The Road Less Taken

Madhura Athavale, a 27-year-old city-based trekker, remembers a distinct incident in her life about having trekked the difficult route from Torna Fort to Raigad fort. A memory that got her interested into the rough and fresh life in the wild outdoors as a trekker and then later as a trekking guide. Sharing a similar story is 19-year-old Kalyani Kulkarni, whose first brush with trekking came when she went to the Himalayas in 2007. "It was magical. I thought this was something that could be taken up on a weekend basis, which would not just be a good way to connect with nature but in the long run even help others who are interested in it."

Considered to be primarily the forte of men, women trekking guides, are a refreshing change. In fact as Athavale puts it, "It was just something that girls were discouraged from doing earlier as it was an assumption that they had less stamina and would panic under a crisis situation. When I started as a trekker seven years back I used to get worried when it would rain heavily or the routes would be difficult, but it's different now. I have been working as a guide with Girikujar for three years and I don't think that it is a male-dominated field or anything."

However, perfect organisation plays a very important role in their lives when they do go trekking and even as a trek guide. Not only do they ensure that the routes are well -marked in advance but also are very calm and collected in times when nature goes against them. Take the case of first year MBA student, Nupur Nandrekar. Recalling a trek she had undertaken in the Himalayas three years back, she says, "It took me some time to get acclamatised to such harsh environments but now it has become relatively easier. In fact every weekend I volunteer as a guide for forts or temples and caves that people go to in the Konkans and also the Sahayadris."

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