Sunday morning and the alarm gently nudged me awake. These days with a mobile phone alarms, you are not rudely awoken to a screaming clock, shocked out of perhaps a pleasant reverie. Nevertheless, being woken up at 5 am on a Sunday morning is not enjoyable however soothing the awakening.
“You can’t be serious” I cursed to myself as I debated whether to actually get out of bed or pretend the alarm had never happened. “A Walkathon on a Sunday!?” I could not have possibly organized that! What had processed me? This is the ritual every Sunday that I organize a Walkathon. The incredulous self-talk goes on for a couple of minutes before I drag myself out of a cozy bed into a bitterly cold morning.
The group’s punctuality still amazes me while meeting for a Walkathon. 6am and we were ready to go.
We drove to the point where the cars were to be parked and then set off uphill through the wet tea bushes. It never occurred to me that one could get lost amongst tea bushes. But, apparently one can! It a maze of green leaves in ever direction for miles. Easy to feel completely disoriented. Well, I for one can get lost in my own kitchen, so a vast tea estate is easy!
The mist curled over the tea bushes. Hovering over them as the sunlight tried to peek through. The climb was steep in places. Through a wooded patch, trees covered with moss. An incredible sight! The last of the Rhododendrons were still blooming.
After about sixty minutes of steady climbing through tea and trees, slipping and sliding in points, we were at the top of a semi-plateau. A high Grassland at the top of the gentle rolling hill. Various flowering shrubs scattered around. Witches broom growing in a huddle in places. A large pile of rocks of varying sizes obviously collected and placed there for a reason. Perhaps a temple of sorts? Prayer stones?
Beyond the grassland, a panorama unfolded. The pine and eucalyptus forests just below. The wide river far ahead in the valley luminous in the early morning sun. Mountains, plains, hills, trees. Nature in all its glory. As far as the eye could see, there were the gentle mountains. The Nilgiris. It takes your breadth away.
You can almost hear the silence. Save for a random bird screeching and the occasional rustle of the wind there is nothing but the beautiful quiet.
These walkathons are a part of the fitness activity for the group of students that are part of my fitness program called “Training For Life”.
Training For Life addresses the various aspects of fitness including Cardio, Strength, Endurance & Flexibility. The Walkathons test the endurance of the leg muscles. Our walks are anywhere between 2 and 5 hours and up to twenty Km. We’ve covered a variety of terrains the slippery pine forests covered in pine needles, rocky sides of the mountain, tea bushes, wild undergrowth of the ‘Sholas” of the Nilgiris, the shades of the Eucalyptus trees. Every one of the Nineteen Walkathons we have done so far have been memorable. It has given us the opportunity to explore the glorious Nilgiris. Places we never knew existed.
It is also a way of including exercise as part of a pleasurable activity. A way of encouraging people to view physical activity as fun. A way of enticing them to make it a part of their lives.
The early morning, sleep deprivation, the cold are all worth enduring for the visual treats that await.
Much as I curse, I know I would do it again in a heartbeat.