From Desk to Peaks: A Journey of Courage and Dreams

I quit by job in my late 40s, long before this was a trend, packed up my bags and went for Everest Base Camp. I’m Vrushali Bagade and I am going to take you on a journey – not just across places on the map, but through the pages of my life. A life filled with adventure, challenges, dreams, and the unwavering spirit to pursue them.

A Mother, An Adventurer, A Dreamer

Based in Pune with my engineer husband, two wonderful daughters, and the responsibility of caring for my aged parents, my life extends beyond our home’s boundaries. I’m an adventure junkie and fitness freak. From trekking Himalayan and Sahyadri forts to exploring the world, my dreams know no limits. But how did I get here?

Childhood Adventures

My childhood involved occasional family trips because of my dad’s government job. I naturally became independent, taking care of my ailing mom and managing home. In school, I collected stamps, had pen pals worldwide, and loved maps, even knowing all the countries’ capitals by 10th grade. And slowly travel became my passion.

Teenage Thrills

Growing up near Pune’s historic forts like Sinhgad, Rajgad, and Lohagad, weekends were all about trekking and outdoor games. In the absence of social media, physical activity was our entertainment back then, and I relished every moment of it.

The Journey to Mumbai

The unforgettable travel from Pune to Mumbai in 1993 for a job interview tested my mettle. The 4 hour travel became a 12-13 hour ordeal due to train disruptions. Undeterred, I walked for an hour to Badlapur, on train tracks, then took a crowded bus to Kalyan, followed by a local train and a double-decker bus, arriving 12 hours late for my interview. My determination paid off and I got the job, marking the start of a 20-year corporate finance career in Mumbai.

Balancing Act

Life has thrown its fair share of challenges my way. Balancing a demanding Mumbai career with family life was no easy feat. A 4 -5 hours daily commute and my kids in babysitting was the norm. Yet, we found balance within our society where we stayed in a community, with many ladies pitching in for childcare and tuition.

A Leap of Faith

From 1994 to 2012, I was deeply engrossed in the corporate world. Then came the moment of reckoning. I took early retirement to be with my family in Pune as my husband embarked on an overseas assignment in Kuwait. Caring for my two daughters and my parents while pursuing my passions marked the start of my new chapter.

The Mountains Beckon

The call of the mountains has always been irresistible to me. The vistas, rivers, meadows, night skies, and the breath-taking Himalayan peaks at sunrise have a magnetic pull. After quitting my job in 2012, I decided to give myself a second chance to be on the mountains. Since the age of 12, I harboured a dream, sparked by captivating tales of the Everest Base Camp. Now was the time, I turned that dream into reality.

Chasing my dream

After two decades in the corporate world, juggling family responsibilities, I realized my fitness had suffered. Determined to conquer my dream of trekking to EBC, I embarked on a rigorous journey in my early 40s. Daily gym sessions, 10-kilometer walks, yoga, Pranayama for lung capacity, and weekend treks in the Sahyadris became my routine. In 2016, after two years of relentless effort, I transformed my dream into reality.

Mountain magic moments

The trek route to EBC is one of the most scenic trek routes I have done till date. The most enchanting moments of the route were the golden sunrises casting mountains in a radiant hue, the breath taking vista from the 5,400-meter-high kala pathar where the entire Himalayan range unveiled itself, and the surreal night after a heavy snowfall, stars illuminating the snowy landscape like a cosmic dream.

Conquering the final frontier

Facing the 5,200-meter Goraksep as our last challenge before Everest Base Camp, I battled exhaustion, dehydration, and the biting cold. As my comrades vanished ahead, an unyielding resolve overcame me. In solitude, I found the strength to chase them down, persevering through snowdrifts and perilous craters. Finally, I conquered Everest Base Camp—a testament to unwavering dreams and unwavering determination.

Wandering the World

EBC was just the start of my wonderful trekking journey. After that, I conquered the Annapurna circuit, which is another 5400 m trek, the Kashmir Great Lakes, and a few other Himalayan treks, along with my usual pursuits in the Sahyadris. My adventures are not limited to just trekking though. I’ve explored almost every corner of India and ventured into 12-plus countries. Ever heard about the time my positive thinking miraculously retrieved my lost passport in a foreign land? Well, let’s keep that for the next time. 

My life’s pursuit

Reflecting on my journey, I’m proud and excited for more adventures. In my belief, life’s purpose lies in becoming our best selves, pursuing passions wholeheartedly, and maintaining unwavering determination. Embracing self-belief and relentless dream-chasing can make our lives a testament to boundless possibilities. My ultimate dream? To explore and trek in all the 200 countries worldwide.

About the author

Traded my engineer's cap for a lawyer's briefcase and found my true passion in exploring the hidden gems of our incredible planet. From offbeat trails to uncharted valleys, I've backpacked through remote villages and chased waterfalls in the far corners of North East India. My heart beats for the untouched beauty of virgin landscapes. When I'm not exploring, you'll find me deep in my yoga practice, nose buried in a book, or penning down my adventures.

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