Our First Night Out

Since my last blog post, we went into the town of Mussouri and the group went on our one-night shakedown trek. Wednesday we spent most of the morning preparing for the next day’s hike, packing our bags, and learning what the trek would entail. After lunch, we then went on a three-mile walk into town. It was really awesome to finally get a first-hand view of the culture and be in the middle of the comings and goings of Mussoori. We went to a number of different little shops selling a range of things from Kashmiri silk to small little trinkets. Cows walked through the narrow streets with almost no regard for the cars and scooters speeding through the marketplace, and stray dogs slept along the road covered with dust and dirt. 

Yesterday we woke up early, ate breakfast, double-checked our gear, and then went out on the trek. After walking a short distance to the start of the nature preserve we got started with a downhill that never seemed to end. We descended probably around two thousand feet along our five-and-a-half mile walk for the day. We stopped briefly for lunch and then preceded to start looking for a campsite. Along the trail we were following there was a small local village of maybe a hundred people and they took us to a field where we could camp after we asked them where the best place to set up camp would be. They allowed us to use their water pump so we had fresh water to use for dinner at camp. We set up camp, made dinner, and then went to bed for the night. The next morning we ate breakfast, packed up our gear, and then headed back uphill for the remaining four and a half miles back to the Hanafil center. 

What did you learn during the shakedown overnight trek? How will this impact your approach to the longer trek later in the program?

My biggest initial takeaway from the shakedown was just how heavy my backpack was. It was totally manageable for both days, but it makes hiking a lot more difficult, I guess as you’d expect from having a fifty-pound bag on your back. Adding a couple of pounds for the actual trek will only make it worse, but at the same time, I feel like I’ll be fine. 

Besides that, I think the group dynamic will work well for our group. We divided into groups of three and I’m with Hannah and Lilly, and I anticipate everything going pretty smoothly within our small group. As far as the overall group dynamic, there were certainly times of tension, especially this morning when we were trying to figure out the balance between walking pace and taking breaks. That’s to be expected within a group, especially doing something this difficult and I don’t think any of it was detrimental to the overall group cohesion. 

What leadership skills and abilities did you recognize being implemented by your peers during the shakedown trek?

Communication and listening. During the morning walk back today there was some disagreement amongst the group, but in order to make it back, we needed to first overcome our differences. This required some communication between the different parties in order to verbalize what the issue was and then what each group felt the best course of action was. From there the group needed to listen to one another, and then figure out what to actually do. This takes great leadership skills to compromise and figure out what is going to work best for the group even if it is maybe not what is ideal for you. 

Upon reflection, how did you personally offer leadership on the shakedown trek?

Within the small groups, I felt like I offered a lot. I took the lead when it came to setting up the tent and starting the stove for dinner. I also let others take charge at other points and compromised and went along with others when it was needed.