Friday, June 15, 2012

Bhandhak Thatch

 After a long walk we finally reached Bhandak Thatch. The last camp of our trek. The camp was no less than  Switzerland. Green meadows completely covered with grasslands and surrounded by mountains. The sight of cattle grazing on these grassland, tall pine trees covering the forest, far view of the snow mountains and our tents laid out in the middle. Everyone were amused by this sight. I really felt jealous of the camp leader here, for he could stay in this heavenly place for close to a month. The real celebration of completing the trek was so visible today in all of us or may be the very place demanded a celebration.

By this time, my body had started answering, I felt a little tired. I took out my camera and started exploring the camp site. Soon handed over the camera to Suhas. Thought of spending some quite time watching the sun setting.  The energetic group resounded a YES! for any game. No one was inside the tent that whole evening. They played Lagori, Kho-Kho and Dodge ball. I am sure they had great fun. I had fun watching them play.

You can see them in action in this picture. Lagori was in full swing. Every throw that hit the stones, a roaring sound of the group and then the game begins chasing the ball and the other team scattering not to get hit and mean while see that the stones are put back in its place. The games helped them get warmed up. It was an extremely cold evening.

Kho-Kho was like watching a comedy show. People were running left and right and everywhere reminded me of movie scenes of people catching a hen. Few others would ask which direction I can run & by then the players were off the scene... Ha ha!!!

They took a break for soup. We sat on the grass relaxing and passing the soup mugs after having a sip. Kalla dani would go for a second sip and the next person would snatch it from him. The games started again.

After an amazing trek for almost a week, this was the day to just sit and recollect those wonderful moments you had all these days. I have no doubt that every man who has walked this path will cherish them throughout his life. This will be one such chapter of my life which I will recall again and again and forever. Today when I look into those pictures captured while walking on the snow makes me so humble & thankful for all those who made this happen to me. I question myself often, was it really me who experience those blissful days in himalayas. Life is so beautiful!!! So Colorful!!!

Just when you were realizing how colorful our lives were, the nature around was preparing itself to end another beautiful day. The mountains at the horizon hid behind a cover of mist. The sky turned a mixture of colors. Rather the sight was as if different colors danced on the sky just as the painter moves his brush over his art. People who were engrossed in playing came running towards the hills to bid bye and enjoyed the sight of the lovely sky. Golden rays of the setting sun fell on the hills escaping through the tall pine trees. We watched the sky till it became completely dark and walked back to our tents.

After dinner I walked back to this place and sat for some more time with a plan to spend night out there watching the nature all night. Raja, the only impossible guy under the sun only can change such crazy plans of mine. We walked back to our tents.

Temperature was the lowest that night, we experience a 0 degrees. It was difficult to digest this fact when I was told so the next day morning. I was still alive, very much alive. The group quickly packed their bags to start their journey back to base camp after posing in the sun for a group picture. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Biskeri Thatch

A beautiful camp site surrounded by Snow moutains. A small waterfall's melody on the adjacent mountain. A small stream of water ran near the tent. We reached here around 3:30pm. The tea and hot pakodas were already waiting for us on the serving table.

                                                         - Picture taken by Amit Mehta

I was with the last batch which reached the camp as my legs always give hand while climbing down. On reaching late, it is always easy to identify girls tents, look for chappals in red, yellow or with strawberries, flowers on them... :P that will for sure be our tent... Ha ha!!! Our tent faced the waterfall on the opposite mountain. It was an amazing view. It was still sunny at 4pm, we put our clothes for dry after a roll over in the snow for the whole day.

The group sat out for long time sipping in hot soup. Everybody very implicitly celebrating the day, the pride of conquering those tall mountains, the himalyan mountains. A joy we relished every moment being with the nature, being a part of her and in her. Once it got dark there were none outside. We collected our blankets and sleeping bags and packed ourselves inside the tents till the dinner was served. We were all too tired after long hours of trekking. We had our dinner early and said good night. I dint want to sleep so we decided to walk up the path were we got down and sit on those grass patches. But the rest of group were too tired to join me till there. We stood there for sometime and then forced ourselves to disperse to our respective tents.

 - Picture taken by Amit Mehta

The next day morning was again so very beautiful. The view mesmerized many of us and unlike other days, this day I saw lot many people sitting and watching the sunrise. What was so special in today's sunrise I never know, may be people felt that the sun was celebrating our successful completion of yesterday's trek in Sarpass and was congratulating us with his all the more bright rays. Yea I remember he was very bright this morning. I loved the way my day started.

After the usual routine of bed tea, submitting the blankets, breakfast, pack lunch and counting before starting the next day's trek, we started climbing down the hill. I loved today's journey even more as I decided to stay with my group, all these days I kept faster pace but since I knew my weakness I din't want to bother my knees much and so kept a slower pace. And it was truly a rewarding decision for it let me enjoy every color of nature with its leaves, fallen trees, shadow game the sun played with the trees and many many more such beautiful scenes.

By this time Suhas was totally in the world of photography. He dint spare even a single thing that came his way. He clicked and clicked and clicked till he felt it was a good shot. He would them come running to show them to us... :) 

 Manu had his own good time playing pranks and this time Adi had mild heart attack when he heard a big noise from no where and suddenly Manu jumps out of a tree trunk. Earlier Suma was a easy target who was almost in tears in spite of Dani being with her.

After a small rappelling down, we reached the lunch point next to a beautiful water fall. Adi and Raja were tempted to take a dip in it. They appoint Manu to keep a watch. Manu proved a good watchman (of course not by watching them but by taking few nice clicks  ..:P Now don't ask me how do I know that they were nice shots...ok  :P) Here at the lunch point, Suhas and Dani were in the kitchen preparing Omlette for themselves. We had tea which was'nt so good but we would just sip in anything hot in the name of tea. After filling our tummy, we were back on track.

There was a long way to walk to reach the last camp. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Big Day through SARPASS !!!

We reached Tilalotni... the highest altitude of 12500ft at which we would spend a night. The campsite was covered with snow in all directions. It was a treat to our eyes.

Naturally it was very cold here. But we dint want to sit inside the tent and miss a chance to embrace the nature at its best. Sight was so beautiful that our eyes said NO to close even for a while. We climbed on a rock near the campsite and captured several unforgettable shots which are now hung on the walls of my room. I see them every moment I spend in my room. I miss them too!!!

- This picture is one of my favorites!!! I love it so much ... & this is the first thing I see in the morning!!! :)        

After a hot cup of tea and soup, few went exploring the campsite. It was picture perfect place. Manu enjoyed flaunting different poses in front of the camera. Now I know why he likes Pavan Kalyan so much as a hero! My favorite jamoon was served for dinner. We got into our sleeping bags soon after the dinner as we had start our next day trek very early by 4:30AM. No kidding. And so only I remember this camp more or less as a military camp. This being a huge team, we agreed upon waking up at 2:30am. Agreeing is different than executing it guys. Pity me, I dint know that these people were serious about it. The camp men came at sharp 2:30am to every tent and refused to leave untill every person in the tent got up n sat with their tea mugs... Huh. I was as always the last one to do that. I was shouting that I have got up even when I was still lying with my eyes closed. Finally when the tea came I had to get up for it.  The group was ready to start their big days trek to cross Sarpass at 5am. Every one of us were waiting for this day. No doubt this day proved that it is worth all the compromises & risks that were taken just to be here. The feeling of being on top of the world was all ours today. 

We were finally crossing the Sarpass. One of the sherpas who accompanied us was in Byillakuppe for close to a decade. He told us that as soon as we mentioned that we were from Mysore. Small World!!!

The ice was fresh and slippery. Our forclaz shoe with Vibram soles was of great help, the grip it provided at every step on ice made me realize the value of every pie I paid for it. We thanked Rohi for his suggestion on buying this shoe. This was the best and most worthy investment we made for this trek. Since the ice was still fresh and loose our legs would go deep into the ice almost till our knees. Dani knows better than anybody about how slippery and risky it was to walk on fresh ice. He almost missed a heart beat when he fell and tumbled few steps while climbing. Naveen who was right behind him managed to grab this guy and from then Dani was extra cautious while walking on ice. 

We reached the highest point 13800ft. Few jumped with joy, wrote their names on snow, slept on never ending snow posing for the camera and few others clicked pictures with Indian flag. 

After a while the fun game of sliding started. This was the best part of this day's trek ofcourse every bit of this moment at this altitude was like heavenly. We put on our rain pants to slide with rockets speed. We loved sliding so much that we said NO to walk and started sliding even for short distances. And when we tried doing this where there was no slope to slide down we hit our bum like "dhabb" and still refuse to climb up, we used to crawl down with our legs....

After enjoying or rather practicing to slide, we stopped for tea at the tea point. I enjoyed a nice nap, I was probably compensating the short of sleep I had the previous night... :P We then saw the view of Biskeri peak which was almost a 90 degree vertical climb. A rope was tied and let down, holding which we had to climb this stretch which might have been close to 30 feet. 

From the peak, we were now ready for the gaint slide. No rollacoster ride can beat this one. We watched others landing in variety of ways. Few went slowly while the person behind them would come like rockets colliding with others. Those who missed their balance landed on their stomach with snow covered faces. Few rolled and tumbled down. Our hats and rain coats departed from us half way and the person coming behind us would bring them while sliding. people screamed on top of their voice, made various sounds as they slide. I was told that we were sliding at a speed of 41kmph.

It was just the begining, there were several slides further till we reached the next camp. Once we all did this gaint slide, we started playing with ice throwing ice balls at eachother. Your hands literally burns in snow. Maximum tan and frost bite at the sametime can be experience at this place alone. We did another slide curled like left and right to reach the lunch point. We had yummy maggi hear. Raja expressed his love for another round of maggi and the whole team joined for the second serving. Well at every tea point we would sip in endless tea and today we wanted something more to celebrate the success of crossing Sarpass. And maggi got all its credits for joining us in this moment of merimment. We laid ourselves drying in the sun and packed our bags towards Biskeri Thatch. After a short while from the lunch point was another slide. Our guide took us to the middle of one of the mountains and made us slide down. Getting to this middle of the mountain was the most scariest point. I was literally crawling on the snow with both my hands holding the snow deep down. the slide was like ONCE MORE... We entered the forest and by evening 3pm we reached another wonderful camp site BISKERI THATCH. We were so happy for completing the Sarpass and even after a several weeks that I am writting about it, I feel so good about it. I am jumping with joy. And I guess we were all on cloud 9 even after sliding down several slides.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Zirmi - Rain & snowfall composed on the same day!!!

We saw the ZIRMI camp banner and little distance from there it started raining. I stretched out my hands and I could feel small small pebbles of ice falling on my hands. It was blissful.

Zirmi - Meaning Mountain sheep; goat. I somehow liked the name and was waiting for this day. It was no disappointment. A Lovely campsite. We were very close to the snow. You would feel as if a lil more distance and there are, amidst snow.

The camp leader Vivek Khole was our campleader in Caranzol, goa trek as well. It was good to see him again. Even after reaching the camp it lightly drizzled but dint stop us from collecting the hot tea and aloo bonda. We could hear songs from one of the tents, few more joined them.

When the rain gave a break, we took a short walk to a near by hill and started our Music session. Lil later Pallav ji and the camp leader himself joined the show. Romantic numbers by ARR and Md Rafi were recollected. We were all lost in the wonderful blend of music and nature.

                                 - UT thank you for this pic... It brings back lotsa sweet memories!!!!

 Tu hi re... Tu hi re... perfectly set the mood and we all swayed with the tune. Started getting darker and colder, we dint want to disperse... even now while writing about it I feel I want to write more about this evening. It was an unforgettable evening for me! I seriously felt I should start my music classes again.

The camp leader reminded for an early dinner. And it was the best food ever had before. It tasted even more yummier may be because of the cold and other factors, but it was the best. I dint eat, I hogged. Once we were inside the tent after the dinner, it started to rain rats & cats. It rained the whole night. And since the tents were put on a slope, I was worried that the water would run into the tents & made sure I cover my camera with my rain coat. Fortunately we dint have anything like that in spite of the heavy rain. And I slept like a baby and this was the last day I slept so well in the rest of the trek.

                                 - Beautiful view of the Snow mountains. Picture taken by Utkarsh

Every morning, my day would start early, walk to an aloofed place, sit on a rock and wait for the sun to come up. The warmth you feel when the first few rays of sun kisses your skin is so good. I used to sit quiet but with hundred and one thoughts running in my mind. After a while I used to get some calm. It was difficult to get answers for certain subtle questions. But neither I stopped asking them. I used to struggle to come out of that rush of thoughts, the serenity of the nature around helped me enjoy both the noise inside and the peace outside my mind. I used to enjoy this part and hated when they called for breakfast. I refused to move from that place till I see others packing theirs bags and throw them out of the tents. I would then go fresh up, lazily do the packing and get ready for the count.

Hoping to meet Vivek Sir again in another trek with YHAI, we bid bye to him and to his wonderful kitchen staff. After a short distance from Zirmi, we saw small patches of snow dried up and hard. From there it we were walking on snow and as we reached the tea point, there was light snow fall and it became windy. We sheltered ourselves in those tents put up at the tea point. Tea and Maggi continued to do its magic.

There are certain things even the best writer fails to put in words, THE GREAT HIMALAYAS is one such place. I don’t even give a try, for how much ever I try to describe it, it is for sure an understatement. Also its nice to fantasy the mother nature, the way you want and wait for that day to experience it by yourself and for those who have experienced this, they know what I mean. This trek was giving me many first time experiences, snowfall was one among them. I was feeling like standing my arms stretched out feel the snow falling right on my face. We had seen right amount of everything throughout the trek so far. A lil rain and snowfall, like trailers… Poori picture was waiting for us the next few days at sarpass.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Khordu Thatch

Next day trek was in dense forest. We packed our lunch and started our trek to Khordu thatch. Our guide was a local of Shilah village, he spoke all the way keeping us occupied. Our group leader used to be the last person walking. The trek was uphill today. We walked at our own paces, the fast ones used to be with the guide ahead, few would give a stop to click pictures in between and the slower ones at the end. Once in a while we stopped for the rest of the group to reach, take a count and start again. We stopped for lunch after a while. Hot tea, Maggie and Omlete was served. We would go sit next to the fire they had put to beat the cold. 

After trek for another hour and a half we reached the next camp, a warm welcome by the camp leader in Khordu thatch. He was assisted by two MBA students. The tents were put on slopes so sleeping directions changed with every camp depending on the way it was put. 

- One among the two MBA students assisting the camp leader.

We sat on a rock putting our clothes for dry. Soon after the dusk, it used to get colder. Later in the evening tea & peanuts was served for snacks. Hot Soups used to be every bodies fav. We helped ourselves with several rounds of soup along with chit-chat sitting behind the camp. Somewhere in between me and Manu mentioned about our releases scheduled back in ofc that day. We were scolded black and blue for that :P That was the last time the thought of ofc came to my mind. Everything was left far behind after I reached the next camps. Nights used to be extremely cold, we used to sleep very close to each other keeping all our bags at the sides to stop the wind entering the tents from the flapes. 

The next day morning, as usual routine of cleaning the tents was made a little fun. We were asked to decorate the tents and the cleanest tent was awarded. We gathered all fallen leaves and branches to make it look welcoming for the next batch. I am sure SP7 people were spooked to see a horn kept right in front of the tent. Ha Ha… Well it was’nt that bad either.

- Vidya writes a Welcome note for SP7. Nam too at work.

After bidding bye to those wonderful people in Khordu thatch we started trekking in same the dense forest. Within no time we reached the lunch point. Few of them dint want to stop for lunch hence continues further. We relaxed for while stretching in the sun, charging our batteries with solar chargers, tea, omlete  as always and the GUju gang sang songs. Few got down to catch better signals and made calls. Post lunch the weather changed and we wore our rain jackets.

                                                                                     - Anurag, he gave us the task to decorate the tent. Very nicely justified why he awarded the second tent and not the rest. Suma even today repeats few of his dialogues with actions. She seemed to be impressed.. :P

The rest of the day was very beautiful and one of my best experiences in the trek. Would like to write it in the next episode of Zirmi!!!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Kanchani Thatch

The trek to higher camp started on the 4th day. Both SP7 and SP8 lined up to bid us bye. We waited outside the base camp for the bus to take us to our trekking spot from where we were to start our actual trek. We packed our bags on top of the bus and packed ourselves inside.  

The bus moved towards Manikaran and then towards a right. The ride was long and the beautiful view of the hills and the valley below kept all the photographers occupied. We passed by few apple orchards, beautiful houses built in wood and ofcourse the ever flowing river parvathi following down the stream. As soon as we got down the bus and collected our bags, we saw a lady selling the wooden sticks which would help us during our trek. Most of us picked up one and started walking towards the first higher camp. 
The rest of the distance to walk till the Kanchani Thatch was short and the group was is no hurry. We met the first tea point near a small waterfall. We ate our packed lunch and a hot tea. After the early lunch and tea the group was in all mood to catch a nap but the rain gods  had different plans. It started raining heavily, by then we had reached a safe shelter. Few of us locked ourselves in a small room. The large group in the adjacent room started singing while we settled down listening to them and chit-chatting. Once it stopped raining, we reached the first camp KANCHANI THATCH.

The camp leader gave us a short briefing about the campsite and we were advised not to sit inside the tent which will not help in getting acclimatized to the altitude. The group started exploring the places around, the camp site was indeed a very beautiful place. A stream of chilling water was running behind the camp from the hill above. 

After sipping in hot tea, we gathered to play our water bottle game, the bottles got replaced by a socks ball and then the cricket enthusiasts wanted to play 8-8 over match. 

There was more decision making than actual game and it was fun watching them quarrel even for a single run. My job of score board was very difficult. I even tried my hand batting for a over. Not doubt it was a maiden. Manoj & Mayur dived for catch deserving a best fielding award. Dani should have had awarded the best batsman award. 
The night was extremely cold, I was almost shivering when we got a call outside the tent for a session on star gazing. Dhiren Meshvaniya, a star gazer by hobby was to share his learnings on astronomy. I dint want to miss it. Struggled to keep myself warm, the hot bournvita certainly helped. The cold was gone as we got lost in the sky watching stars and satellite. We enjoyed our journey watching the Saptharishi, Pole star, Swathi, Chitra and several other star and constellations in the sky. Its amazing to understand how we do identify the directions keeping the stars for reference. I sometimes got lost but dint miss bear, a man, lion, fish formations the stars made, for which we address them as sun signs. I was so excited when I saw satellites in the night sky for the first time. Night sky is a world in itself, it has so much in its treasure to amaze you, especially at this altitude where there are only mountains in all directions. 
There is so much to learn for a person like me who knows nothing about astronomy. Yeppie, could be a new hobby!! Noted down.

It was an extremely cold night. I realised only after the session got over. Ran back into the tents and started  star gazing inside the sleeping bag.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Kasol - "I am climbing..."

I could still hear Mithun Da making some announcements and I realised I need to get up and assemble for the PT. Pulling out of the sleeping bag was a big job in that cold mornings. We would jog from the camp to that ground close by and same set of 1 2 3 4 ... would start. I made a point to stand at a corner to somehow escape from the eyes of Sushmaji. 

It was SP5 group's turn to leave for the higher camp. we wished SP5 A Happy & Safe Trek as they walked the ramp. Today we would be doing Rock Climbing and Rappelling. We walked for while to reach the place for rappelling. Lakshman briefed about the rope, glove and other equipments used for rappelling. After watching him climb down, every one waited for their chance to get into the harness and started descending.

There was a long queue who wanted to give a try. While few of us took shelter in shade and surrendered to nap. When the queue reduced, we climbed up the rock from a side and started descending.

After this me and Dani took a short walk to where the stream was running. We came across this tree fallen across the stream. A fallen tree is always our fav place to sit and take pics. It dates back to my engineering days, we used to stop our vehicle every time we saw a fallen tree... sit on its trunk and take some crazy pics.   I went and sat on it watching the water flowing below it.

We came back to the same spot for rock climbing after having lunch at base camp. I had done artificial rock climbing in the past but this was a natural rock. So it excited me. Lakshman described about different climbing ways. I remember two ways of climbing one was classic and the other I dont recollect. He gave us a demo. Before one starts climbing, he has to tell "I am climbing" for which the person sitting above with rope controls replies with "Climb on". similarly if you fall off in between we had to say "I am falling" while falling. Now this was difficult. I would have fallen and then realise that I had to tell something.... They also showed pencil hold, and several others where you could keep your feet while climbing. 

After few guys went up I started climbing. It was challenging. You need good strength in your hands to pull your whole body on it. I enjoyed it as long as I did it myself. There was this last stretch where I struggled to pull myself and Parvinder Thakur helped me at the end to complete. Lakshman had mentioned that we need to climb this part a little  “PYAAR SE” (Wondering how much pyaar se… My pyaar was certainly not on that rock :P) people started calling me “Mountain Goat” after this climb. 

After completing the task I took a nap in the shade. Others also joined the group and from no where the idea of playing with 2-3 water bottles(throwing randomly at others) hoped in and we had a gala time throwing the bottles quickly at others before they were ready for it. I still remember what Adi did (He threw the bottle where nobody was standing and when he realized that he himself started running behind it.. Dude was it Altitude problem :P). Ha ha… Even today when I see the scratches on the water bottle, it brings a smile on my face.

Back in the camp, we enjoyed snacks and tea. Me and Raja sat near the steps for a long time waiting for our mobile and camera batteries to get charged. After a yummy dinner, we enjoyed another camp fire by SP7. Hot BournVita gave warmth for a good night sleep before we leave for higher camp the next day.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Sarpass - Day 2 in Kasol

A hot tea at 5:30AM would kick start the day. By 6:00 we were all up & ready for a morning jog followed by exercises. Our rock climbing guides Lakshman, Thakur, Sushma and few others made us huff n puff early in the morning. They would make us stand in a big circle and call out 1 2 3 4 till 8 and then back to ... 3 2 1. I would have stopped somewhere at 4 and would enjoy watching others struggling to complete with the count. Sushma madam used to make a face and say "what is there to laugh come on do your excercises properly..." And I would still do the same.. :P Dani & Suhas made fun of my jogging. It seemed to them as if I was dancing like a duck. Dani immitates me jogging even today, Dani I know you are a great actor... Ha ha!! By the time we finish the warm up, we would sweat like pigs even in that cold weather. For tomorrow's session I knew where I need to stand. After the exercise we would walk back to the camp.

After having breakfast, SP4 was to leave for the higher camp. We lined up on both the sides of the ramp to wish them luck. Sathyanandan Sir was busy giving instructions to those people while the participants boasted their spirits by dancing together with their group, clicking pictures before leaving. And finally they waved at us through the ramp as we clapped the YHAI clap 1 2 123 1 2 123... till the last person left the camp.

For acclamatization walk, we packed our rucksack with blankets and water bottles and few people carried the whole stuff that they would carry to higher camp. It was like a morning walk in the woods. Mithun Da lead the team sorry.. it was few dogs leading us :P. We stopped at some place and sat in a group playing Anthakshari. Initially the group was a little hesitant but when Mithun Da took charge, every one joined humming the tunes.

 Few turned out to be real good singers. And when someone is singing good or there is a nice number the group is singing I just cant stop myself singing it. I easily get lost while singing few old numbers of Md Rafi, in general all old hindi songs. Patil Ji was sitting behind me all this time hinted that I should sing a song in the campfire. But I had no plans to pester these peace loving people by doing so esp when they have come all the way looking for some peaceful time. Ha Ha!!! This walk helped us to get acclamatise with the group more that with the weather.                      

Post lunch we had a orientation by the camp leader SanthyaNandan. He gave a big bhaashan in the noon.  The very thought of sitting and listening a lecture for such long time gives me a great pain. I hate to disappoint my eyes who'll be crying to close after a nice afternoon meal. We choose a group leader Sharmaji, deputy leader Urmil Patel and Meena, our environment leader. I made efforts not to doze off by playing with my water bottle, disturbing Suma and Suhas who were sitting next to me. And finally I was glad it got over.

                                                                   - Kasol market

Later in the evening we went out for shopping in the kasol market buying woolen gloves, torch and other stuff required. There were many shops lined up in the street close to our camp with colorful glowes, socks, sweeters displayed. One can pick up really nice woolen clothes for cheap prices.

We had an awesome campfire. SP6 had majority of them from Karnataka mostly living in Bangalore. A small group from Gujrath and Maharashtra. This time Patil Ji cheered the crowd by reciting funny poems in hindi. When I invited him to perform on the stage he reminded me that I have to sing a song after this. Not to disappoint him and many of my friends request I did sing two lines from my fav song "Yeh Saman Saman hey ye pyaar ka..." I sing bad but I honestly enjoy it. Not to miss Pallavji’s singing, Patel’s Basuri and Kannada songs by Suhas and “HIS BOYS”. We winded up the campfire by singing the National Anthem and lined up for the BournVita queue.

Even when it is time for lights off, Mithun Da would still go on n on making announcements or again running for something. I used to wonder when this guy managed to get some sleep... I guess he could be making announcement even in his dreams. "Last call to collect your pack lunch" "SP6 line up" "submit your blankets" "After lights off no one should be seen outside your tents" and the list goes on...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sarpass - On reaching Kasol base camp

It was a big dream of mine to visit The Great Himalayas. Two weeks of leave were a huge concern but this dream I knew was worth making any compromise. We booked our flights even before getting our leaves sanctioned. We shopped endlessly almost every weekend in April.  I was excited like a kid with every day getting closer to this trek. We kept our day schedule tight with workouts both in the morning and evening. Finally the big day on May 5th arrived, we flew to delhi and took a overnight HPTDC bus to reach Bhuntar. A local bus from Buntar took us to Kasol base camp in Kullu dist. I caught sight of snow mountains on our way to base camp and I was like WOW!!!! 

- Route Map of Sarpass Trek

The base camp was in a beautiful town of Kasol. River parvathi flowing right behind it. Her gushing sound all through the day set a endless music at the camp. The water in the taps were chilling. Forget taking bath, I had to think twice to even wash my face with that finger numbing cold water. More than 15 tents put in a large ground which is hired by YHAI every year during this sarpass trek season. Mithun Da was taking care of running this camp smoothly, he himself used to be running all the time for everything :P Amazing chap!!! 

             - Picture of Camp site at Kasol taken by Amit Mehta, one among those who see more through lens than throw eyes.

This being my second YHI trek, I was not surprised by the tents and the crowd in Base camps. We had our breakfast, bread butter jam and eggs. We were worried about having bread for breakfast whole of our trek, but fortunately that was not the case. We took our sweet time to occupy and settle down in our tents and relaxed for a while.

Just walk a while outside the camp and you see endless Israeli crowd roaming in weird dresses. No doubt the locals were accustomed to these guests and made their stay cosy in India. I was concerned about this and later I was told that tourist from Australia and Israel are common in Kasol being it cheaper than Manali and they are here for not more that 6 months.

Post Lunch, guys enjoyed a nice sleep in their tents while me and Suma wanted to explore the place with our camera. We took a bus in front of the base camp to Manikaran, 5km away. Manikaran  is located in the Parvati Valley between the rivers Beas and Parvati. It is famous for Hot springs. Manikaran is a pilgrimage centre for Hindus and Sikhs. A Gurudwara and Ram Mandir in the same temple complex. This place is crowded by piligrims visiting the gurudwara throughout the year. There is a pool where you can take bath in the hot water and on the other side of this bridge connecting the temple we can see boiling hot water gushing into the river.

 Back in the base camp, after a round of tea and snacks, We went for a short walk to the near by market enjoying the beauty of this little town. The houses in kasol built with wood were beautiful to look at, naturally for a person who is so tired of seeing concrete structures everyday. There are beautifully built structures standing amidst green fields. The town is surrounded by hills in all directions. Every hill is covered with pine trees. Little googling about kasol tells us that there is only one school which teaches only upto class 7th. Further the students either travel to Manikaran or Kullu to continue their studies. And we happened to see this school on our evening stroll. The school facing a temple, had not more than 20-25 students mostly girls. In a beautiful place like this it is natural that kids wont want to waste their lives sitting in those boring classes rooms and ruin their chilhood (I am being honest :P). The school had this big board telling "Honesty is the best policy" and several other boards of sarva siksha abhayan. Yea but I felt I should come here sometime in my life and work for these students in such schools where education is still not commercialised. 

Back in camp we had the first campfire. It was time to sing "Fire Fire CampFire". I still find this part very funny in YHI. Then started the performances by SP5 group. I cannot forget the Kargil story fabulously narrated by Chandrashekar Patil ji from Maharashtra. 
- Eco friendly Camp fire!!!

We collected our sleeping bags and kambal, next ten days we would spend our nights in these sleeping bags and Kambal. After sipping a hot cup of Bournvita the lights went off and we into our sleeping bags