Date posted: 15/05/2017 | Posted by: Jeannie Richardson
From the 20th to 30th April 2017, as a challenge in order to raise funds for service users at Cintre for them to gain further opportunities to improve their own health and fitness and promote physical and mental health, wellbeing, Richard Luck undertook a “Dalai Lama Trekking Challenge” in North India.
Due to the kind and generous pledges received over a 9 month period leading up to April 20th, I initially met the group of fellow fundraisers, at Heathrow Airport. Our group of 16 comprised a diverse range of folk, who came from all walks of life, but with one common aim of completing the challenge in order to support their chosen charity.
We all got on well and gelled as a team from the outset, and with much anticipation, nervousness and excitement, arrived in Delhi on the 21st April.
From there, we took some time to orientate ourselves during the first afternoon, before setting off to Delhi Old Train Station for an overnight sleeper train to Pathankot. I must say, the experience of Delhi Old Train Station was unique – a great deal of poverty and hardship which moved everybody in the group. A humbling experience.
From our over night train journey to Pathankot, we then made our way via car to Dharamsala (which is located in the foothills of the Himalayas). We spent one evening in Dharamsala (also visiting the home of the Dalai Lama) before setting off on foot, embarking on the trek itself.
For the first day, we covered a distance of around 14 km, trekking from Dharamsala to Kareri Village where we set up camp in a lovely meadow next to the Laund River. After a day of gruelling trekking, uphill, in high temperatures, the sight of a river to jump in was a joy at the end of our day. I was also delighted to see the camp set up in advance, as we were fortunate to have a wonderful team of local sherpas who both organised our camp as well as organising safe drinking water and catering throughout.
The following day, we moved on from Kareri to Bal Village where we were able to take in the spectacular mountain views. Again, we camped in a spot next to a rushing river which again was a welcome sight, after a trekking distance of over 15km.
On day three of the trek, we began by crossing a bridge, then taking a steep ascent through Rhododendron and pine forests and passing Gaddi people who – on a daily basis – take their cattle to the high pastures. We then camped in the most amazing spot called Triund which was high up (at over 10,000 feet) on an alpine meadow, facing snow-capped peaks of the Dhauladahr range.
On day four, we embarked on our final ascent, where we had the opportunity to push on to see the fascinating Laka Got, situated at the tip of a glacier. Following the final push to the top, we returned for a second night at our spot in Triund.
On day five, we then walked down “Moon Peak”, the mountain we had reached during our trekking challenge.
Just prior to the descent, one of the group unfortunately twisted an ankle. Not good, as you can imagine at over 10,000 feet!
However, one of the sherpas came to the rescue and the fellow trekker was carried down! – an amazing act for which everybody was deeply moved.
On returning to Dharamsala, we all shared a well-deserved celebratory meal and night which was put on by our local trek organiser. It was also an amazing experience to have hot running water, and beds after the 5 day trek!
Before our final return to London via Delhi, again, with a sleeper train covering the bulk of the journey back, we were able to also visit Agra where we were able to visit the incredible Taj Mahal as a final unforgettable event.
All in all, the challenge has been one of the most unforgettable experiences I have had, and I would again like to thank everybody who has made the kind and generous donations, which have been very gratefully received.
Cintre will now be using funds raised to ensure that there is a lasting legacy from this challenge, which can assist our service users to gain unique opportunities to improve their health and wellbeing.
Thank you everyone, for all the support, generosity and well wishes!