Rishikesh: Partake in the thrill of adventure

A 10-year-old writes about how she got her fix from adventure
Among other outdoor sports, skills of participants of the Himalayan Adventure Challenge are tested in white water rafting(Shutterstock)
Among other outdoor sports, skills of participants of the Himalayan Adventure Challenge are tested in white water rafting(Shutterstock)
Updated on Nov 10, 2019 12:04 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByKaavya Mukherjee Saha

After weeks of training and anticipation, the Himalayan Adventure Challenge was finally here.

The challenge was broken up into segments to suit everyone’s fitness levels and temperament. Children (accompanied by adults) were only allowed to enter the 10 km Open Challenge with teams of four to six covering five km by white water rafting and the other five km as a hike. So this was the category we chose. This was going to be our Goliath!

Our breakfast consisted of fluffy pancakes and a variety of eggs, but there were more butterflies in our stomachs than food. Frantically turning over the information from the previous day’s orientation in our minds, we readied ourselves for a long day. Our van stopped in front of a tiny trail leading to the beach and we stumbled down to the river. We huddled in groups, strategising and assuring each other that we’d win.

Get set go

Our team consisted of my father, my brother who was 12 years old, my friends who were 10 and 12 years old, and me. I am 10 years old. It had not been easy to find a race where we could participate together and this was the ideal opportunity for us. Eager to win, all the teams scrambled into their rafts, breathing prayers and pleas. Ironically, we had to conquer our fears on the holy Ganga.

Eager to win, all the teams scrambled into their rafts.... Ironically, we had to conquer our fears on the holy Ganga!

We competed with 10 other teams of children and adults equally eager to win. Our oars rhythmically slapped again the rapids as we propelled forward to the finishing line. Despite being occupied with our struggle to get to the shore, we took in the breathtaking scenery around us. Away from Delhi’s toxic air, the enchanting Himalayas around us were intoxicating. We were jolted out of our daydreams by an approaching raft carrying my mother and her friends. Now we pulled harder, chanting to rally ourselves. The atmosphere was electric.

Once we reached the shore, everyone raced to their shoes. We needed to start our five km trek. Our teammates took off, but my father and I fell behind. However tired we were, the thrill of the race had our adrenalin pumping. We first trekked uphill, then we cut through colourful villages. The last bit was all downhill, but not easy. We had to descend sheer cliffs going down to the Ganga below. It was steep and we had to watch our step. But I did not feel scared or alone because I was doing this with my family and friends.

The great escape

The author (second from left) with her brother Arhaan, 12, and her corporate lawyer parents Madhurima Mukherjee and Gautam Saha
The author (second from left) with her brother Arhaan, 12, and her corporate lawyer parents Madhurima Mukherjee and Gautam Saha

The trail took us alongside the river to an almost perfect finish point. I let my aching lungs breathe. I twiddled with my medal as cameras clicked. After some noodles and masala chai from a local stall, I swore the Himalayan Adventure Challenge was going to be my annual trip.

After finishing the race, I was flooded with a sense of accomplishment. Not only because my team had won but because I hadn’t given up.

After this hair-rasing experience I was glad to go home. But I wasn’t excited about the smoke and dirt that would meet us there.

I live in a city where we grow up with toxic air, lots of devices, small houses and limited time. The Himalayan Adventure Challenge is my great escape.

The author, 10, was in Class 5 when she participated in this adventure race for the first time last year. Her parents have competed in the Himalayan Adventure Challenge three times.

From HT Brunch, November 10, 2019

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