01 – Most Scenic Trek - Har Ki Dun (HKD) in March 2017
Since this trail is heavily commercialised by large trekking agencies, I had little or low expectations from Har Ki Dun in 2017. Nonetheless, I was wrong. This March, due to an unexpectedly heavy snowfall, I had the place all to myself. This trail that meanders along Supin River left me enchanted and I was mesmerised by Swargarohini’s beauty. Gangaad, Osla and Seema villages had a unique and rugged feel to them. Although I failed to complete this trek , yet I will be back at HKD again, only this time with my brand new snowshoes.
02 – My Biggest Mistake - Not using sandals from Day 1 on the 100BeachRide in August 2017
100BeachRide was a long bicycle tour through the wettest monsoon season in August – September. If you’re bicycle touring through the Indian coastline – forget stiffness and efficiency. Get a pair of ubiquitous sandals. Not only do they keep your feet free of perspiration in high humidity, but they are extremely versatile. On beaches, through sand and mud, the pair of sandals I bought in Alibaug for ₹ 600 lasted me through the trip.
03 – Most Beautiful Road - Tie – Purola Mori (Uttarakhand) & Devgad to Kunkeshwar (Maharashtra)
Fresh tarmac winding through a sylvan Pine and Deodar forest with minimal traffic. The Purola Mori road sets the mood for what’s to come ahead. The pristine surroundings of Govind Pashu Vihar National Park and Sanctuary add to the experience.
On the other hand, the Devgad-Kunkeshwar stretch epitomises what the Konkan coast is all about. Sylvan unnamed beaches, fishing villages and a fresh tarmac with a lush green hill on one side and the Arabian Sea on the other.
04 – Most Used Gear - Fenix LD09 flashlight
Whether I’ve been camping, hiking or living in my 4wd or cycling, this little torch has been right by my side ( read review ) in 2017. Lightweight, extremely tough, well-built, waterproof and runs forever on a single rechargeable Eneloop AA battery . You never realise how essential a good light is till you have one. If I had to buy one today I’d get this model (Available on Amazon) because I can clip it to my backpack on long bicycle rides for that extra visibility.
05 – Top Wearable Gear - Salomon Speedcross Trail Running Shoes
Lightweight, tough with extreme grip in mud slush and over grass. These have been my go-to trekking shoes from March to October 2017. There’s hardly anything I can fault in these shoes (except for their price). Available on Amazon India.
06 – Most Accessed Article - Khandas to Bhimashankar via Ganesh Ghat
This article garnered 14,730 views in 2017 with an average time on page of 05 minutes and 46 seconds.
07 – Top Instagram Posts
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Gear of the Year 2018 – GoPro Hero 5 Black
This is the camera I turned to when the going got tough and the weather turned inclement. From the snowfields in Uttarakhand to the Arabian Sea on the Konkan coast, I’ve taken this everywhere. The hardware is robust, the software is excellent and the LCD on the back is a definite bonus. While there are a lot of cheap knockoffs in the action cam market, remember buying one means you’re buying into an ecosystem. GoPro with its huge selection of mounts, accessories and spares is still great value and a must-have for any outdoor adventurer. If you can splurge on getting the latest Hero 6, that’s great, but if you’re on a strict budget the Hero 5 holds tremendous value. Available on Amazon India.