Hustling up a steep slope until your breath runs out, while defying the downward pull of gravity exerted by your rucksack and body weight can produce loud grumbling noises in your tummy. The imaginary smell of steaming food wafts inside your nostrils and offers enough motivation to push further.
When you finally unlatch your rucksack, drop it on the ground and breathe in a moment of glory as you’ve reached your camping spot, the adventure is not over yet. The heat radiating from the pores of your skin acts as your battery charge until the chills creep in, stiffen up your limbs and snatch away the last bar of energy.
Whether the numbness is overpowering your cold fingers, your eyelids are drooping in exhaustion or your aching legs are in dire need of a massage, pitching a warm tent to sleep in and lighting up your portable stove for a hot and decent meal are your top priorities.
So after the last pole of the tent has been hammered into the ground, the chef inside you is naturally awakened as you get down to chopping up potatoes and vegetables, or ripping open those packets of instant noodles. You are not bothered when your hands shiver while washing those utensils at a nearby stream, or bits of dirt from your clothes mix up with the rice or lentils to be added to a pot of simmering water.
Setting up your cooking station is not that easy either as a vile cold wind threatens to blow off your makeshift cover or a light drizzle snuffs out the fire. A hospitable local family might also lend a single room or shelter for your gourmet operations. But once the stove is lit and the cooking is underway, your heart (or your stomach) skips a beat.
Keeping in mind your sleep-deprived nerves and weary muscles and the early schedule fixed for the next day, the entire mission must be launched with extreme haste. The high altitude is also going to drag down the pace of your cooking, hence the doubled perspiration and effort. Your entire evening might be spent in attempting to satisfy your gastric needs.
This situation is reversed when you are lazy enough to opt for a home stay and indulge in the comfort of ready-made local food filling your stomach. But such a plan seriously hobbles your adventure motives, as your rucksack would also be a lot lighter due to the absence of resources.
Once the steaming food nestles cozily in the recesses of your stomach, you head inside your tent and zip it up, untie your shoes and snuggle into the warmth of your sleeping bag. The chef inside you temporarily dozes off as well.
Culinary skills should be inculcated if you want to taste true adventure and look out for yourself in the mountains.