Here is how a 6-year-old trekked with us

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Here is how a 6-year-old trekked with us

Kids are a surprise package and with their every gesture, they keep us stunned. We were also amazed by Shanaya Saxena, a 6-year-old, who completed the Kareri Lake Trek with us on 25th June. With only 6 years of life experience, she has given us important life lessons. She was accompanied by her father, Deepankar Saxena.
“I love trekking. I have done a few Himalayan treks. Whenever I would show my trek pictures, Shanaya would always talk about coming along with me. I could see her desire. She was ready to do anything for that,” remembers Deepankar. Being adventurous parents, Deepankar and his wife, both wanted their daughter to experience the mountains. “We have a 3-year-old son. Despite that, my wife insisted on going ahead for the trek. We live in a polluted city. We want our kids to know a pollution-free world, closely. We want nature to be part of their growth. Additionally, my wife knows I am a regular trekker. I also have First Aid certification and am a member of my organisation’s Safety and First Aid committee. So, she trusts me.” Having done Bhrighu Lake, Nag Tibba, Chadar Trek, and Binsar Trek with Trek The Himalayas (TTH), the Saxena family was sure the next trek would be with TTH only. He says, “While booking for the trek itself I made sure that we choose the right season and right difficulty level trek. The TTH team suggested Kareri Lake as a good start for trekking with a kid. Laxmi, being my Trek Coordinator, assured the presence of skilled and responsible staff during the trek to assist me.”

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Well, having the desire is not enough for the trek. One has to be prepared physically too. Deepankar made sure his daughter was well prepared. At least she should be used to long hours of walking. The father-daughter duo used to follow our fitness regime one month before the trek. “Every morning from 6-7 we trained ourselves. 15-20 minutes treadmill, then push ups, situps, crunches, and all the exercises mentioned in the schedule, that would be our morning sessions. Surprisingly, Shanaya enjoyed doing that. As days passed I was confident.” However, to satisfy some remaining doubts Deepankar had an idea. He thought of going to Vaishnav Devi to check if his daughter is ready. And the last traces of concern about trekking with kids disappeared.

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“Right from the first day of the trek, Shanaya was a lovely and obedient kid. She would willingly talk to the villagers, other trekkers, and our staff members. Many other trekkers we met en route also cheered her. She would walk with the guide all the time. She was leading the trek. We had no issues in managing her, we had a blast,” recalls Sushil, our Trek Leader.
Talking for Shanaya, Deepankar states, “I had the best time with her. We connected a lot, in a new way. She enjoyed everything about nature, streams, winds, trees, villages, sunrise, rain everything. Drinking stream water and Maggie was her favourite. Right on the first day she had stomach pain, and I was scared that night. But the next morning, she was back with the same enthusiasm, which lasts even today. She gave me a hard time while returning. She was just reluctant to come back to the city. I must say, our training paid off and my dream of hiking with my daughter was fulfilled. A dream that has come true due to TTH staff. They were helpful at every moment. I knew I would and I have hiked carefree under their management. I will soon plan another trek with my daughter and TTH.”

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Unlike every parent, Deepankar also had his insecurities and questions about taking his dear one to the mountains. Just like Deepankar mentions, satisfying every doubt and planning well helps. “Many people ask me about how to manage kids while hiking. I give them a simple answer, if you can manage them at home, you can do it in the mountains too. Of course, the weather and terrain add risk in the Himalayan treks. But we must be brave to take those risks for the betterment of our children. That is what we do, that is what parents do.” He exhibits a few measures to follow while planning a trek with children;

Double-check the Trekking company. Do not go with just guides or on private trips, professional help and safety are a must.
Verify if the weather is good and the grade of the trek is doable by the kid. Always start with an easy trek
Train hard. Also, be prepared for the worst, at least mentally. Be it weather, injury, or whatever, plan everything.
Talk to your child frequently during the trek. Ask for any discomfort or pain. Usually, kids pretend to be well due to the excitement. Read their faces, and body language. Know your child.
If anything is wrong, communicate with the Trek Leader. Ask for help, when needed.
Get all the necessary quality gear for the kids.
If there are medical problems, consult a doctor first.

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