T.Today I am writing to you from a different place. I’m sitting in the middle of a large group of trekking experts, innovators, sustainability champions and trekking documentators. I’m with the entire Indiahikes team. 🙂
For the first time, all of our Trek Leaders have come to Bangalore from the mountains. One by one, they have marched in for the past two days, all pink, sunburned, with big smiles after a successful month of trekking.
We all are in our Bangalore office. Recognize someone? 🙂
We are all gathered here to ponder how the October season went – the challenges, the achievements, the insights.
Although I’ve been working here for almost 6 years, I am still amazed at how deep our conversations about trekking are. All of our conversations revolve around four of our core beliefs that often determine the future of trekking – safety, green trails, The Indiahikes Experience, and our trek information.
But this time I feel a enormously Change in the Indiahikes team.
During the lockdown, we had the luxurious time to reflect on our beliefs and processes over the past 12 years. (Strangely, we haven’t had time to do this in 12 years.)
If I now take a step back and watch, I see that we are going in a new direction. I can even say that we will change how you will see trekking forever.
I know the hikers who hiked with us in October vouch for it. No matter what attitude they came with, every single one of them ended their hike saying they had never imagined trekking this way.
Today I bring thoughts to you in my own little way Indiahikes 2.0.
And I’ll do this by sharing some insight into the differences in October trekking.
Here is a picture of us all. It might surprise you that we’re all sitting here on the floor in a formal meeting, but that’s who we are. Such are our meetings in the mountains and in the office.
How trekking restarted in October
It’s no secret that the coronavirus pandemic completely wiped out the travel industry for almost 8 months. Trekking was hit much worse – it was viewed as totally “negligible”.
When the government eased lockdown restrictions in August, we announced dates for October with great concern. We wanted to start trekking again, but we had a big question mark about whether trekkers would get off at all.
“We were also concerned about organizing walking tours during a pandemic. How would we protect hikers? Could we deliver the new Indiahikes Trek Experience? Can we make sure that trekkers follow Green Trails practices despite the fear of infection? “Shares Sandhya UC, the co-founder of Indiahikes.
With all these worries, we announced trekking dates. But it wasn’t just the dates that we announced. Our core team sat down and created a comprehensive list of 31 security protocols. Not only was this comforting for trekkers, but it also immediately sparked a surge in interest in trekking.
The numbers speak for themselves.
* This graph shows how traffic on our website increased dramatically once we announced trekking dates and our safety protocols.
* The second graph shows a sudden boom in trekking registrations. Of course, it hasn’t (and still hasn’t) reached our previous numbers, but it was a sizable increase.
“When we saw these numbers, we got a lot of confidence that trekkers wanted to go and hike. And then we started our preparations in full swing, ”says Suhas Saya, the leader of our Trek Coordinators team.
How we prepared for the October season
I want to give you a little background here. We didn’t enter the October season like any other time.
The trekking world had been cold for 8 months. Our Trek Leaders were locked up at home. Our mountain personnel had gone back to farming. Many of our transportation and accommodation partners had closed their shops.
Not only that, Indiahikes, like everyone else in the travel industry, had suffered great financial success during the lockdown. Whoever came back to work did so with a cut in wages.
But it wasn’t long before our mountain residents got back to work and got back in touch with our other partners. Our Trek Leaders were also waiting to go outside.
At the end of August our preparations for October began. We booked tickets for all of our Trek Leaders to visit Bangalore for a 14 day training.
Just as the Trek Leaders were all about to visit Bangalore for a training session, tragedy struck.
Our founder was tested COVID positive.
“It was like a big storm hit us. Arjun is usually at the heart of such training programs, ”says Lakshmi Selvakumaran, director of The Indiahikes Experience. “But when we work outdoors, we learn to face these storms. We moved tickets, digitized our entire training program and ran it online, and we’ve been just as successful, ”she adds.
“The training has changed our view of trekking,” says Ravi Ranjan, our slope manager. “By February we took trekkers safely on the hike, enriching their trail experience and bringing them back with a great experience. Hikers would come back happy and satisfied with their experience.
“But this time we had a higher calling. We wanted to bring about an internal transformation among trekkers, ”says Ravi.
This is the difference between Indiahikes
At Indiahikes, we don’t consider trekking a sport. We consider trekking as a journey that affects the mind, body and spirit.
Trekking touches the core of who you are. You take off the mask you wear around town. You are no longer a “team leader” or a “student” or a “colleague”. You are just you. I’m just me
We see extremely intimate moments in which hikers fall to their knees in tears, which is what they experience. Many cry out their hearts.
For many hikers, this is a side of themselves that they have never met. It makes them extremely vulnerable and humble. I am sure you felt it too.
At Indiahikes we have always tried to improve this effect. And we’re going deeper into this journey.
Our Trek Leaders who sat here today told beautiful stories about trekkers. No matter what background they came from, they went home transformed – more confident, more zealous in life, more real, more aware of the world around them. This is an impact that will continue for years to come.
This trekker herself shares her experiences. She was someone extremely worried about resuming her hike after the second day. She almost gave up. But then her whole experience transformed her from within.
Here is another trekker She was so excited about our Green Trails initiative that she came back and organized a cleanup in a park in Mumbai. Some of them have now made sustainability a part of their lifestyle.
Hearing these inspirational stories got me excited again.
I know it’s only been a month since we started trekking again, but my instincts tell me something is on the way basically Change the way you experience trekking.
It will be more powerful, deeper and more transformative. It won’t be like it was before.
I hope you will be a part of it soon.
I would like to hear your thoughts on this. Leave a comment below with your thoughts.