A passionate dance, a badminton champion, an aspiring psychoanalyst, a certified scuba diver and a high-altitude trekker there is a whole lot more to Medhavi Davda than just her techie side. Energetic on the surface but calm within, this trekker approaches life head first when it comes to pursuing her passions and beliefs. Quitting her job in the software industry to let life unfold in front of her, Davda shares with us her story about following her passion for her boots and the hills.
Livingit: What were some of the factors that led you to quit your job in the Software Industry?
Medhavi Davda: I worked for 9.5 years as a Software Engineer with companies TCS, Infosys and IBM. I always wanted an alternate career, which I could never figure out. I kept waiting for something to motivate me and some brilliant idea to strike, so that I could quit my job.
In my last project in IBM, I was forced to work irregular hours, spending maddening hours on conference calls and ordering food from outside. I had no routine and started losing out on my healthy lifestyle that I’ve always tried to maintain, ever since! Additionally, I was forced to cancel my approved leaves for a planned trek due to reasons against my mindset. This gave me a strong reason to quit to pursue my passions.
Livingit: Financially, did you have a plan post quitting your job?
Medhavi Davda: I resigned from my job without any plan in my mind. I had planned not to plan anything and give myself a complete break from work to figure out my life after quitting the corporate job. The break time depended on the amount I kept aside from my savings for this purpose. The sooner I exhaust the amount, the sooner I need to start earning. My whole idea was to give a break to the worries of future and explore myself and places to slowly let my life unfold.
Livingit: How do you prepare for a trek?
Medhavi Davda: I have been a corporate champion of Pune for Badminton (a state champ and national player in the past). Badminton was a regularly fitness routine for me when I lived in Pune. In addition to this, I jog 4-5 kms a day for at least 2 weeks before the trek. I follow very strict diet for at least a month before the trek. I avoid oil, butter, bread, alcohol, fast food and I also take up 1 week of GM diet course in the month.
Now that I’m living in the mountains, my daily fitness routine includes hikes to different places every morning. My basic life includes a lot of walking around in the mountains. Before I go on high altitude treks, I jog in the mountains every morning.
Livingit: What trekking essentials do you recommend?
Medhavi Davda: A good pair of trekking shoes, a good backpack, and a trekking pole. The clothing gears (fleece, waterproof/windproof down jacket, pants, gloves, socks, cap, hat) can be selected as per the weather and the terrain. Headlamp, sunglasses, and sunscreen are other essentials you don’t want to forget on a trek.
Livingit: Where was your first trek to?
Medhavi Davda: My first trek was to Brighu Lake in Himachal Pradesh, when I was 16 years old. I was awestruck with the beauty of the Himalayas and the adrenaline rush that trekking gave me. I knew I would come back. I had to wait for another 13 years to take my next trek. I trekked to Roopkund in 2013 and never looked back!
Livingit: How did you go from Tourist to Explorer?
Medhavi Davda: Since childhood, I had a never-ending desire to see the world and experience life in all possible ways. I constantly worked to quench this hunger by the means of sports, dance, short trips, and adventures. Traveling was only a by-product of all these activities initially until I found it as the best medium to evolution.
I evolved from Tourist -> Adventurer -> Traveler -> Solo Backpacker -> Explorer.
Livingit: How did you come up with the name “Ravenous Legs” for your brand/blog?
Medhavi Davda: I was casually interacting with my little sister one day about naming my blog. She hates the fact that I’m always travelling when she needs me the most and complains about me having unstoppable legs. It was her suggestion to look for a name synonymous to that. I, being a techie, wanted a name to pass through the SEO iterations and RavenousLegs came in as a perfect choice.
Livingit: How do you go about getting yourself sponsored for a trek?
Medhavi Davda: I paid for all my treks till now. I have offers from a few trekking companies to trek with them on a barter. They would sponsor my trek and I would blog or produce content for them in return. This season, I would choose the treks that I want to do and approach these companies for sponsorship.
Livingit: What do “Nirvana moments” mean to you?
Medhavi Davda: I found my “Nirvana Moments” in the mountains. Roopkund Trek, Chadar Trek , Kashmir Great Lakes , solo trek to Markha Valley, Stok Kangri, Auden’s Col , Kalindi Khal – I started scaling heights with each successive adventure. I always found reasons to run away to the Himalayas, even if it was to catch a glimpse of snow-clad mountains on a weekend.
The more I trekked through these beautiful, snow-clad, tough mountains, the more I got away from modern materialism. I no longer have the desire to own a fleet of cars, and I’m detached with the idea of stocking exclusive brands in my wardrobe. I stumbled upon the wisdom that happiness comes from doing things that you love, and not from owning things.
Livingit: If you had to choose one, what was your favorite trek so far? Tell us a little bit about it?
Medhavi Davda: Auden’s Col, was undoubtedly my favourite trek so far. It was my first expedition. The beauty of this trek is beyond words. It is pure, pristine and breathtakingly miraculous. It was special because I was trekking with my best trek mates, I had met in different treks so far. We were a strong team of passionate trekkers. Ours was the only team trekking on this route in that period.
We had all the entire Himalayan range just to ourselves. We had designed our itinerary with 2 high-altitude passes – Auden’s Col and Mayali pass. We assumed that the Mayali pass would be a cakewalk for us after crossing Auden’s Col. Only while climbing to the Mayali pass we realized that these were actually two different treks. We added two feathers to our cap in a single attempt. We walked on snow for all the 11 days (the Himalayas had received the heaviest snowfall in past 20 years).
The Khatling glacier is heavily infested with crevasses, the descend from the pass was 75-80 degrees steep and technical. Even if I end up trekking to more dangerous and higher routes in future (which I of course plan to do), Auden’s Col will always remain special to me.
Livingit: Do you prefer to trek solo or in groups?
Medhavi Davda: I prefer trekking in small groups. On difficult terrains, it is not easy to arrange the logistics just for a single person. The expenses get exorbitant too. On some dangerous routes, even the trekking guides and organizers advise to trek at least in a group of 4. It is the team effort that counts in dangerous situations. There could be some days on the trek when you feel low due to various factors. A team with a strong bond helps in these situations too. I realized this on my treks to Auden’s Col and Kalindi Khal.
Trekking is not only physical but even a mental test.
Having said that, I have trekked solo in Ladakh to put my courage and mental strength to test. I chose a route through the high-altitude villages of Markha Valley and crossed two high altitude passes (5000m and 5500m). I had meals and stayed overnight in homestays in the villages on the route. After Markha valley, I was so acclimatized and charged up that I planned to climb the Stok Kangri peak. The route is through glaciers and snow and the summit is at the height of 6000m. I hired a guide from Leh and attempted this summit solo.
Livingit: Do you connect with other like-minded travelers? If so, how?
Medhavi Davda: I connect with like-minded travelers through different mediums. There are the ones I have met on my treks and travels and have actually travelled with them. The others are the ones I connect with on social media through my blog. I do meet bloggers at few meets and events I attend. Familiarization trips also give me a good platform to connect with bloggers and travelers from different parts.
Livingit: What was one of the worst experiences you’ve had while trekking and how did you overcome it?
Medhavi Davda: I was trekking in Kashmir, and suddenly the weather played a spoilt sport while trying to cross a steep high altitude pass. It poured heavily and made all the narrow trails slushy. At one of the inclines, all trekkers were slipping and there was a traffic-jam already!
It got worse because I was trekking with a company which had taken 2 big groups together. The over smart me, took a narrower trail just below this jammed one. I was cautiously walking on it as it could accommodate only one foot at a time. Suddenly the trail ended! I had to climb up to the originally jammed trail which was approx 30 feet above me. There was no trail, no support, and the rains didn’t help me either. I somehow gathered
I somehow gathered the courage to move up to the deep valley without any grip on the slushy inclined mountains, with my 10kg backpack on me. I was halfway up and suddenly a horse slipped from the jammed trail towards my direction and it kept on slipping towards me, just 4-5 feet away from me. One kick-off his on my face would have vanished me forever. The horseman wasn’t able to control the horse and I just gathered enough strength to move in the opposite direction of the horse, quickly made my way to the main trail and sat down with frozen feet for 45 mins. I couldn’t move after this incident. I asked for help from a local for crossing the slippery incline after that.
While I was crossing this patch with the local, I slipped again. I was hanging in the valley with the only support of my palms held by the local, who was 4 inches shorter and 10 kgs lighter than me! He asked me to put some effort to come up. I tried, but I had no grip with for my feet and the soil was constantly being washed away by the rains. After 2-3 attempts of me trying to push myself up, I gave up! I was ready to die as I couldn’t see myself hanging for more than 5 more minutes. I have no idea how, but the local managed to pull me up! This was the last time I ever trekked with companies with big groups. Now, I only trust the locals with my challenging treks.
Livingit: What is one of the best memories you have from your treks?
Medhavi Davda: I had a horrifying experience on Chadar Frozen River Trek (It’s done in Ladakh in winters when the temperature ranges between -15°C and -30°C). Addicted to solo traveling, I strayed from the group and was walking down the frozen river nonchalantly, with my backpack on my shoulders and camera hanging down my neck. Unfortunately, my leg broke through the thin layer of ice and made its way through to the water flowing beneath. The feel of ice cold water numbed my leg and my brain together. I controlled the panic inside me and tried to lift up my leg. But the thin sheets of ice couldn’t handle the weight of my body and the backpack and my other leg sunk in too. I was inside the flowing river chest-deep and my hands above the chadar.
It was this moment when everything around me became a blur and I sensed the rare possibility of my survival. I somehow gathered my senses and waved my trekking pole and called for help. There were locals on the trek who spotted me and rescued me. Yes, I was pulled out alive. My boots had a considerable amount of ice in it. Socks, double layer of pants, down jacket, gloves, camera, everything was frozen, rock hard. Luckily I had clothes waterproofed in my backpack. And the only way to warm myself again was to start hiking again.
I still remember how happy I was to have experienced this FORCED DIP in Chadar and survived!
Know more about the Chadar Frozen River Trek
Livingit: What trek/trail would you recommend to solo travelers and why?
Medhavi Davda: I recommend the only the trails which go through local inhabited villages, for solo trekking. The locals keep using theses route for their basic living. If you lose your way, fall sick, run out of food or become victim to bad weather, there would be scope for help.
If you want to venture on the uninhabited routes, I recommend to trek with a guide who is local to that region.
If you are an experienced trekker and have done the mountaineering and rescue courses, you may choose to trek completely solo on tougher routes. I haven’t tried this on my own yet!
Livingit: Are there countries other than India that you would like to explore on foot?
Medhavi Davda: I would love to conquer all the seven summits! And apart from that, I would love to trek in Nepal, Peru, Canada and Tibet.
I love to experience hiking (if not trekking), in every country I visit. I went hiking to Mount Rinjani – the 2nd highest active volcano in Indonesia, Sapa Highlands in Vietnam and Taktsang monastery in Bhutan.
Livingit: How did your family and friends react to your change in lifestyle?
Medhavi Davda: They weren’t surprised at all! The frequency at which I used to run to the mountains whenever I could manage leaves from work, had given them a clear indication of what was coming next. My family was quite cool with my decision of moving to the mountains, nevertheless, they want to see me married! My friends were very happy and supportive towards my decision.
Few friends were even worried that I was quitting my job without any plan in mind. Most of my friends are so glad to see me living my passion that they claim to see the world through my eyes. My teachers and mentors whom I’ve respected the most, have shown great confidence in my decision.
Livingit: Do you have any tips for Beginners who want to start trekking?
Medhavi Davda: Ya, it would be as follow:
- Prepare yourself well with the essential gears, especially trekking shoes , backpack and appropriate clothing.
- Trek in smaller groups (max 10-15 in a group), even though it is costlier than trekking in larger groups. It is more enjoyable and safe in smaller groups. In the case of bad weather conditions, it is easier to move ahead with small groups, whereas the big groups need to return in certain cases.
- Try to keep away from mobile phones and music while trekking. Try to connect with yourself and nature.
- The most important – Take only memories, leave only footsteps. Be very sensitive to the sensitive ecosystems.
Livingit: What are some of the common mistakes beginner trekkers make?
Medhavi Davda: I wish I knew that it was more beneficial to trek in small groups and with the specialists of a particular region than booking a trek with the trekking companies with high SEO ranking on google.
I learnt this with my own experiences. I always advise this to people who seek help from me.
Livingit: What’s next on your bucket list?
Medhavi Davda: Great Himalayan National Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I moved to Tirthan Valley in November 2016. Winters is not the best time to trek, but I hiked to quite a few places in and around the valley. I’m dying to trek to the higher and inner regions of the Great Himalayan National Park starting from April.
Next, I want to target summiting a couple of peaks in Nepal/India and then another high-altitude pass in Uttarakhand.
Keeping her friends, family and now readers in the loop, Medhavi Davda runs a blog about her travels, RavenousLegs.