Mountains have been fascinating almost everyone these days. Call it a trend or a growing passion among the youth especially, the fact cannot be denied that more people are getting attracted to the mountains like never before. And when the word Mountains come, Indiahikes comes along with it!
There is no one to tell the stories of the Mountains better than one of The Best Trek Leader from the Best Trek Managers. This is the story of Trek Leader Dushyant Sharma who has been an inspiration to many. A conversation with a corporate turned Himalayan, an exchange of ideas with a man so fit and energetic!
Prabhat: I will start with the very primary and important question that everybody wants to know. What kind of life you were leading before being a trek leader?
Dushyant: I am born and brought up in Delhi. Before joining Indiahikes I was working in Delhi with Sapient. I worked as an HR for a year and then I moved to admin for 2 years. I was living my regular life, working from Monday to Friday, and then spending weekends with family and friends. For me, it was a very monotonous life in which I was not able to grow beyond what was offered to me. Of course, I had learned a lot but this was the kind of life I lived. This was about my work.
Before this, I did my Bachelor of Business Administration from Delhi itself. I was always very sporty. I was into swimming, badminton, cricket. Outdoor always attracted me. Sports always fascinated me, but after doing my graduation I was aware of the fact that we have to earn bread and butter for the family as well. That’s how I ended up working for three years with Sapient.
Prabhat: So how did you shift from this kind of stagnant and redundant life to such an exciting life?
Dushyant: I think this was quite before 2011 while I was working with Sapient. I started to get the feeling that this is not where I belong. Before getting into the adventure field, I started to look for other opportunities if I could do something else. Something different than Bachelors of Business Administration, I tried for photography, fashion designing, law. I also thought of getting back to swimming since I liked it. I thought of diving. I literally gave many exams to join gymnastics, be a diver, a photographer. But nothing worked. To be very honest, I am glad that it didn’t work out for me!
In 2011, I went for my first trek which was not planned. My friend asked me whether I have been to Mcleodganj. I said yes, I have been there. Ask me to go and try this place Triund. You just have to walk a little. I didn’t even know what was trekking. So I thought I’d see what the place is and I was too much fascinated about it, to go and see.
So with two of my school friends, we planned to go to Triund. To be very honest, with very little preparation since I was not into fitness and I was just working, we hired a local guide and we started our trek. Prabhat you can’t imagine, we didn’t even have proper backpacks and we were carrying duffel bags in our hands. All three of us had just one water bottle and we had no clue about how to trek, how to take rest. Thought it is very close and we will easily do it since I was 21 I was energized and fully excited.
But in a matter of hardly 15 to 20 minutes, it could be seen on our face. We started breathing heavily. Since we were childhood friends, nobody was ready to back out. So all of us kept pushing. For every half kilometer, we used to take breaks have some water catch a breath and I think the guide was also frustrated with us. So somehow we managed to reach Triund. Triund is a day hike that you can start in the morning and come back in the evening. We met many people on the way who were telling us that we started in the morning and now we are going back. After watching them we were like, Is it even possible?
Finally, somehow we reached slowly and I was very happy that we finally made it. When we sat at that spot and in the evening when the sky cleared up I was like my God! Behind me was the Dhauladhar mountain range and the Indrahar pass. And Ahead Of Me was the most beautiful sunset I have ever witnessed ever in my life. You know when you put so much effort into something you are struggling for life and in the end, when you make it to the top, you end up with the belief that you can do it. The sight of such a beautiful sunset was a cherry on the top!
This one trek triggered me that I want to get into the outdoor. It took me three more years to actually get into the outdoor. But it gave me an idea that if I have to do something, Let me start it with hiking, start travelling more. Of course, there is a lot more to this story but this is 20% of my journey.
Prabhat: That sounds amazing! I would like to tell you that I also have a similar kind of experience from Triund. So I can also relate to it since it was also my first trek. And the sunset you are talking about gave me the best picture of my life.
Everybody has a perception of the mountains. Some people like to spend their holidays in the mountains and some love to .spend their life. How do you look at it and what is your perception about the mountains?
Dushyant: Initially when I used to travel to the mountains, it would be very leisurely. We would go roam around and see what is there in the mountains casually. Lately, I realized that there is a lot more than what we see. Of course, every mountain has a speciality every slope, every ridge, every meadow. It has something to offer to you. It was two-sided for me.
First was, of course, to be in this beautiful place, to see the mountains, the landscape, the Himalayas. But getting to know the Himalayas closely, the people of Himalayas, what do they eat, what do they follow, how do they live. The most amazing thing was the changes that I could see every month, the cycle of the mountains. So that was the one reason behind going to the mountains again and again.
And the second thing was to know me better and talking to the other people. When you talk to the other people you learn something, you meet people from different walks of life. Not only the people coming from Different cities different countries but also the local people, and every interaction teaches you something. So I think it was much beyond what I used to do initially. You chill out with your friends you go to the hotel you go to the mall road and come back you go to a point and come back.
But to go to the mountains to go to the wilderness is the best part of it and this is my reason this is my calling.
Prabhat: Most important thing, the fitness that is needed to be able to survive in the mountains. How do you manage to be so fit? Tell something about your 5 a.m. routine.
Dushyant: I think this also begins from the mountains itself. When I went for the basic Mountaineering course, on the first day itself when the course starts, we have to go to the physical training session in the morning. All of us were charged on day one. 7 o’clock the training started.
I am not joking Prabhat I was looking at my watch and I was playing please God end this right now! I was miserable. Somehow I managed to complete the 1 hour of training I thought I’m done with the entire Mountaineering course in the first session itself. After the last exercise when the instructor asked to stand up, just fainted.
The instructor came to me and asked are you done and this is when I got the reality check. Later I started enjoying the course and this is when I started to run a lot. They will make you run every single day. During the last session, there was a marathon of 7 kilometers. I was clear in my mind that I want to run this race at any cost and I did it. I came 14th and I was more than happy that I was able to complete it. This was the point when I realized how important it is to be fit if you want to be able to do any adventure activity in the mountains. Thanks to my instructors. I made it a point that when I have to go to the mountains, I do my run 5kms no matter what.
It’s almost 6 years now that I have been running. And after spending this much time in the mountains, I have learned how to stay fit! I keep shifting from one activity to the other to make sure that all my joints are keeping well.
Prabhat: That’s really amazing! I really want people to follow you on Instagram and get some inspiration. Dushyant, you must have done countless treks till now, have you ever felt like giving up on any of your treks?
Dushyant: Apart from a bad headache, AMS body pain, this feeling came to me. Dushyant why are you running this much? I had my own reasons for this related to the family. I wanted to come back to the city, wanted to write my GMAT. I also practiced for it. And then I remembered why I started living in the outdoors, realized that I am already living in a happy place. A place very close to nature, this is where I am happier and more productive. And then I came back from the city to the mountains.
Prabhat: This is so inspiring! Dushyant, there are many trek management companies in India. Why did you choose INDIAHIKES?
Dushyant: From my Basic mountaineering course to my Advance Mountaineering course, I didn’t know about any such companies. In Advanced course one of my coursemates told me that he was going to work with an organization named Indiahikes in December of that year. This was the first time I got to hear about Indiahikes. When I started exploring Indiahikes on the internet, it was looking very reliable as compared to the others. Each and every information was available on their website. A very close friend of mine told me that Indiahikes is very good and very safe. It was December 2014 when I applied for Indiahikes. It was very clear that I will only apply for Indiahikes unless rejected.
After waiting for 3 months, I got a call from Indiahikes and this is how my journey started. But to be very honest, I never applied for any other organization except Indiahikes.
Prabhat: How is life at Indiahikes after these many years of experience?
Dushyant: Life has been very amazing. It was a roller-coaster ride for me to be very honest with a lot of ups and downs. In my career as a trek leader, I have done many successful treks but at the same time, I have seen many downfalls as well. I have been out of the team, I have been the leader of the Trek leaders, currently, I am working in the content.
I think for me, it has been a very beautiful journey. It has been the longest that I have worked somewhere. It’s the people, culture, and the values of the organization that are not letting me go. And I take pride in telling this to people that this is how we work! Off-course it has given me the platform to work in the outdoors. I am really thankful to the team members at Indiahikes.
Prabhat: Indiahikes has been special to me as well! One day I accidentally landed on the homepage of Indiahikes, and this is when my fascination started for the Himalayas.
Dushyant, we all know that these days people are littering the mountains like never before. How do you address this issue? Tell us something about Green Trail Initiative of Indiahikes.
Dushyant: In the past 5 years, I have seen the Initiative growing exponentially. The credit goes to the team and all our trekkers. When we started it, we would educate all our trekkers about the green trails. But after cleaning the mountains for 2 years, we realized that the problem is much bigger than what we see. Because we were cleaning, but what about the people who were bringing the litter to the mountains? For how long Indiahikes will clean it?
We started to discuss this a lot. We started digging the garbage deep to do a survey of what this litter is full of. Then we started to educate people through videos, articles. Whatever you bring with you in the mountains, just take it back along with you. But then we realized that just littering isn’t the problem, human waste is a problem too, segregation is a problem. The problem is much bigger.
Our trekkers, take their waste back also and dispose of it all. We have come to a point where we started sustainable trekking. We also take measures to ensure that human waste is decomposed properly. We ensure that the place is restored back to its natural state. I think the team has done a brilliant job. Lakshmi, Neha are the big names that changed the green trails completely.
Prabhat: Amazing! This is something that everyone needs to understand that this is completely disturbing the ecosystem of the mountains itself. So it’s going to be a huge challenge for all of us to spread awareness.
Dushyant: I would like to say this thing very seriously to all those who are planning a trek to the mountains. Please plan it very sustainably. You should all avoid packaged food. This will need a conscious effort to cut down the amount of waste that is generated. You can contact the Indiahikes team regarding how to plan your trek, watch our videos on YouTube.
Time for a Rapid Fire!
Prabhat: Which one is your favorite trek?
Dushyant: Har ki Dun. All-time favorite trek for all seasons.
Prabhat: Best summer trek?
Prabhat: Why Roopkund?
Dushyant: It is the most majestic trek considering Asia’s largest meadow ‘Ali Bedni Bugyal’. Each place, each rock has a story behind it. Apart from that, the sunset from Bhagwabasa camp is one of the best sunsets. And of course the mysterious Roopkund lake. Also, you can see mighty Mount Trishul and Nanda Ghunti.
Prabhat: Best monsoon trek?
Dushyant: Kashmir Great lake trek
Prabhat: Best snow trek
Dushyant: Such a difficult question. It is very difficult to pick one. But I would say Kedarkantha.
Prabhat: The most evergreen trek among all treks?
Dushyant: Pin Bhabha
Prabhat: If someone wants to be a Trek leader like The Dushyant Sharma, what he/she is supposed to do?
Dushyant: I would say, if someone wants to be a trek leader, then just be you! Off-course we look-up to some people because of their certain qualities, because they could be inspiring, they could be funny, they could be very knowledgeable. But I think each one of us has our own strong area. I think that’s where we have to work hard. You can ask me if you want to be a trek leader, I will guide you and after that, you can pick your own style.
Prabhat: I really want people to take inspiration from you and start living a life of choice. Anything else from your side? I would really love to join you on a trek! Thanks for being such an inspirational personality!
Dushyant: I will be glad to join you on a trek that I will be leading! Thanks to you that you gave me this opportunity to talk about the mountains. Because I really like to have such a conversation and share what I learned for these many years.
My special regards to your entire team at The Equator for such a wonderful job.
Prabhat: Thanks a lot Dushyant for your time and every experience that you have shared with our readers