The Mountain Walker Diaries: Finally On the Road

Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India, 6 July 2017, 1430 hours

Don’t look now, but it seems that we are finally on the road, and off on our journey through Himachal.

It was a good three days in Shimla, but we are glad to be on our way. Comfort has a way of making you sedate and then you go into a coma of lethargy and inaction, and then doubts start creeping up, and you find yourself wondering if it’s a good idea to undertake a 18-day long-haul to beat all long hauls, with three little kids in tow? Doubts like: will the little ones be okay at 12,000 feet above sea-level? What about 15,000 feet? What if road conditions are hard? What if each day is a 6-8 hour drive? What if this, what if that … we forget that these are lands with fresh air, fresh water, fresh food produce, gentle and helpful people.

Shimla Walking 21

When we travel with young children, our concerns tend to overwhelm us, some times to the point of becoming inhibitions, and that’s when we have to remind ourselves that travel is an opportunity for the young ones to learn, learn about themselves, about the world, about cultures, about hardships, challenges, overcoming them, stumbling, falling, getting up again … and very importantly: learn about their parents. As a father of three little boys, I have learned that it is one thing to tell them stories of the travels my wife and I have undertaken, the climbs, and the treks, the adventures … and it is quite another thing to let them experience that for themselves. Frankly, some times I forget that they are always watching and learning, and if I let my fears turn me into an over-protective parent who is always inhibiting and cautioning them, that’s what they’ll end up as: hesitant, fearful, inhibited youngsters.

But that’s why one has a better half: to balance us out. And if that doesn’t help at times, we always have the wisdom of the children ready to call our bluff: “But you said you have been walking and climbing since you were three years old! Why can’t I?! Why?! Why?! Hmm?!”

Eventually, we left Shimla at 1130 (we were supposed to leave at 8 am). And so, we are on our way to Sangla. Which is an 8-hour drive, give or take half an hour. And so far, we are holding the peace … well, relatively speaking.

PS: It’s only in a car that you figure out how three little chatterboxes can test your sanity! For the past hour, all I have been saying to them is: “Shut up and look out the window!”

PS 2: But it’s all good. It’s all good.

PS 3: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 … 98, 99.

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