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Monday, 29 August 2011


There was a huge rush for the Bhimashankar trek. So we were dissuading new members from joining that one. One such new member had called to join and I invited the person to join us for the kids trek.

It would be so much fun to see kids enjoying in the midst of nature. The response was something I never expected. Kids Trek - I dont want to come for a kids trek. I would rather do something tough.

Again during earlier treks, I realised some people didnt come as they thought the trek was "nalla" (too easy). It was below their dignity to do treks that were perceived as easy.

There are others who made comments like "I have been there before. Dont want to go there again"

In my experience of around 20 years of trekking, I have seen that every time I went for a trek the experience was unique. Every time the route had changed slightly and nature had its own ways to show its complexities.

There were tough treks that I have done easily without any hiccups while there were some easy treks that I have not been able to complete.

There have been very tricky stretches which I have crossed without any problems while I have slipped and fallen at the easiest of stretches.

Due to my dialysis, I might have more constraints physically than others, but I have observed these kind of behaviour with others as well.

Whether a trek is "difficult" or " easy" a certain level of concentration and focus is required. The mind needs to be conditioned to ensure that whatever the terrain one must have a firm footing.

Nature is beautiful and its beauty manifests itself in unique ways everytime we visit a place. Its not only about the sights, but the climate, the terrain and even the condition of our body and mind that makes it unique everytime.

In fact even nature has its own mind. Its all powerful. Imagine how long the mountains have been standing there. Imagine how it has the power to bear the flowing water, all the plants, the trees, the wild animals, and the whole ecosystem that sustains itself.

We are in fact a part of this ecosystem.

Treks are a beautiful way to observe how we are just a part of this ecosystem and how our bodies and minds and everything fits beautifully into the scheme of nature.

We are just one small part of the jigsaw puzzle. This part of nature is the most enjoyable. This is what treks give us an opportunity to realise and keep reinforcing.

Who are we to call a trek as "nalla" ?

You must be kidding !

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Ash - winner

Ashwin Hemmad and myself grew up together. When I was active in the KSA he wasnt that active in organising events. However, his talent was there for all to see. He was brilliant on stage and whenever given an opportunity he proved himself.

But when he moved to a new place after marriage, we were not so much in touch and barely even got to speak to each other.

When the kids trek was being planned, I spoke to Ashwin and invited him to join us with his elder one. He readily agreed. Then after a couple of days he called asking whether he could get his 3 year old son along. We had stipulated an age limit of 5 years but we had taken 3 year olds in an earlier trek to the same destination. I did mention that there would be stretches that would be a bit tricky but some experienced trekkers from V Hikerz would be around and we would be able to manage.

I knew for sure that Rajesh and Ananth would be around and I could bank on them.

Further Ashwin lives in Borivali. Our regulars from that side were not joining and we needed someone to co-ordinate the bus from the starting point to the end. I spoke to Ashwin and he readily agreed. This was despite the fact that he knew no one whom he was supposed to pick up. He had not even spoken to them !

This spirit was really touching and the way he went about contacting everyone and coordinating with us despite celebrating his son's third birthday the previous evening was exemplary. Even during the trek when their son was finding it difficult to cross some stretches, he never lost his enthusiasm and completed the trek.

Personally, I feel that without his participation the Kids trek would not have been such a great success that it has been. He was a winner all the way !

V hope that the trekking "keeda" has gotten into him and he would continue to join us regularly for treks.

The least it could do is get back in touch with an old friend !

Friday, 26 August 2011

The Kids Trek

Yes, we had a good number. 13 kids and adults that added upto 34. This was despite the last minute cancellations.

For the convenience of the kids we had booked 2 buses one from the suburbs and another from Mumbai. This was one of the best co-ordinated efforts from the V Hikerz organising group and kudos to all who helped manage this huge exercise.

We started slightly behind schedule but there were no hiccups on the journey. The kids enjoyed all the way to the base point and had already become pals by the time we reached. The introduction session was reduced to just a formality or maybe for the adults to get to know the names of the kids.

After breakfast we started the trek. Kids enjoyed checking out Imus at the farm on the way, they really enjoyed splashing water at each other in the rivulets on the way. The parents were getting a bit tired along the way but the kids led the way. Even our V Hikerz regulars leading the way had to do a bit to catch up with the kids.

At every step the kids had a gala time.

When we reached the waterfall it was even more exciting. Since it was a first time experience for them, they had to be led into the waterfall. But once they got in nothing could stop them. They got wet without anyone to stop them, started jumping and shouting !

Some of the parents simply rested at the rivulet at the base of the waterfall, preferring to sit out in the flowing water with their feet stretched.

Nothing to stop the children though !!

It was a wonderful experience. The sight of kids enjoying the waterfall was the high pointof the trek. It was a feeling of great joy, of an experiment that had worked - with flying colours !

The icing on the cake was when on the way back a couple of kids told me. "I Love Treks"

YES "All of us love treks"

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Kids Trek - An Unique Event

When we were kids we grew up in the comfort of home. We were so engrossed in our studies and other "extracurricular activities" that we never really got an opportunity to check out nature. Whats there outside this concrete jungle was unknown to us.

When I started trekking, I discovered the beauty. The fun. The fascinating experience of interacting with nature had me floored.

I have been taking lots of friends for treks and such beautiful places for so many years now. Only once we took kids for a trek and the experience was so awesome.

Kids were feeling so good about trees all around, they had fun playing in flowing water. Crossing streams was also something that they relished doing.

When one of them asked me how they could use the water, one of us prompted them to sit with their feet in the water, wash their faces and one of them even tasted the water where it was clean. (Flowing water is normally potable)

Every moment for them was unique and they seemed to make the most of the day, rather every moment.

We could see the wonder on their faces as they checked out different types of trees, leaves, flowers and even rocks with their unique contours and crevices.

It was a world totally different from that they were living in. It was a world that had nothing artificial, nothing with a mask on it and which prompted them to come into their own.

Their natural selves !!

Then we thought why not do something in a planned manner. And here we go ! V Hikerz are now organising a kids trek on 21st August to Kondana Caves. We are also trying to get along a naturalist who can explain plant families etc to the kids. The idea is to expose them to nature, its beauty and get fascinated by it.

I dont know how many parents will get along their kids for the event or how the whole event would materialise, but our efforts will be to make it a grand success !!

God Willing it will be !!!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Experiments with Sodium Control

When I started on dialysis I studied the process and realised that it was a chemical process along with drawing excess fluid out of the body. The incidence of hypotension/ hypoglycaemia etc was giving me lots of question marks. Once I happened to ask the dialysis technician on what settings he makes in the machine while starting the process and he told me about the sodium etc. I understood that a combination of sodium and fluid levels in the body result in hypotension. In my case since I am a trekker it is even more critical to understand how it works. I tried various combinations and activities and basis that this is some of the results that I have arrived at.

Sodium is a very important electrolyte in our body. It is also an important component of our food. For those on dialysis and specifically those who dont pass any urine, it is critical to control sodium levels in the blood.

For those who live an active life it is even more important. I have tried a lot of combinations in my case ( at times risky but got away with it) and today I am in a position to maybe list what would work in most cases. This is a thumb rule and would therefore change from person to person.

The logic behind the same is basically how much of sweat is expected to be lost from the body during the time before the next round of dialysis.

The more the amount of sweat expected the more sodium that is expected to be lost. This would also be a balance between the fluid loss and sodium loss.

Typically when there is expected to be a higher loss of fluid / sodium (typically before a difficult trek) the sodium that works best for me is around 138-139. In the peak of summer as well (we dont normally trek during the peak of summer) this is the case. If its a long trek then maybe 140.

On other occasions, the best sodium level that works for me is around 136-137

In winter 136 works best.

Winter treks mean same amount of sweat and sodium loss so just before a winter trek the best level would be around 139

So during the process of dialysis the range of Sodium can be kept at around 136-140 depending on the amount of sodium/fluid loss that is expected to happen before the next cycle of dialysis.

This would however vary on body weight and the propensity to consume foods with sodium content during the intra cycle days.

I guess each dialysor should study such tendencies in their individual cases and understand how sodium control during dialysis helps in living a life that is more active and hence more meaningful.

Finally, its all about making life meaningful !!


Kohoj was a trek that someone else from the group was supposed to lead. However the member was extremely busy and expressed inability to take it up.

Kohoj was a place I really wanted to go to. The last time I went, I had abandoned just after starting the trek due to low BP which hurt. So despite a very heavy schedule I took it up. This was a place I really wanted to see !

This time I took care. I kept my dry weight a bit above what I normally do. During dialysis, I had adjusted the sodium to around 140 (normally keep at 137-138 depending on weather).

We were only 5 of us this time. So after a long time a V Hikerz trek didnt go in a mini bus but a smaller vehicle. It was pouring and the traffic on the highway was moving really slowly.

What would normally take us 2 hours to cover took us almost 5 hours. We had stopped for breakfast though on the way.

We started the trek at 945 am, it was really pouring. When we started the trek the villagers warned us not to go, but we had come all the way (travelled for 5 hours) and were not going to give up so soon.

We crossed the fields and reached the point from where the lake looked beautiful.

In a repeat of the Nakhind trek, I spotted at least 3 snakes on the way, one of which was seen by the whole group.

We went around the lake and were looking for a route to go to the other side when we realised that the dam was overflowing and we had to wade through almost waist deep water. Wow the Adventure had started.

We slowly made our way to the other side of the dam. There was a villager who guided us on how to get to the other side. (The route was submerged and the other areas were deeper)

The trek started. It was an easy gradient at first but water was flowing all the time. We were walking in water that was half way to our knees. The ground beneath was not visible and hence it was tough to see where to put our next foot. Hence we were going slow. It was still raining very heavily and the water flow was ever increasing.

There were river crossings in between that added to the thrill. We kept going and the way got steeper and the force of the water faster. It was like we were climbing against a waterfall. The image of the route is shared above. We climbed through that kind of route.

At around 1 pm we were hungry and stopped for a snack, there was no signs of the rain abating and the force of the water was ever increasing. We were worried about being stranded in the jungle if the water level in the dam got beyond a certain level. We decided to go back without completing the trek.

On the way back we lost our way once, though very soon we were able to find the route and complete the trek. Luckily the rains also abated and we had to encounter knee deep water in the dam.

On our return, we were met with a horde of relieved villagers. They narrated how the last weekend, they had to send a rescue party late at night to help trekkers who had got lost in the dense jungle.

We were relieved as well !!

When we were eating, I personally was worried how we would get back basically due to the rains.

We were back to the village and on our way home.

Home and wet !!