Kissing the skies: The benefits of Trekking

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“A gentle wind caressed my face. Below my shoes lay the world conquered, sweat dripped from my t-shirt, and my legs felt weak. I faced the lake that sprawled opposite of the mountain that I had claimed, a sense of tranquility fill my bones. I look beside me; a stranger was looking over the same exact lake, he was a conqueror too, I looked at him, nodded and smiled. Together, we shared this place, the wind teased us with a sweet drizzle, and the sun grinned in between the clouds. I had found my place on the earth.”

I often reminisce about these memories. It’s been three years since I started trekking and hiking. But this particular memory is still peculiarly etched in my head. That was my first ever trek. In spite of the common fear of height, being eaten by the jungle, or slipping from the edge and dying, I climbed the mountain. And the memories that I gathered on that trek further catapulted me into this wonderful hobby called trekking.

Now, after three years, I take enormous efforts to clear as many weekends as I can for trekking. Especially during monsoon when the skies are dark and the path to the top is broken and drenched. I take maximum efforts so that I can enjoy this season. Winter trek can be great too, and often are less tiring, but monsoon will always carry a different charm altogether.

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Trekking is beneficial to us in multiple ways, not just physically, but psychologically too. It helps us to appreciate the finer things in life, materialism takes a back seat, and we get to watch the nature in its full glory. While the overall pleasure is just priceless and the experience is ineffable, following are some benefits which we can surely reap from trekking regularly.

Physical Benefits:

1. Increase in Cardio-vascular strength: Trekking involves walking for long distances in a matter of few hours; this puts the heart under stress which significantly increases stamina, endurance, and capacity. Blood flow remains elevated throughout the trek as your heart is under constant pressure, this helps to maintain a balanced cardiovascular exercise without over straining the heart.

2. Agility and flexibility- Flexibility and agility are necessary to cross and climb through tough rock patches. Trekking helps you exercise every single muscle of your body and puts a strain on your physical form too. Carrying the extra weight of backpack also strengthens the back, abdomen and your legs.

3. An outdoor whole body workout- It offers new scenery at every turn and corner. While our body is busy working itself out as we traverse through rock patches, long uphill ascend, descends, crossing rivers, etc. the body utilities different muscle each time, this operates as a whole body workout. Fresh air and our muscles working out tirelessly is a combination that is rare to find.

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Psychological benefits:

1. Brings us closer to nature: Often in the mountains we are disconnected from people; mobile networks are unavailable and human settlements are far, this brings us closer to the ground below our feet. Since most of the trekking spots are often in remote areas, we tend to connect with nature without distraction. We get to experience first-hand just how much our mortal bodies are in sync with nature. This also helps us to appreciate the force of the nature. The new found respect helps us toward the betterment of the environment in our daily lives.

2. Focus and alertness: Although trekking is relatively easy and anyone can do it, to complete the task in hand with caution and safety we need to be vigilant always. A wrong step in the dense jungle or while walking on the edge can result in injuries, or worse, death. This constant fear also helps us to take calculated risks and also teaches us the benefits of extreme concentration.

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3. Stress reduction: While you might think treks are demanding on body and soul and may cause more stress, its nothing as such. In fact, the air is crisper and clean; the oxygen levels are high, this helps us rejuvenate our tired bodies. When there are no or very few distractions weighing us down, our minds find comfort and calm. Our stress level drops and we get a fresh start for next few days.

4. Because it is fun: Yes, there are millions of reasons to trek- be it for the mind or the body- but the most important is just one, it is just simple fun. There is nothing more soul satisfying than sitting on the ridge, touching the clouds with your fingers and climbing towering heights to stand tall over the mountain. It’s the sense of accomplishment when we cross that final boulder to the top that keeps us moving, living. Perhaps it is one of the rarest times that the journey itself is as good as the final reward.

I hope this provides you with enough reason to pack your bags and find the nearest mountain near you to climb. I do recommend that you should head out on such adventures with a group of friends, family or some trek organizers. Solo treks are risky and shouldn’t be attempted without proper knowledge and experience. And if you have made up your mind by now, I wish you the very best. The mountains await you.

P.S. Don’t forget to share your journey with us!

-Saurabh Kokane

Edited by Mrinaal Datt

Read more about them here.

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