By Bandana Jain
From moments of self-reflection to devouring invigorating sights from the summit, Lulua Ahsan, a passionate trekker vouches for the countless, intangible benefits of trekking for the body, mind and soul.
What inspired you to start trekking?
Born and brought up in the city of Udaipur, in India, I have grown up running up and down the hills without any hiking shoes or hiking gears. I was always fascinated by mountains and wildlife. My dad’s friend who worked in the forest department used to invite us for overnight picnics every weekend to Dak Bungalows in forests of Jhadol, Kaya, Barapaal, to name a few. The best pastime for me and my cousins was to trek in nearby hillocks to collect colorful pebbles of various shapes and sizes, catch butterflies with amazing patterns or simply racing down the hill.
After marriage I moved to UAE only too pleased to discover places like Hatta and Ras al Khaimah to trek every weekend. I also joined a few hiking groups. Ever since, I have been hiking to several places in and around UAE.
How often do you trek and where?
I go for weekend hikes during cooler months in UAE, where I have hiked in the areas of Wadi Helo, Hatta pools, Wadi Hayl etc in Hajjar mountain range near Oman-Hatta border. I have also hiked in Wadi Shab, Wadi Bani Khalid and Jebel Shams in Oman. I try to go for trekking in Himalayas atleast twice a year. I’ve trekked in Rhododendron forest of Singalila mountain range (3,200 m) in Sikkim in India. I’ve also been hiking to many hillocks in Aravali mountain range near my hometown in Udaipur to Kumbhalgarh Fort, Neemach Mata Temple, Machla Magra to name a few. Last year, I took the opportunity to hike to Mt. Schmittenhohe (1,965 m) in Zell am see, Austria, which was an amazing experience.
Which has been the most memorable one and why?
My latest trek to Kedarkantha peak (3,820m) in Uttarakhand, India was particularly memorable. It was rather cold and acclimatizing to the sub-zero temperatures was proving challenging and to add to the difficulty, we encountered snowfall on the last day. However, it was the first time that I experienced snowfall in my life. I can still feel the soft snow falling against my cheeks.
What would you say about trekking in UAE and Oman?
UAE and Oman are trekkers’ paradise, the Hajjar mountain range providing great trekking opportunities for hikers of all age groups. I remember my trek to the Fossil Rock (or the Camel Rock) in Maleiha desert. It was an amazing experience walking in sand for almost an hour and then rock climbing to reach the top of Camel rock. I met lot of like -minded hikers and enjoyed their company.
Any memorable trekking moment…
During a hike to Wadi Hayl in Fujairah, in Aug 2014, we lost our way. The heat was becoming unbearable. So, we divided into two groups of eight each to find our way back to the Fort Hayl. It took almost three hours for us to trace our way back to the Fort. I was totally dehydrated and suffered acute headache with not a single tree in sight, but it was because of support of my team members, particularly Russel, Vijay and Hansraj that brought me back to Fort Hayl alive! We were all strangers to each other, yet the spirit of camaraderie was something which I shall remember for lifetime!
How would you like to inspire others to take up trekking?
The world of trekking has endless benefits for everyone. There’s a lot of positive energy in trekking that helps one to lead a healthy life. Trekking teaches life lessons of joy, compassion, spirituality, love and sacrifice. If one wants to discover inner self, trekking is the way to go!
How has trekking changed you as a person?
Reaching the summit brings about great sense of self- worth and confidence. The lovely views from the summit give a different perspective to life. My time in mountains gives me time to introspect, as a result of which, I’ve become stronger physically and mentally, compassionate and overall, a better human being. I also refrain from any unnecessary wastage of food and water. The small joys of daily life and good health have become more important to me. I have resorted to a healthier and more disciplined lifestyle with regular yoga and exercise, nutritious food, adequate sleep and keeping weight under check so that I can continue trekking for years to come.
About the author
Bandana Jain is an independent journalist and reporter with over sixteen years of experience. She specialises in travel, art, health, fitness and lifestyle. Her forte lies in interviewing eminent personalities from different fields.Bandana also models for photo shoots and commercials and strongly believes in giving back to the society. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org