Table of Contents
What is Extreme Travelling?
The phase “Extreme Travelling” is used for people who know the risks of travelling to a certain place, yet they do it anyway. Leisure travel is far away from the Extreme Travel. Extreme Travel is a kind of travel that involves travelling places associated with extreme conditions which in turn indicate suffering.
When I choose to do this trek back in 2019-January, there were many people who asked me one question: “Why would you travel when you know the conditions are such extreme ?”. I had no answer to the question except for the typical one “I want to do it for my passion”, but my answer wasn’t convincing enough for them. Fortunately, my family did not hold me back from doing this and supported me fully. I started preparing for this trek- The Chadar Trek, and booked my trek through a company called Thrillophilia
Why is Chadar Trek Extreme?
The Chadar trek is considered one of the most extreme treks in India, because of the extreme and uncertain weather conditions. Some of the risks involved in this are landslides, frost bites, even deaths due to low oxygen levels on the high altitude, and sustaining the extreme cold, dry climate.
Well, in this blog I am just going to try and address the above question. I cannot say I would answer their question, but yes I will try and explain why it was important for me to do this trek. Towards the end of this blog I shall also help you with the link of the blog containing some informatives, just in case you find them handy if you plan to take up this trek.
To read one of my amazing experience on the Chadar trek you may also read my Blog: A Cake Amidst the Frozen River
What is Chadar Trek?
The Chadar trek is a 5-6 days trek in the Himalayan region of Zanskar. The Zanskar river freezes in winter and forms the Chadar. Chadar means a bed-sheet. The Chadar trek is thus walking on this frozen Chadar on the river Zanskar. We had to sleep in tents on the banks of the river, sometimes even on the icey surfaces
I would say this in literal sense because even a little moisture in the tent would get the tent floor mat iced. We had to acclimatize in Leh which is also equally cold (-15 degrees approx) for 3 -4 days minimum before starting this trek. The temperatures at night on Zanskar would fall up to -40 degrees, sometimes even lesser.
In spite of the harsh conditions faced while on Zanskar, visiting Chadar will never be a regret for me. It has taught me immensely that no classroom, or no person could ever do. This trek is full of immense learning and meeting a new version of your own self. Below are few things I learnt from this trek.
Why I took up Extreme Travelling?
- The most authentic moments in life are not to cook, to sing and to dance, but the most authentic is what occurs once we have been tested of our capabilities after enduring and sustaining a crisis. (in this case climatic crises).
2. You are very likely to get a blister while walking on the ice, as the ice is wet, yet its dry ice. The realization that you can continue in spite of the blister, the feeling that you can’t wait for the pain to subside before taking the next step is in itself a lesson. When faced with pain, there is a sort of temptation which leads us to become self-centered. You are in a situation “its all about me” but you have to keep your determination not to stop anyway.
3. Imagine a world without any suffering. It would be a much more pleasant world. But would it be a better world? A world where sacrificing in the name of love for another human being didn’t exist, a world where passion wouldn’t exist. There wouldn’t be any phase of learning if the sufferings, the problems are taken away. I personally wouldn’t like to live in such a world, would you? Sometimes we have to endure pain and suffering which then turns into joy that we might not have otherwise felt. No one likes to suffer, but yes walking extensively in this extreme climate did help me grow and mature.
4. What is any journey without setbacks and difficulties to reach your goal? Experiencing physical and mental setbacks, are a greater source of learning. Because you overcome the pain of blisters eventually by walking and focusing more on your goal than the pain. Our goal on this trek was the Naerak waterfall which was a 30 ft approx. wide frozen waterfall, probably even wider.
5. I have learnt that our psychological age is defined by what pain and experiences you have been able to overcome.
6. There were moments when we had to step-in ice-cold water to cross the river, moments when fresh snow was continuously showering upon us, making the climate colder. We did not allow these difficult moments to defeat us, we overcame them with the hope of reaching our goal.
7. There were nights when we hadn’t enough sleep enduring to the cold, but nonetheless, once you get moving, you get used to it. Be, like, a pretty view afterwards. Its all just a matter of finding your own rhythm and keeping focused.
8. There were times when I slipped and fell off due to the ice, but at the end I knew that I have to get up and keep going one more time, every time.
9. We knew we had to carry our own luggage as the porters already have a lot to carry like tents, food, mattresses and sleeping bags etc. so we had to pack minimum and leave everything back at the hotel in Leh. Back in the hotel we literally were sorting things. Eg : 2 t-shirts were essential but what if we wear them in different layers?
Like first day’s layer 1 becomes next days layer 2. It was awful deciding on what to take along and what to leave. Some how we lightened our load to realize that we can live with a very few things. I learnt that we can live joyfully in little things, there is joy in simplicity, and even in poverty, and that those who possess more (who had carried way too much if their essentials) were often more frustrated and unhappy.
10. With this sorting I also learnt how attached we sometimes are to unimportant things in our life’s, which take so much space in our lives, in our hearts and we think we cannot live without them, but we actually just need to shed off the weight as they could be a distraction, and yes that can slow us down than the others
11. There was a moment when one of my friends fell down the rocks and fell on the ice so badly that she sprained her leg badly, and was unable to get up. She was sitting there in pain thinking to quit the trek until we reached her and pulled her back up again, physically on feet, mentally towards our goal. We learnt sometimes its okay to have this sense of vulnerability ” ok, yes, I am weak, and its ok to take help from others”. The rest of us also realized what good is it to reach our goal if we don’t walk alongside those who were our team?
12. Sufferings of others revealed the truth for each one of us and as a result we discovered that selfish travel is not a good travel. Through the acclimatization days, we were learning to live together, to put up with each other, to share our limited resources with each other.
13. Having meals with so many other travelers, walking together, talking along the way, we see the sun, we see the river, we see the mountains, we see the stars, there are so many joyful things, and the extreme climate is just one tiny part of all this. We found joy even sliding down the plain ice and landing on our bums.
14. After seeing the sufferings of people from our group, we intended to be at the service of anyone weak, sick or lonely who walks along with us. This was not only for our group of travelers, but many more unknown visitors to the Chadar.
15. Mainly I wanted to do this because it would allow me to place myself in direct contact with the nature, pulling us out of our usual habitat, very beautiful sceneries everywhere we go. You just point your camera lens at and you have a beautiful picture worth capturing. Days were so uncertain, that I remember one day, it was quite sunny at breakfast, misty in the noon, and snowfall in the evening.
16. Everyday is a rush to reach out camping spot well before nightfall, but at the same time we all deserved to enjoy what God has provided for us, we managed to take out time and peacefully absorb the surroundings in our memories, hence we sometimes departed away from the groups to escape the chaos and to enjoy the views, the peacefulness, the tranquility that we never got in our normal lives back at home.
17. At night there was utter silence in the tents, you could almost hear your own heart beating, and this silence is important sometimes, it really encourages different thoughts that I think is harder when its noisy outside. Its almost like looking into yourself, and starting to focus on potentially those noises that exists inside that you never be able to hear. Hence, I think the soul speaks to us in these silences. In silence you discover yourself and then you begin to notice things that come straight from your heart.
18. On the day we reached the frozen waterfall, the feeling was privileged, exalted, exploding with joy, in moments like these any suffering vanishes completely, but we had our return journey too from the next day.
19. In any journey each one walks at their own pace, so its difficult to stay in a group. We realized we are stronger together than as individuals. In life too, we need to be together in order to be strong, also it is very important who you choose to be together with. This group we had formed at Chadar, there was a sense that we are all there for each other, we were pushing each other’s capabilities at the same time, united as one. We were all learning how to put up with each other and that’s exactly how life is too, to learn to compromise, inspire, push to make it work for both the sides.
20. I also realized the most important thing being here, is that the more I ran away from my own self, the lesser I found peace, because running away from yourself is always a wrong direction, and it isn’t long until it feels disoriented, lost. Now its different because I learnt to accept my flaws and my true self, and everything has changed, because I no longer walk alone, I walk inclined to my soul.
21. Life is all about unpredictable moments, so grab every opportunity you can, take every step you can, go out as much as you can, and there you will find a new person, a new you!
I hope by now all those people out there now have read the reason to their WHYs.