Walking through big forests at 7,000 feet in the Garhwal Himalayas was something I had never dreamt in a trek. However, as we approached the Oak forests, it was both refreshing and rejuvenating. The great Oaks looked comfortable and serene with other evergreens like the Himalayan blue pines (coniferous trees of the pine family) and the walnut trees that lose its leaves in winter. Brown leaves thickly carpeted the entire forest. Often, the trek took steep, uncharted, and winding paths through this dense foliage. However, all our physical efforts were cooled and comforted by the ever presence of trees. Moreover, it went on for hours and hours. But still, trek through Oak forest was one of the most enchanting experiences of Himalayas.
They say that Oak forests of Garhwal Himalayas is over a 1000 years old. For my eyes, they stood new and novel. Every Oak, Pine and the walnut trees in these forests seems to live in harmony with one another. I went around acknowledging my presence in the woods by taking very deep breaths and by touching my hand against some of tree’s trunks: Oak’s are rough and some are twisted. And in the forest, one sight was common: one tree seem to buttress the other in more than one ways. Now I know what the harmony in nature is all about. They share the same space, sunlight and the air, yet without quarrelling and quibbling. It always humbles a city dweller.
The real beauty of a Himalayan trek is that we never get tired or exhausted. Many ask me about the physical effort that I have to put in for a long trek. Yes, there is physical effort. But, as we move systematically, automatically our minds are rejuvenated. As the climb go on and on, we forget all about our physical efforts.
During any trek, I wear a wristwatch. However, one thing I really miss is to read the passing time. A friend of mine was carrying a wristwatch-cum-altimeter. That looked more attractive to me than a conventional watch. Nevertheless, the real fact is that, once in a wonderful trek, a trekker is not bothered about the passing time. He gets absorbed into the beauty of the meadows and the mountains. His mind wanders over the distant hills and the valleys. Every vista is a ‘raga’ for trekker’s eyes. Soon, the trek becomes a cleansing process. We let out the stale air from our life and replace it with the fresh breath of the woods and the meadows. I saw one of my fellow trekker taking a yogic breathing: forcibly pushing out the ‘trapped’ stale air in the lungs with loud noises.
On the mountains, effortlessly, it is breath after breath of cool and clean air that flows into our life. We become a pilgrim... just walking our way to life.
Photo Locations : (1) Oak forests and (2) Meadows at Pathar Nauchani, Himalayas.