Frequent travellers are not happy in their basic life - this is what I was told when I discussed my travelling passion with a few of my colleagues. But I didn't give up and continued convincing the other set of people as I always had a perception that if you have to travel you need friends who are like minded and with whom you can share everything, like room, washroom, food, shoes etc. But fortunately I was wrong.
Abandoning a well settled company in Hyderabad and joining a start up was something I could not even think of, if the new location had not been Delhi. With lots of excitement and travelling passion I arrived in Delhi and started googling for nearby places to hang out during weekends. Although it went otherwise and I found myself stick to my bed, AC and junk food. It was three months I was in Noida and I didn’t even go to CP. Being the first employee in my firm I was developing a new team and had no friends to plan any sort of trip.
While struggling with google for travel organizers, I found Bikat Adventure and inquired about upcoming events. They said they organize trekking, which was certainly not my area of interest. Quickly I switched to other organizers and made almost 10 calls in a row. None of them was useful. A month later I received an invitation from Bikat for Beas Kund Trek and I could not resist. I thought going somewhere is better than going nowhere. And this is how I registered for the event half-heartedly. But this didn’t happen so easily. I made many calls to bikats and made them clarify my every little query. That was my first trek and I was not sure whether I would be able to manage it or not. Bikat were so patient, they addressed every single question of mine; from where-to-buy-shoes to which brand of sunscreen will guard more. But still, status was same…Doubtful. To give me more clarity they even called me to an after-trek-party of a previous batch and gave me a platform to talk to recently returned trekkers.
Trek was scheduled in the month of June 2014. I packed my bag very carefully and checked raincoat a thousand number of times. The day arrived when I had to catch a bus for Manali. Started early from office and boarded the metro, all alone. I was constantly imagining in my head that what kind of people I will meet on trek. ‘Majnu kaa tila’ was the venue, where I was supposed to board the bus. I was kind of shy in asking for the address :-/ god knows who kept that name.
I reached at reporting time just to figure out that no one these days stick to time. The problem with being punctual is that you have no one there to appreciate. I had to wait like 1 hour to be seated. Then we had a mini introduction and we were told to sit in the bus. One-by-one bag packers kept coming and adjusting in bus.
To be honest, bus journey is the only thing which I hate on this earth. I mean you can’t even pee according to your wish. I collected a couple of more technical information from trek guide who was sitting next to me. He shared his experience of trekking and few highlights of Beas Kund. There was a halt for dinner at some dhaba. Crowd was so dense as if the food was given for free, we actually struggled for food. While eating I ate his mind too by asking a zillion of more questions like food availability during trek, temperature inquiry and how to become a trek guide so I could do treks for free…typical me :-D BTW his name was Wakeel, well it’s kind of bizarre name :-P
Morning we reached Manali and gathered in a restaurant for breakfast. Finally! I had fresh food and lovely tea. Let me tell you that food is the only thing which can make me social and friendly. So very soon I found myself involved with other participants. There were 11 participants and all were in their 20 something; quite excited. Like me all were first timers. Having finished our breakfast we headed towards Solang Pass in a tempo traveller. It was an entertaining drive as we were quite familiar with each other by then.
The real journey
While dropping us at Solang Pass, the Tempo traveller driver waved a sweet good-bye to us and handled all our belongings. From there we were supposed to use our legs. I quickly changed my footwear as I was wearing formal shoes and put on the trek shoes. The sun was exactly on me like taking revenge or something. While walking I kept discussing the history of Beas Kund with Wakeel. Beas Kund is the origin of Beas River and is located in Himachal Pradesh and we were supposed to go through Solang Valley. He further told me that the trek to Beas Kund will stretch to 16Kms. Solang valley is known for its ski slopes & Paragliding and was at 15kms of drive from Manali. It was so tempting to see people doing paragliding and other activities while passing through Solang Valley.
We were walking sparsely in our own pace. It was five minutes and I was into flashback like how I packed so heavy luggage and what all I could have not packed. I mentally made a note to avoid packing bag such mindlessly. But you know, girls will always remain girls while packing :P. It was just the start of trek and I was taking frequent breaks. I controlled the urge of asking how far the camping place is. But how long I could have controlled, I asked Wakeel and he replied – it’s just two kilometres. I was wondering why I asked when he already told me in bus that it’s a matter of ONLY 8 kms on day 1.
Day 1: Trek from Solang Valley to Bakrathatch (Camping spot)
As I don’t rely on sunscreen, I tied a cloth on my face to avoid sun burn. Apart from me, there were two more girls - Ruchi and Venu. Gradually I started getting friendly with everyone and enjoying the trek and stopped complaining to Wakeel. But still I was selfish enough, whenever it was coming to share water bottle.
The climb was not very steep; the walk was leisurely and has loads of attractions. The sun was getting brighter and thus a boon for photographers. Step by step the trails were growing beautiful and pain easing. The temperature was also dipping down and thus relaxing our walk. The vegetation and colour of soil was changing every 50 meters away. Crossing streams seemed so exciting and challenging to me. There was no touch of manmade things, amazing view - an eye feast that you fall for instantly. I quickly inquired if anybody is carrying DSLR but my bad - none.
After walking around 4 kms, we halted under a tree and had lunch. The same yummy parathas we had in the morning. Hunger was at it’s peak and no more bearable. Initially I hesitated while drinking water from flowing stream but later on I adjusted to it. That water was actually very sweet and clean. The group was quite cool comprising people from different professions like law, media, education, research and the likes. There was a student too, who came for vacations from Dubai. So a variety of exciting topics were put forth to keep the conversation going. One guy called Chirag was from National Geographic channel. He said he is into production department and his work involves lots of travelling. He shared many of his experiences, mostly non-domestic. Any one from TV really excites me. I didn’t realise how the time passed by and we finally reached the camping spot. Wakeel was pitching the tents with the helpers and tea was on it’s way.
It was fun to have tea and snacks in the evening beside a flowing river and silence of mountains. We didn’t speak much and enjoyed the wonderfulness of that place. By the time it went dark, it started raining. I noticed that the awesomeness of that place lied in its unpredictable nature.
We had plans for bon fire but due to continuous rain we could not do that. We gathered, shared our travelling experience and did some sort of leg pulling. Hot food was served around 8 pm with an indication to sleep early. I was anyway too tired mentally and physically both to take part in any activity except sleeping. After finishing my meal I headed towards my tent and slept.
Day 2: Trek to Beas Kund
I woke up very fresh next morning as I had a good sleep. No sleeping pill can give you a sleep like fatigue can. Inside the tent I was searching for my brush – the first thing I wish to see in morning is my brush. The moment I came out, I forgot to brush my teeth and was tossing with wide eyes. The feel was damn good. It was not raining but it seemed as if it rained throughout the night. The chirping of birds, babbling of water, clean air, liberty to think senseless and no hurry to go for work. All were sleeping except Wakeel, helpers and me. Wakeel was not at all a control freak and I loved that. I was allowed to go anywhere and everywhere in nearby places. Every view, every breath, touch of cold breeze, dew drops, blooming flower, every damn thing was like welcoming me. I undo my shoes and let my feet touch the wet grass; took my time and crazily roamed for an hour.
Breakfast was ready in the camp. All had packed their bag, only I was left. We were told to pack small sized and light weighted bag as we were supposed to return at the same place by evening. We took our valuables and other necessary stuffs like sun screen, chocolates, water and most importantly – a camera.
The walk was through boulders and rocks initially; however after walking 2kms I could see the patches of snow which kept growing denser. We were trying to walk together and keep ourselves closer to Wakeel. I realized that I was not speaking at all and nobody was. The views were speaking to our souls and keeping us engaged in relishing the moment. Walking in silence allowed me to think about myself in detail, take few important decisions and reassemble my life in a more effective way. Many attractions kept coming in the way, like the famous 7 hills, meadows of dhundi, glacial snow bridge crossing, etc.
The snow-capped peaks which were visible from the city started falling in my way making me believe that I am really doing this. I tell you, trekking on Snow is tougher to handle and you will have to put more energy to make a move. However, falling in snow is itself a fun…so I kept falling deliberately:-D The offline world in the midst of mountain will give you way more liberated thinking. You don’t need to send a friend request to make friends, friendship will come so naturally. Every moment you will be in playful mode because there you will find nothing else to do. It was a freaking wonderful world.
Everyone was wearing a sweater or Jacket, except me. I was walking unhurriedly, clicking every view and saving carefully. Many times in the middle I kept wandering that at this pace whether I would be able to reach the ultimate destination or not. For a surprise I found a dog, it was really unimaginable to find a dog in such extreme weather conditions and unpopulated place.
It was inspiring to get the dog walking with us and never taking rest at all. Ruchi was walking slow , hence Wakeel provided another guide to walk with her at her pace.
Moving forward, the trails were fully covered by snow and the amount of snow was increasing step-by-step – the hike was getting less painful and more amusing. Until, we were told to climb those huge boulders. I had no idea that I have to climb such unsettled boulders with no safety measures. I kept staring the boulders for 10 minutes and then started looking for some other way to proceed, until Wakeel initiated. He convinced me that I can do and gave a mini training. I kept my feet and made the move exactly the way he taught. Climbing the boulders was a troublesome task for me but the view up boulders was breathtaking. That was a view of unevenly heighted snow capped mountains in a row. It looked as if somebody has painted it in every possible colour. That was too colourful and lively to keep my eyes un-blinked for ages. The best view till now. We sat for a while and had energy boosters. And obviously photography sessions.
Just after crossing the extensive hill of boulders I got the view of most awaited Beas Kund Lake. From Bakarthach we came almost 12,500ft – the Beas Kund was right there which is known to be the source of river Beas. It was fully covered by snow and amazingly soul pleasing. I felt like I won a trophy or something really valueless. We spent like half an hour there, talking and playing with snow.
Returning was not that tough. And I was going in my pace as there was no hurry to reach anywhere. Again the dog was accompanying us. We were excited as snacks and tea was waiting in the camp. I took rest in every 10 minutes of walk, my legs were dead by then.
I was wondering how come it’s a moderate level trek.
Day 3: Back to ground
Last day was tough, mix of fatigue and annoying feel of heading back to city. That was a rainy day. I woke up with pleasant sound of falling rain and hurriedly put on my raincoat. Brushing teeth under rain was totally a feeling like kid. Every moment was new and unseen. The river was more aggressive and excited due to falling rain. I was literally jumping all around and pushing cooks to prepare tea. The place was not like it seemed to be yesterday and that was the awesomeness of the place. So much to explore, relish and absorb.
We waited for rain to stop and pack everything to climb down but rain was so stubborn and was not ready to give up. We finally decided to climb down in rain.
Walking back to same route was mesmerising. We didn’t do photography while returning as it was raining and mostly we clicked while going up. It was depressing for all of us to leave a pollution free and unpopulated place and adjusting back in crowded city. Thoughts of city were making my walk pathetic and same bag pack seemed 100 kilo heavier than yesterday. I felt like why the hell I am carrying this bag like a donkey. Never thought that exit from mountains can be this painful. On the way down, we all collected each other’s email ids and discussed other upcoming trek events. Throughout the walk it kept raining which led to stretched hours in reaching the Solang Valley where the vehicle was waiting for us. After walking down around 8kms we got to see the same tempo traveller waiting for us. It was apparent that nobody wanted to go back and all were looking for an excuse to extend the trek. A couple of trekkers even stayed back and cancelled their returning tickets. Tempo traveller dropped us in a restaurant and it was lunch time, we were damn hungry and ordered mostly non-veg.
Returning bus journey from Manali to Delhi was more like a short picnic. Rahul and Abhay both were talking non-stop and cracking jokes. I am still in touch with many of those backpackers and we keep planning travel events or movie some times.
Learning and take home
The idea of climbing a mountain is not to reach the top of it, take a U turn and return to respective houses. Rather, it's about meeting people, talk in and out and develop understanding to help each other during tough trekking sections.
Having restrictions like unmatched individual stamina and unequal fitness level brings real challenges. Synchronizing the upward movement is very critical to move as a team and requires lots of helping attitude. You may have to carry backpack of someone who is unable to walk or at times you have to share your water with someone who is more in need. In order to move together the climbers learn to develop that understanding and enter that helping and companionship mode.
Everybody can trek, it’s not a big deal. It would be fruitful if you do little exercise in advance to keep your body cramps-free during trek. And it does not require Deepika Padukon’s exercise schedule. It takes high voltage passion and excitement. You have to be mentally strong and have to have belief in yourself that you can do it because it’s doable. After every trek, you will turn way more mature and stronger person – physically and mentally. You will learn to survive at minimums and react patiently in unpredictable situations. Happy trekking :-D