Camping in The Hills

The tangy taste of the foothills of Himalayas, snow capped mountains and ground and sky merging together like two bodies and one soul. This wasn’t a dreamland, it was a place where my friends and I spent the five most memorable days of our college lives.

When the nation’s capital was experiencing the torturous heat, we were far away cuddling in nature’s shelter. The five-day Himadari adventure camp’s journey started from Delhi and took its first halt at Kathgodam railway station.

Kathgodam, a small town in Himachal Pradesh famous for its red luscious cherries, took us to our final destination Ranikheth, a place that took us close to our mother from who we had been detached for so many years.

But the scenic beauty was ignored for a few hours when the group realised that they had to sleep a bit too close to the nature – in tents. The mornings began early, actually a bit too early around five in the morning. The chirping of birds served the purpose of the morning alarm. With a three kilometer morning trek, our tummy growled for some food but the mountains’ natural delight could not be a substitute for mom’s food.

Gandhiji’s policy of, “the only way to conquer one’s fear is to face it,” was adopted by all. No one being a professional hiker or an adventurer, we experienced the adrenaline rush experienced never before. We all had different uncertainties but were determined to overcome them.

The first task on the list was rock climbing. Hanging 3000 feet above the sea level with two ropes was not at all a comforting thought. With a bit of hesitation, we lifted our feet off the ground to soar heights, faced difficulties but managed our way to the top. The feeling a child gets when getting a chocolate after his dentist visit was akin to what everyone felt after reaching the paramount. But as it is said, what goes up has to come down. So it was time for rappelling. To my surprise, a wave of excitement rushed through my mind and I felt like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible coming down the rock, obviously with the soundtrack playing at the back of my head.

The first successful day of the camping trip had given us both exposure and poise. All of us were ready for the upcoming tasks, which we were sure are not going to be easy. The next morning, after the routine trek we mounted our buses for the ten guards ground, approximately a sixty minute drive from base camp where our second major task, parasailing, was in the offing.

The drive to the ground is something I, personally would never forget. It was a long stretch of curvy tar, without traffic lights and traffic jams eliminated the need of a horn. The street urchins on signals were far out of sight. I saw two antelopes hopping and playing with each other, maybe they were old friends meeting after years I wondered, and right there was a peacock showing off his vivid feathers.

The bus halted shaking us up, it was time for parasailing. As the ignition was reached the jeep took off and so did we. Remember as children how we always wanted to be a bird flying high in the sky? There I was fulfilling this dream of mine.

At the end of the day, our bodies were craving for rest, even the sleeping bags on the uneven surface were as comforting as a silk mattress. The next day we gave horse riding and river crossing a hand, the adventure just kept on rising.

Then arrived the last day – the finale. As the sun crept into its cocoon, we conquered another stage, this time with music as our partner. Dances prepared by co-campers were performed and after having the dinner, which was no less than a feast after four days of almost starvation, was the most awaited bonfire. Farewell songs sung echoed in the dark and silent woods. Tears rolled down as we boarded the bus, departing from the place where we spent five adventurous days. Memories from the past still flash in my mind and I hope to return.

Aakanksha Ahluwalia

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