It was about four years ago. I work in a hilly town called Shillong in the state of Meghalaya in India. Five of us trekked up to the nearby Shillong Peak, a steep climb of nearly 2-3 km. At the Peak, there is one of the four headquarters of Indian Air Force. We made it. It was a common trekking route. Coming down, we decided to explore our way through a different direction. We took a walk of around 2 km along the road inside IAF headquarters. It was allowed for tourists after due verification of identity. There is a place from where the entire town below is clearly visible. By that time we were just out of the IAF gate. Locals told us there is a way straight down. The town was clearly visible but in between there was a thick forest of about 2km aerial distance. The track was also not clear although the locals had no doubt about it. A few objected, but majority prevailed. We lured them with the thrill of taking risk. It was around 4 pm. As we descended, the faint track disappeared after a few hundred metres. But by then we have lost the view of the town. There were pine trees everywhere. The light was poor. Two of us wanted to climb up again. Again it was majority that prevailed. I told them we would make it if we keep going down straight. I knew the town, although not the jungle. The forest turned thicker. I wondered why the forest seemed endless whereas it was not so when I look at the Peak from my house in the town. The Peak looks so near. We were lost between the Peak and the town. Worse, the light was becoming elusive. None had a torch. It was not an organised trekking. We were supposed to be in the town by 5 pm. Another one hour of light was left. For half an hour, we tried to follow a dried stream (it was winter) which, we thought, had a chance of leading us to a bigger stream flowing to the town. But, the descent along the stream became impossible with huge rocks coming on our way. We did not have any idea how far we were from the place we started. Once I thought of calling someone to request for a airlift by the air force. But the mobile had no network. Passing night without any extra clothes in the winter was impossible. Everyone was panicky. We just came there on an afternoon trip and supposed to be home by evening. Now we were lost in the forest just 2-3 km away from last human habitation. There was threat of wild animals. With the dark there were all kinds of sounds made by insects and birds. We had no food too. Those who did not want to take the risk of exploring a new way had all reasons to scold the rest of us. None dared give a smile. I knew there was no use of climbing down anymore. The hills were not so straight as it seemed from house down. I proposed to ascend the hill again. Rest agreed. They had no choice. The climb was painful. It was steep. At places, there was no way ahead. We had to literally tear apart the bushes to pass through. But, the result was wonderful. We made it, within 20 minutes, to the same place where we began to “explore”. The town was visible again. It was almost dark. Some lights in the town were visible. For nearly three hours, we were in a different world which was not even a kilometre away from the Peak! There was no energy left to trek. A taxi brought us home in 20 minutes. We got what we wanted…THRILLLLL.

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