Hiking trips are generally for the adventurous, but for Dr. Om Manchanda, Managing Director, Dr Lal PathLabs, they are more of a spiritual experience. "I love to feel and hear the sound of nature. I go to mountains to bask in the glory of scenic places. There is something about landscapes at high latitudes? it feels blissful being there," he says.
Manchanda's first hiking tour was as a 17-year-old to Milam Glacier, in the Kumaon Himalayas in Uttarakhand, in 1982. "I was a member of the college's mountaineering club," he says. After a long break, he revived his passion around 10 years ago, and has been on a hiking trip every year since then. "I love to hike on the Alps. I have been to Italy, Slovenia, Scotland and lot of tracks in the Himalayas."
Even though these trips start in groups, after a few kilometres, you are on your own. "You get into the rhythm of going up and up for eight-nine hours. You have a goal of reaching your destination. You are in the forest. You cannot go back. Hiking teaches you perseverance." It also provides lessons in camaraderie and concentration. "There is no one-upmanship in hiking. Your group mates are not your competitors. The entire group has to reach its destination. It is teamwork."
"You are hiking around narrow tracks and deep valleys around you. A bit of lapse in concentration and you will be gone," he adds.