Starting out young to conquer your passion has its own perks.Many people don’t realize what they are passionate about or some of them find their passion very late.But its never too late to start anything.Aniruddh Joshi for sure is not late. Actually he is well within time. He has a passion for hiking and wants to take his passion to the next level by becoming a professional in it.
We often read success stories. But every success story has a beginning.Aniruddh’s story is just about to begin. So here’s Aniruddh Joshi, a young hiker, dreamer, and adventure seeker in conversation about his love for hiking, starting of young and what plans he has in store!
Livingit: How would you describe yourself? Have you always been a very active person?
Aniruddh Joshi : I have an adventurous soul, a stupid brain, a hyperactive body and a life-hack approach. I love learning new things and living on my own terms. I’m also a very curious person. It is the curiosity in me that takes me to half my adventures.
Be it land or be it water, the outdoors have floored me. I’ve always hated to be a slob. I have been a slob for almost my entire life, but I hated it! And it is never too late to change what you hate about yourself.
Livingit: How did it all start? What motivated you to take up hiking?
Aniruddh Joshi : It all started out when I was much younger. My friends and I wandered into the National Park, trekking all the way up to a secluded waterfall. On other weekends, we’d continue our search for perennial waterfalls around the state. I swore allegiance to scaling high mountains, on a day I should even hate the idea of.
It was 44 degrees that day and we were on a standalone mountain, stranded, desperate for water and praying for a Helicopter ride back home. We finally figured a way down after 8 long hours through the dried-up waterfall route and met some villagers (read: Angels) down in the pastures who helped us with some water. The whole experience brought out the innate survivor within me. And also moved water to the top of my checklist.
Livingit: Why do you enjoy hiking? (Landscapes, freedom, personal reward…etc)
Aniruddh Joshi : I do it for the love of taking myself to places, where I set sight upon. Camp location is key. Don’t just look at a spot, be the spot. If a cliff excites you, a cave entices you, go and live there for a night. Don’t be scared of other animals, be the wild animal sometimes. Greet the morning sun after a dark night. The sunrise brings about more than just warmth and light, after surviving the night in circumstances that only the pack knows about.
Livingit: You prefer to trek with friends and/or your brother, rather than groups or on your own – did you persuade them to join you or was it a mutual passion?
Aniruddh Joshi : We all love the outdoors, some or the other aspect of it. My brother and my friends equally love living in the wild without an itinerary. I do the research part and we take a group-call for a location. Once decided, I call up some local businesses to take a lowdown on the state of wildlife around.
Things never turn out to be the way we planned, in terms of weather, fauna and fatigue. But, randomness could never be boring. We’ve lived out such difficult nights in the wild, makes all our other issues in life seem petty and unimportant.
Livingit: An avid gamer by passion as well as profession, in an article published by IGN India, you mention that you can relate to character Nathan Drake from the Uncharted Series – an explorer. Could you elaborate on your interest in exploring and self-education?
Aniruddh Joshi : Gaming has always been a tool to escape reality. But games have come so far, that they come across and teach you certain things about life in general. Nathan Drake from the Uncharted series has inspired me to focus, plan and somehow execute. It doesn’t matter how you do it. It matters that you try.
Recently, I went on a trek to the Kalsubai range and further Lake Arthur for a swim, all by myself. Being alone on a mountain and alone at sea for more than 50 hours, made me feel stronger than I ever was. I learnt to help myself in situations where I thought I’d require another person. A human can do things they never thought they could. All they have to do is, try. My preparation for the trek began more than a month in advance.
I bought the ropes and necessary equipment to rappel down from up there. I started watching videos online and reading up blogs to educate myself of all the Do’s and Don’ts of mountaineering. I started rappelling down from the terrace of my apartment for practice. I tied and untied the knots again and again until they became muscle-memory.
On the afternoon, I finally rappelled down from a mountain, I didn’t feel like I’m not professionally trained. It was just an activity which could save a lot of time on a hard day below the sun.
Livingit: On that note, do you have any professional training in mountaineering, hiking and rappelling?
Aniruddh Joshi : I do not, yet. I never had the opportunity or support to pursue mountaineering. Only until recently, when my parents understood that learning the craft could be better in guidance of professionals and veterans than YouTube and blog-links.
I’ve enrolled myself for the year’s first batch of the ‘Basic Mountaineering Course’ at the NIM, Uttarakashi. I’m really excited to learning rock, snow and ice craft in the Himalayas for a month.
Livingit: What does your mountaineering kit consist of?
Aniruddh Joshi : The harness, some carabiners, a descender, a helmet, anchor slings, scissors and tape, some gloves, a headlamp, my handbook, climbing/rappelling ropes and speakers.
Livingit: What led you to explore the Sahyadri mountain ranges (Western Ghats of India)? How did you narrow down on where you wanted to go hiking?
Aniruddh Joshi : Well, I live in Mumbai and the closest mountain ranges are the Sahyadris. The Western Ghats are these beautiful set of mountains with brilliant rock formations, right up to the summits. For our treks we narrow down on the elements a place can provide. I am sold if there is a lake, but I could negotiate even if there’s a waterfall or a river bank. A cold water swim after a hard trek is always refreshing.
Earlier this year you completed the Devils Circuit in Bombay, India’s biggest obstacle course being a military level obstacle riddled 5 kilometer trail. Could you share your experience:
Livingit: What made you decide to take part in the Circuit?
Aniruddh Joshi : I had seen some promotional posts about the Devil’s circuit and the whole idea of a marathon riddled with obstacles got me interested. I was curious to know if I could slay the Devil.
Livingit: Tell us a little about it.
Aniruddh Joshi : Devil’s circuit is this one colossal party where all fitness enthusiasts meet and exert every year. The party begins only after you cross the final obstacle, that is, walking inside and through tons of ice. But, the preparations begin well in advance.
People cheer and support anybody seeming like they’ll fumble in the final yard. The realisation that everyone is in it together. A marathon is always a great experience and these guys upped the difficulty level by laying down some very enduring military obstacles along the circuit.
Livingit: What did you learn from it?
Aniruddh Joshi : I learnt that endurance does not necessarily require you to be in shape, it demands you to push yourself knowing that you are in bad shape. I know the hard way now that in terms of physical fitness, there is a long way to go for me. And I’m on it!
Livingit: You also enjoy swimming as another passion, having swam shore to shore in multiple lakes across Maharashtra…how important is it to you to live out your passions?
Aniruddh Joshi : I grew up as someone who was petrified of water, especially water in the dark. I’ve learnt from my experiences that there is nothing in the water to be afraid of. Fear will only slow you down. I believe that water bodies should not always just be appreciated from a distance but experienced from within. If the water is too cold, use the sun to heat back up.
I swim across to the other shore just to push myself a little more every time. And nothing can beat the view from the other side. It is the same analogy as standing on top of a mountain and looking down to see how really far you’ve come. One piece of advice: always check online and then again with the locals for alligators or larger fish. Being someone’s breakfast is not on my bucket list!
Livingit: Being young and full of motivation, where do you see yourself in 8 years?
Aniruddh Joshi : I don’t know where specifically I’d be in 8 years. But, I’d want to travel, live and experience places I’ve never been to before. We are all born in some corner of the Earth, it is upto us to explore the world we are in. Traveling is just a peek, living there is the experience.
Hoping that Aniruddh inspires many young lads out there who want to follow their passion and in coming years becomes a successful mountaineer we all can be proud of!
He’s quite young, but he’s Livingit! What’s your excuse?