Traversing the beautiful valley did not look formidable when we set out on the second day of our ascend to the mountain ranges running along the Hampta Pass. I was confident about my fitness, as I followed a daily routine of at least 20 rounds of Suryanamaskar, was always on my toes (literally) braving the Bangalore traffic getting in to work, picking my daughter from school, dropping her for her athletics coaching, buying groceries, and multitasking various other chores.
When the trek leader announced that the day’s trek was going to be steep and that we had to be prepared, little did I know that it was going to be a test of one’s grit, determination, and above all physical fitness.
Barely had we covered two kilometers atop a hill, that a few of my fellow trekkers slowed down their pace. It did not take me long to follow suit. What was happening to me, I thought. I was engulfed with disquieted moments of embarrassment and shame for all the preaching I did on Yoga and Fitness the previous day. Here I was, struggling and grasping for breath, sweating the last bit of energy and feeling the pain in my knees. At the same time, there was an elderly woman in her late fifties who was right behind the trek leader, looking back and frowning as she had to wait for the slow ascenders to catch up with them. One of the most helpless moments in my life occurred at around 5000 feet above sea level, a point of no return.
In a do or die situation, all the 30 trekkers managed to reach the third camp site. After we settled down and gathered around the campfire, the trek leader appreciated the elderly woman and asked her to share her experience. With a grin she spoke about a lot of beautiful facts about life and the importance of an active life that I have summarized as follows:
- She has been walking for a major part of her life and would never think twice if she was put in a situation that involved walking.
- Some of the very good friends she made were the ones she met during her walks.
- Walking gives us the opportunity and emotional maturity to admire the environment around us and appreciate the time we have for ourselves.
- Walking is so relaxing that it releases feel-good hormones, which in turn, makes us think and perform better in life.
- It is one of the most effective means to beat stress and lead a peaceful life.
“Having a busy life need not necessarily imply a healthy life”, she said. “People these days, use cars or hop on to their two-wheelers, if they have to step out of the house, even if it meant going to the temple, buying groceries, or posting a courier, all of which came within a one-kilometer radius. There is no spare time for a stroll or even a short walk in the neighborhood, as everybody is glued on to the television or shamelessly making excuses that the entire week was spent on the roads amidst chaotic traffic. “