Its amazing how seemingly normal, otherwise-well-rounded people (yours truly included) find their way into physically taxing sports? Of course, there will always be those mysteries of nature who can burn up endless calories without even trying. But where does the rest of the pack come from? Say, how does an individual decide that doing push-ups for all 24-hours or swimming some incredible distance is something that they might be good at”? Or even scarier, how do they say – “Hey, that might be fun!!.” I’ve ask myself this question before. I feel like I can trace it all back to one mid morning hour when I was 16. I was at Rajmachi near Lonavala at an adventure camp. My mum, for want of other options to keep me occupied in the summer holiday months, had enrolled me in one. They promised activities like river crossing, rifle shooting, rappelling, rock climbing, zumaring, and finally a wilderness cooking experience.
The course was well planned as was each day at the camp. We had reached Rajmachi the previous night and were up early the next day. The whole day was dedicated to orient us with the rules, activities, facilities and the camp setting. Acclimatization was through an early morning 3 hour hike up the mountain next to the camp. That was to be followed by an rock climbing session.
I remember struggling up the ridge at about 6.30 a.m. Our suffering soon started to slip into audible abuse. After several long minutes of groans and grumbles, we all just stopped. Cut to silence and we looked at each other. I could see in the eyes of the other hikers the dead-end fatigue I felt in myself. I glanced up trail. The instructors words of encouragement fell on deaf ears. The ridge was no more than a half an hour away – and beyond that I imagined the wind-blasted ridge line, the final assault to the peak, and the inevitable sunrise over the valley. And so I said to no one in general, “Well, the hard part’s over now. It’s all mental from here.” Somehow, I talked myself into believing that. The rest were too tired to argue or did not understand what I meant. So we marched ahead keeping each other company and terrified of being left behind.
At the peak, we were treated to piping hot tea and glucose biscuits. I sat beside ledge and watched wisps of pink clouds as morning arrived. The horizon was crimson. In the new clarity of daylight, I had a bewildering view of what seemed to be hundreds of little peaks jutting out from the valley randomly. I wanted to climb them all. And even stranger, I thought as I sipped tea, I wanted to start that second, from where I was. I wanted to climb the next peak, and then the next. As exhausted as I knew I was, I craved some sort of journey into the known unknown that had so suddenly revealed itself.
I think that’s when I knew.
What’s your story?