We were all set to do a small trek before the D day next day.
Yes we were going to Chandrashila next day.It was the summit of Tungnath. An altitude of 13,000+ feet.
Chandrashila literally means ‘Moon Rock’ and there are so many legends and stories to it. This summit gives a spectacular view of the Himalayas. On a good day one could see Nanda Devi, Trisul, Kedar peak on the Summit.
Tungnath temple had it’s own stories to it and was associated mostly with the legend of Pandavas and their devotion to Shiva.
Manojji the trek guide would regale us on stories and legends of the peaks. Adi Shankaracharya was linked to the construction of the temples.
The trekking distance from Chopta to Tungnath would be 4 kms following which would be a 700 metre steep ascent to Chandrashila Summit.
The weather was wonderful, in fact very sunny during the day. Most of us had expected to see some snow at the Summit and it looked like there would be none.
Devang mentioned they were doing this trial trek just to guide us through do’s and don’ts. They didn’t expect any snow but if it was raining a bit or there was some ice then it was more dangerous as that would lead to serious injuries.
It was really not a prep trek when I look back at it in hindsight, I feel they just wanted to keep us awake and keep busy and not rest up too much and it’s true, because once one gets into the resting mood, it’s very difficult to pull oneself up.
As we started walking and taking in the scene, we stopped at a point where Manojji made us rest and spoke about Pandavas and how they were responsible for setting up Temples called the ‘Panch Kedar’ and Tungnath was one of them .
Pankaj as usual was going forward, ahead in his own path slowly walking not looking back. He was not his usual self. The asthma was catching up and I feel it was the stress too, big stress.
We saw Rudra following him along with Bhim. We rested up then we saw Devang bolting towards the direction where Pankaj left. He was pretty tensed and I saw Venkat on walkie talkie and speaking.. We knew something was up..
I just hoped Pankaj was ok or he is not lost. Because believe me, no matter how confident one becomes, it’s always good to understand our limitations when we explore unchartered territories.
I could see the concern on every trek leader and guide’s face. I heard someone saying. why did Pankaj get away from the group? Why does he always go ahead when we all should walk together? What can I say.
Everybody has a different temperament and especially in a diverse group such as this, it is very rare that everybody would toe the line. What we might see in one person exists in us too, just that we react differently.
Did I want to ask why Pankaj was always moving ahead of the team? No, each one has their journey and own reasons and consequences to bear.
As we waited until Manojji diverted us with stories, I saw Rudra and Bhim coming back, they were led back to the group. I asked Rudra, where did you go? He said I followed ‘THE MAN’ Pankaj and I asked what do you mean?
He said because THE MAN knew his way and was walking and I had to walk because it’s HIM! I only said, Follow your own path man.
Later Bhim told me he had the Inhaler with him and he followed Pankaj because Pankaj said just in case he would require it as he didn’t carry it with him.
We came to a point where we saw a small patch of snow a little uphill. The group got berserk and decided to make the most of it.
Bunny, Rudra, Bhim, Ridhi and bunch of others sprinted/climbed uphill and started hurling snowballs. It was fun as they were targeting anyone who was in front or were trying to hide 🙂
That patch of snow no longer existed and we were quite satisfied ki chalo at least we experienced this, so what if there is no snow at the summit tomorrow?
Now let me tell you about the ‘Ambareesh’ walk! This was something that Bhim told me the day before as my knees was killing me during descent.
If you are a South Indian, and if you had a good idea on movies in South, you would know Ambareesh, the Kannada actor. So Bhim said, this man walked ‘sideways’, yup sideways in normal routine life. Just swaggered and walked sideways and he said that kind of walk helps during descent.
Believe me, it helps! Doesn’t look odd, looks quite cool actually 🙂
So guess what I did, started practicing little by little albeit sometimes failing, the Ambareesh walk during descent. Now this is something I think I will practice on my future treks!
As we walked back to the campsite, through the Bhugyals and the sights around us, Bhim was playing some beautiful songs on his phone and I remember humming it. Listening to it there in that open vastness is something else..
I also remember us reminiscing about that iconic tv series ‘The Wonder Years’.
Rudra Bhim and myself were talking about another iconic show ‘Friends’ and Bhim mentioned The Wonder Years. Oh man… to recollect Kevin to ‘Winnie Cooper’, she was every guy’s crush 🙂
Bhim said he had the entire series. Now that’s being a true fan! I remember us urging Rudra to just watch the damn series.
Side Note: For all those who have missed The Wonder Years just go to youtube and watch it if it’s there, even two minutes. It talks of an era as the boy grows up and watches the world around him changing right from the late 50’s..
We reached our campsite and it was time to rest up and do our own stuff. As for me, all I did was keep my head in the tent and legs out and looked at the sky. It was pure bliss. Each one was in their zone.
I remember listening to Gerry Rafferty’s Right down the Line, The Beatles Here comes the Sun. I was listening to this 90s hindi band Silk route’s song Dooba Dooba and I saw Devang humming it as he was crossing the tent and smiling back.
Venkat was checking if we were all at the campsite. I overheard him talking to Pankaj and Jogen who were in the next tent saying nothing to worry about, no pressure let’s see tomorrow how it goes.
So I asked him, is there something I have to be worried about climbing the summit because of my knees? He said Na, not you. You will be fine.
The clouds were looming large, getting a little darker, where were these coming from?
In the evening, we had some group activities and this time we all participated whole heartedly.
Two teams, one led by Kishore and another by Devang playing guessing numbers game using body parts tapping as codes. It sounds weird or maybe I am making it sound weird but it was super fun! It was a proper team effort there.
Kishore was our team leader and he truly was keeping us in line! So the moment we won a point, we would break lines and hoot and jump and he would get us back in line! Can I say that our team won it hands down?? Ha the simple pleasures of life! 🙂
Next was Random Shit game and believe me total random shit! To say nonsense is a task and to say it well is something else.
Now it was serious business. Summit trek tomorrow. BIG DAY. Prep and all.
We were assembled and told we would start at 4 am. Yes 4 am. Which means wake up at 2.30 am, eat even if you weren’t up to it, pack food , gear up and get going.
The idea was to reach the summit by 7.30 am for the sunrise and we couldn’t wait there for too much time. If we had time, we could have a bite or just climb down from the summit after 10 -15 minutes.
They gave us ‘Gators’ , we would put this on with our shoes if there was ice. This would help us give balance and not slip. Pointy strong Chains in the shape of a shoe and they clearly specified if anybody forgot Sunglasses, they had no option but to back off walking tomorrow because Sun blindness would happen.
It was very clear. Hydrate. Eat. Prepare.Gear Up.
And yes we had to eat by 6.30 pm and sleep off by 7.30 pm and they made sure we got in to our tents whether we wanted to sleep or not. I remember throughout the day we were fed at intervals.
We packed our day pack and kept it aside at night. All we had to do is wake up, brush,eat, gear up and leave at 4 am..
It was a heady exciting day ahead for all of us.It slowly started drizzling a bit later in the night.
How could anyone sleep well thinking of all that excitement ahead. I kept my alarm at 2 am and chatted a bit with Omshree.
How was it going to be? Will we see some snow? How will the summit be?