We’re getting ready to take a group trekking so I thought I’d share a little more about what trekking with us looks like.
As an American, trekking was not a word I commonly used prior to moving to India. Instead I used the words hiking and camping. To me, trekking sounded much more adventurous and well beyond mere outdoor recreation. The dictionary on my computer defines a trek as a long arduous journey and then gives the example “a trek to the South Pole.”
In Kashmir I learned that people use the word trekking more generously to describe activities like hiking/camping as well as more serious mountain adventures. In fact, the style of trekking that we typically offer through FT&T India is definitely up a notch on the comfort scale from what most Americans think of when they imagine hiking in the Himalayas.
First of all, the trekking that we do in Kashmir should not be considered backpacking. All you need to carry on your back is a daypack with your water, snacks, rain gear, and camera. The rest of your stuff (tent, sleeping bag, extra clothes, etc.) gets loaded on top of a pony. We hire pony wallahs (the guys in the charge of the ponies) to come with us for the trek and carry all of the equipment. There’s also the option to hire 1 or 2 extra ponies for riding if any of our participants want to try that out. We aren’t the only ones doing this. That’s basically the standard practice for trekking in Kashmir.
In addition to the sleeping tents we provide, we also bring along a dining tent and kitchen tent (as well as a cook)! We made both of these tents locally using material found in Srinagar and then we hired an excellent tailor who normally makes clothes to stitch the tents together.
Our groups always enjoy the hot meals, fresh fruit, and soothing chai that our cook provides throughout the trek. The dining tent also makes a wonderful place to stretch out and relax after a day’s hike or to enjoy a game of cards together.
Kashmir certainly can offer challenging treks which fit into the long arduous journey definition. But it also can offer relaxing treks that allow you to conserve some energy and take your time appreciating all of the beauty around you.