The journey started on Thursday, 5th February. Coincidently, I happen to be born on the same day. Agreeing to the point Pankaj wrote in his blog too, ideally, someone of my age would be partying and drinking with their friends since it was a ‘Birthday night’. But here I was, leaving for a trek for the first time in my life. I started from home in a confused state of mind trying to fit things in my bag pack and thought, whether I will find people like me, how will I manage, will it be too cold etc.Little did I know that these questions in my mind are going to be so irrelevant at the end of the journey. I have hardly travelled, so on my 24th birthday I decided that I should finally travel alone. But was I alone. Really? We’ll see.
I marched towards Kashmere gate with my parents following me like I was kid who is likely to be lost in the Diagon alley. I don’t blame them. It’s a common anxiousness among parents when their child has grown smarter and faster than they had expected her to be. It’s funny but sentimental. Someone directed us to the Dehradun volvo bus where I found scattered group of people looking around, observing the other new entrants to the field, welcomingly.
The bus journey was followed by the ‘Dhoom’ ride in the traveler. No doubt it was fun except for a few who were so excited that they couldn’t sustain things inside their stomach. Just kidding. Rest were just mute spectators who didn’t speak much because they hardly knew the other entrants. So, the silence was a result of game theory! I won’t speak because you won’t speak and so no one spoke! Bad joke? However, the lull was followed by some strange Punjabi songs which brought us to life again.
We halted at a Dhaba which had a great scenic view, only directing us to more such scenic beauty that lies ahead. Continuing the journey for another hour after breakfast, we stopped only to begin our trek journey towards the base camp. Oblivious to the fact that I also had a slight pain around the knee, I buckled up myself for the uphill journey ahead. To complement the background silence, the clicking of the cameras, I heard a ‘pop’ sound in my left knee finding myself on the ground. Cursing myself with tears expressing anger at the unknown power who couldn’t stop me from going further on this trek even it was an unbearable pain, I got up after some first aid application. I stood up with some support, with my knee ‘giving up’, it adjusted to its position (I felt so) and I was normally walking again. I actually felt so embarrassed at what had just happened, I wanted to hide myself behind a mountain shrub.
We started walking uphill, one hill and perhaps many hills. Feeling of losing my breath sometimes in the middle of the way, I questionedmy sanity once. But we all managed it happily supported with the jokes, laughter, stories of fellow entrants now turned fellow travelers during the journey. I now understand, it was an essential warm up exercise. Simple!
The only line that kept us going was when we got ‘Bas agaya’ as the answer to the question on how far is our camp. The idea was to follow the trail, wherever it may lead, will lead us right. Although we did try and find deadly shortcuts and compared the likelihood of skidding from there verses the normal route. We reached the base camp, saw it with our own twinkling eyes which saw huge traces of snow on the way augmenting our satisfaction and joy.
Here you go!
The rest of them preferred to keep things slow without testing their ligament strength for a ‘chidiaud’ picture. After this ‘leg-is-gone’ journey, we all sat on peculiar relaxing stools which particularly excited me. There are no reasons for something. Period! I will take this an opportunity to present them here for fellowtravelers to forcefully appreciate them. Please!
The dawn came, graciously crowning the mountain peaks followed by the supreme chilly winds. The air was so fresh! I didn’t feel poetic at all back there because all I was trying to focus on shielding myself with not-possible-to-wear number of layers. All of us then focused our energies on lighting the bonfire. It was an insightful representation of how people in the Stone Age with minimal resources may have survived. The fire encouraged us to sing songs, new songs, old sweet ones, to-be-sung ones and the rest. After a well-cooked delicious supper, we headed to our respective tents where we cozily wrapped ourselves into sleeping bags. Feeling like tired and heavy sacks, we slept, peacefully.
Surviving the morning frozen winds was the hardest, brushing our teeth in that set up, second hardest. It was lovely to see the sunrise dogging between the mountains and then finally showing up. We packed ‘paranthas’ for lunch and set for the nag tibba point. Moving forward in no time, we could see snow all around with long trees firm on the ground, scattered. The trail was picturesque and alluring. We couldn’t stop clicking our cameras at every step. Going further, as the mountain flattened we saw a white sheet of snow without any edges.
There was unlimited snow with just our group and no other inhabitants. For the first 10 minutes my mind couldn’t register the vastness I was witnessing. I lied down on my back to feel it. Yes, that was it. Craziness got us over, someone was sliding down, some were playing with the snow and some like me, just gazed around in amazement.
We all reached the nag tibba point and sat there peacefully. Sitting there at the top, we could see the other vast land, with no boundaries at all. Sitting in the lap of nature and appreciating the weather, we ate lunch, chocolates, khajoor and dry fruits.
Our journey downhill was the best part of the day. Holding each other’s hands for support so as to avoid skidding, we managed to cross some portion of the mountain. We felt like snow champions, ready to go anywhere and everywhere with the skills developed so far. This thought actually brought a lot of confidence in me! And there we were, smoothly sliding our way through the clear trails. The beauty of the trail was augmented by listening to varied experiences of my friends on the trek. Simple talks, laughing and commenting without any hesitation we were away from the maddening crowd and traffic of metros, loud noises, everything. Second day had passed and I had forgotten about my knee pain. I believe, nature has its own way of healing things. I had cough, cold and viral fever before the day we left for Dehradun. But, it made me forget about all of it, everything was magically cured.Our cooks welcomed us with macaroni and soup. We gorged on it, literally. While drying our clothes and shocks, we all sat there and chatted for quite a long time. Sunset was magnificently beautiful. We saw a clear sky with millions of stars. Was it venus? Saturn or north star! We argued. The weather was still, allowing us to light the bonfire for a longer time. Dinner was mouth- watering. I miss it.
It was the third day, we woke up never wanting to leave this place. But we had to, only to come back again. It was nostalgic to pack our stuff, leave our tents and gearing up for the final trek of the three day journey. The path was stony, beautiful with sky touching trees blessing the surface beneath them.Indeed, it was a road less traversed. It was the longest trek of the whole journey, but it didn’t tire us. The ride back to Dehradun was peaceful.
Since the time I am back from the trek I feel like I have achieved something. Something that will help me forget about my fears. I am lucky to have such beautiful memories that can keep me smiling. I have something to look forward to. The wonderful people I met on this journey, makes me feel more connected to life than ever. This is just a newadventures beginning of my life with more such expeditions. I look forward to all of them. And now about the ignorance part, Well! Remember the mention of a ‘popping’ sound in my knee? That my friend, was an anterior cruciate ligament tear. Now I know! Oblivious to the fact that I was no longer sufficiently capable of completing my journey, I went ahead surpassing my fears, pain and even my own self.I am so thankful for my ignorance lest I would have spent my days never realizing what I may have missed.Thank you Bikat and all my fellow travelers for being a part of this great journey.