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October 5, 2018 | 2:30 pm
The grade 8s were the first class to head out on their class trip – a five day hike in the Himalayas. It’s a grueling trip that tests their perseverance and builds bonds through shared group experience. This trip is always challenging, but this year there was the added element of water. As soon as we arrived in Dharamshala it started raining, and it didn’t stop for three days! The preparation day in Dharamshala allowed us to test our rain gear and stock up on ponchos. On the first day of the hike we walked through the rain while on the second day we had to rest indoors and wait for the rain to stop before hiking further. Though the rain may not have been included in our plan, it was ultimately perfect. Hiking in the rain definitely tested their chardi kala spirit, and then students made the most of their next rainy day singing songs and playing games.
When it stopped raining we were able to carry on with our plan and hike to Kareri Lake, and from there further up the mountain until we reached snow! We then safely descended the mountain on foot and drove back to Dharamshala, enjoying a great meal together and a little shopping before heading back to Amritsar.
Upon returning from the trip, I read the following passage written by Guru Arjan (SGGS, page 809) that seemed very fitting!
Getting acclimatized in Dharamshala. Eating great food, playing games, visiting the Dalai Lama’s temple and museum, buying ponchos and testing out our gear. We also celebrated Choi’s birthday!
We began our hike 30 minutes outside of Dharamshala. We got out of our cars and straight into the rain. We hiked about six hours to our first destination, a small village with a cement house where we’d be staying overnight. The rain was challenging but the students didn’t have to carry their backpacks. In an effort to keep their things dry we sent their items in cars. We were all soaking wet. Even the plastic bags on our shoes couldn’t keep our feet dry!
On our second day, we stayed in our cement cabin trying to stay warm and waiting for the rain to pass. The students managed to pass an entire day singing songs and playing games. Throughout the trip we enjoyed great food prepared for us by our guides.
We woke up to a beautiful morning and a full day of hiking. Leaving around 10am we arrived at our destination just as the sun was going down. The challenge on this day was just how long of a hike it is and that it’s a steady uphill climb. The students did great and we enjoyed the beautiful and varied scenery.
The fourth day was possibly the most challenging. At this point the air was getting thin and the altitude was affecting us. We’d taken homeopathic medication throughout the trip to help us adjust, but we kept going higher and higher until we reached snow which everyone enjoyed eating. The views were beautiful at this point, and some of the areas were quite steep, requiring us to focus and move slowly. When we returned back to our campsite, we soaked our feet in the fresh water and talked about our experiences, relating what challenges we’d faced and our favourite moments.
The final day of the hike was a welcome relief. We retraced our steps on Day 3, this time going down the mountain. It was much easier, although at this point we were all quite sore. When we arrived back at our cabin we enjoyed a wonderful lunch before driving the rest of the way. Back in Dharamshala we had our first shower in days before enjoying a nice meal together. In the morning we packed up, had breakfast and enjoyed a little bit of shopping before heading back to MPA and joining the rest of the school for evening meditation. It was a great trip that I’m sure we’ll all remember for years to come.