“So what’s the wildest adventure you ever got yourself into?”- he asked, stroking his long grey beard with one hand and handling the steering wheel with another.
“Can’t say. I’ve always been too careful for adventure. There’s always a plan B and possibly a plan C. Then there’s a plan of action for the worst case scenario. I hardly ever leave room for surprises.”
“So you’ve never even been on a hike alone? When I was your age - which is what 40 years ago - I used to take my tent, keep walking in the hills without a path in mind, find a place to pitch it when it got dark and start walking again next morning. You should try that sometime.”
“Probably a little too adventurous for me. But let me tell you about this fantasy I’ve had for a while ever since I’ve come to the hills…
I go on a trek alone- with my backpack, a detailed map of where I want to go, a fool-proof plan of who to get in touch with if I get lost- all loose ends covered. But the thing that happens is- I get lost anyway. And I keep walking in circles but there’s no one around and it starts to get dark and scary. But right when I start losing all hope, a mountain dog finds me, takes charge and guides me to a village.”
“Haha! That’s your fantasy? The way you were telling your story, I expected the ending to be a lot more grand.”
“But isn’t it the best end to the story? You know what they say about mountain dogs who help lost travelers find their way? They are reincarnations of mountaineers and trekkers who died while on one of their adventures. They now live here and guide others of their kind find their way back. If that isn’t grand, what is..?”
Note: Conversation with another volunteer, while on a road trip from Palampur to Dharamshala