 km with a friendly
canine by my side...Priceless!

I pushed myself to get in shape, pack all my belongings for the 6 day trip into one duffel bag and a 20L day pack.   I scrapped my normal myraid of toiletries and went for the basics.  I do admit to applying lip gloss as I trekked up the hill and moisturizer whenever possible but overall I really tried!    

Our journey began with a flight to Delhi, then a 12 hour overnight bus ride from the Delhi terminal to Dharamshala (home of the Dalai Lama) followed by a day of acclimitization and then the 3 day trek.   The 20 of us loaded the bus in Delhi and between a boxed dinner, a quick stop for the bathrooms
Me jumping off the side of a mountain...literally... and
done in flip flops
...we made it through the bumpy roads, noisy passangers and close quarters.

Move over Indiana, here comes Becky in full trekking gear!
Our visit to McLeodganj (small town in the Dharamshala metropolis) the first day was filled with eye candy... Tibetan monks, road side stalls of tourquoise and silver and plenty of hippies that looked like they migrated from Goa to avoid the monsoon.  The thing about India is there is no shortage of color and excellent people watching opportunities.   Sometimes the best moments of the trip were sitting along the path or at a small cafe with chai watching who rounded the next corner.  
The trek itself was hard, I have to admit I thought that the path would be well groomed and ready for me.  But it was like being on the stair climber for four hours straight.   I was a sweaty Becky going full steam ahead.   My competitive side came out and I enjoyed the fast pace - getting me to the top fo the trail ahead of the pack.  When you are walking for hours through the mountains, focused on your hear part of yourself that is usually buried under endless emails and phone calls.

Our camp ground in Triund which was a meadow about 10,000
foot elevation facing the western himalaya range
I can't say that the inner Becky revealed anything shocking during my three days of trekking, but I did get to really listen to the people I was with.   Learning more about them then I knew through our working relationship.   I learned my body can take the challenge and there is something freeing about reducing the clutter - either mental or physical - that we tote around with us daily.    And finally, I like to see the sunrise over the Himalayas with a hot cop of cocoa in my hand while the valley is still and my mind is clear.   I didn't even mind the toilet tents and am planning one my trek before I leave India :)