Having somehow successfully completed what is rated by many as a difficult trek in the Sahayadris - Harishchandragadh, I believe I have arrived there. Plus, Harishchandragadh being a night trek, i think i have now become a true trekking veteran. So here is a compilation of a few do's and dont's which every novice and a not-so-novice trekker should take care of before embarking on a trek.
1. First and foremost: Ask yourself the question: Is it really worthwhile going all the way up a rocky mountain? To help you answer this question, there is a whole set of sub-questions:
a. Have you slept really well over the last week or so? You will be losing on some precious sleep during the trek. If you have already answered NO to this question, please ditch your trekking plans and instead go to a beach. Trust me, any beach, however shady/dirty it might be, Rocks!
b. Do you think you don't really need those exotic Reebok sneakers that you recently purchased at a flat 40% discount? Okay, so you are actually bored of them.? Go to the next question.
c. If you cannot make it to college/office tomorrow, will there be a good samaritan who will fill in for you? If your answer to this question is a YES, be sure (s)he is going to screw you up very soon.
d. Do you have a life insurance? Better get one soon!
e. Is there someone in your trekking group who is outrageously insisting that you have to come along on the trek? If YES, even a scatterbrained can smell something fishy.
If you are still intent on reading this post, here's the remainder of the advisory.
2. When the group is really large, it inadvertently always breaks up into smaller groups.
a.Do a headcount for each of the groups. Stick to the one with the highest number. Aliens, by virtue of being super-human and hyper-intelligent, swoop down on the smaller groups. The same doesn't necessarily hold true for the animals.
b. While walking in a file (remember the tracks are too narrow for you to walk alongside your best friend), avoid leading the file and also avoid being at the end . Aliens and animals alike, have a penchant for the first and the last. Any normal Hollywood/Bollywood flick should tell you why.
3. Always dramatise and overdo. Pretend to be in pain and act as if you are suffering a lot because of the arduous climb. Someone is bound to have pity on you and offer to carry your rucksack. Immediately offload. People change their minds relatively quick during a trek.
4. You will come across numerous short cuts which apparently cut down the time of ascent. However, bear in mind that people have fallen off crevices and lost their lives while navigating such short cuts.
5. Walk as fast as the slowest member in the group. (S)he is just being street smart and saving on some energy. The more vibrant and active members of the group are known to suffer from heat strokes and dehydration at the end of it.
6. Without intending to sound a chauvinist, the female race seems to have the sensible-trek-genes in abundance. They scout for the safest, no-thrills no-frills route. So, if possible, have atleast one female in the group. What it additionally does is, it raises the overall compassion-quotient of the entire group. This translates into frequent pitstops, loads of food and water break, by-passing of the difficult stretches of the climb and in some rare cases, leaving the trek unfinished. Which is actually good for everyone!
7. During a night trek, carry the most powerful torch possible. Snakes and insects are creepier than you can imagine. Insects, unlike animals, always have nefarious motives. The best way to deal with them is to stomp on them or bludgeon them to death with your torch. So, if you happen to be an entophile, better not go on a night trek.
8. The view from top is absolutely breath taking and awe inspiring. But that feeling is momentary. Once the novelty wears off, you can comprehend how difficult the descent is going to be for someone whose limbs refuse to move and whose energy has been totally sapped. People have been known to suffer from the NDEs (Near Death Experience for the uninitiated) after reaching the peaks. And some went into eternal meditation mode . Do you think its worth the risk?
My advisory doesn't end here. However if I have still not managed to dissuade you from embarking on some trek, then nothing else in this world can. So. MAY THE FORCES BE WITH YOU. Do leave behind a comment if you manage to come back alive and in one piece.