I think about treks a lot these days. Not just those which I want to do, but more of those that I’ve done. I wrote about Donigal, but exactly a year later came the more strenuous one – Kumaraparvatha (KP).
KP was a difficult trek. The distance was longer, the elevation gain was appreciable and we had to carry supplies for 2 days, including camping gear and there were just the 3 of us. Getting down at Somawarpet in Coorg, we had to take a bus which dropped us off close to a village from where we had to trek 10 kms to the peak, reach there by evening, camp for the night and the next day head onwards, descending into Kukke Subrahmanya, another 10 kms. Having had to pass through proper forest area, we had to get ‘permission’ from the forest guards, which just amounted to warnings not to litter or throw plastic. This we had read before and had carried plastic bags just to collect any waste or litter. To their credit the guard on the other side collected our plastic trash to dispose off properly.
After close to 8 hours of trekking and climbing we reached the peak around evening to a bed of clouds below us all around and plastic bags strewn all around at the summit. The return journey saw more vestiges of human intransigence, with objects like beer bottles and more plastic bags being seen strewn around the place.
One thing sacred to any trekker is the trekking spot and the path itself and, seeing it violated is the last thing you want when you are investing so much effort on it. This unwritten code also prohibits taking souvenirs, with the aim being to leave the place as you found it, without leaving any evidence or trace of your having passed through it. The inherent idea is that the place is a paradise by itself and there is nothing you can do to improve it, so the least one can do is go through without changing or destroying anything. This usually also includes keeping a low profile sound-wise, although most people tend to be on the noisier side.
But then, is a trek the way you are expected to lead your life too? Come to this planet, live your life through it, enjoy what you see and experience, but leave no mark on it? Come to think of it, we humans are the only ones who tend to change things to suit our needs.
But then, cribbing about people destroying the planet is not what am getting at. If going through without changing anything is the aim, is that the whole purpose of life? Being driven by natural forces and only reacting to them? Well, except humans all other species do that. And we’ve stopped doing it only for the past 10,000 years maybe. So does that mean there is no purpose to life except to go through it?
Eastern philosophy is more geared towards answering “How to go about life?” rather than “Why am I here?”. Or as the concept of Nirvana says, your sole aim is to get out of the cycle of births – meaning stop getting born here and get the hell out of here. If you think ‘rationally’, we are just life forms that happened. There is no spirit, no soul, no God. So you just happened to be borne out of cells and inherited traits from your parents. Why did you get created? Who is ‘You’? Just the sum of your cells, meant to multiply and then perish at the end of the cycle? But one of the best lines of philosophy is from ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ : The sole purpose of life is to live longer. The more you think about it, the more it sounds right. But then, that’s the thing about different philosophies – the more you think about them, the more they seem right. We never seem to have the time to go deep into them and analyse I guess. But then, why are we thinking about all these things? Do tigers and lions do that? Or did that all happen just because we stopped being hunters and gatherers and got more time to think and the devil’s workshop came into being?
Anyway, pics from KP.