Early morning, reaching Kathgodam station, a bunch of sleepy trekkers were waiting for their pick up.
I meandered my way towards my friends and soon we were joined by the others as we got out of the station.
We made our way to the nearest Chai Shop we found right outside the station, it was still 5.15 am and our pick up was due at 6.30 am.
That’s when I saw this young girl maybe around 12-13 years old along with her dad. She was going to trek with us too. And I remember Neha mentioning she was the youngest one on this trek.
Her dad paid for our Chai even though we insisted, we were all still a little groggy while Mr.Singapore was as enthusiastic as ever 🙂
Finally when our pick ups arrived Bhim, Neha, Nag and myself loaded our stuff into one jeep. There was another big vehicle that could take in 12-13 people, we were content being with ourselves.
It was the same thing in every new trek. New faces, curiosity, quite apprehensive to mix up and talk and you want to stick to people you are most comfortable with. We briefly spoke to a young chap Akshay from Bombay who was going to intern with Indiahikes as an ATL/assistant
I even considered taking a short walk away from the station and none in my group of my friends were for it and as Bhim put it best, I like trekking man but not walking 🙂
Most of the trekers were there except a few of them, to be precise 3 people. One had come from Dehradun last night and as the drivers pondered about them, we were talking and laughing about everything under the sun.
Finally at 7.15 am we were set to go or at least we thought we did as we got into our jeep. It was just the 4 of us in our vehicle and a couple more would join us en route. Bhim took the front seat next to the driver while 3 of us were at the backseat.
20 minutes into the journey we stopped at a hotel and we saw 3 guys loading their luggage. One young guy got into the bigger one while the two older men climbed into our jeep.
And I remember this clearly, it was a highway and a small puppy was sniffing and eating something off in the middle of the road and I was getting panicky, promptly Bhim and I got out to shoo it off the road, as these vehicles were super fast.
We thought we succeeded in keeping him off the road until we got into the jeep and saw that the puppy went back to where it was before, right in the middle of the road! Certain small incidents like these remind you that sometimes you can try, but you really can’t control what happens.
The two older men were Prashant and Rajinder. Prashant’s friend had done the Roopkund in Trek in May and when he saw the snow clad mountains and the pictures,he decided he would do it and it motivated him to get fit, he also managed to motivate his friend Rajinder.
But throughout the ride they were throwing up and feeling sick, we actually felt quite sorry for them. They had a long journey, then an overnight stay and maybe the motion sickness set in as the vehicle turned across several bends and turns. We would be going to a higher altitude.
I looked at the driver, he was so familiar and then I remembered that he was the same chap who picked us up at the Deorital trek! His name was Narender. He was a safe driver so we had nothing to worry about unlike the crazy cab drivers there.
We stopped at a beautiful place for breakfast. We found a spot with a wonderful view of the mountains up there. The sun in between, that clear sparkling river, the greenery, we were soaking up everything.
As we ordered for Pakodas and Parathas, Bhim posed a question to me. He said, now Tell me what do you see, what do you think when you look at Nag? Like First impression? I was like in what way man? Be specific.
Then the next question he asked I swear would be asked, diagnosed, dissected in different situations during the trek. His question was , Do you think he is Mysterious?
My instant response was NO! Then Bhim told that they were trying to figure out why Nag was still single, like any young man he wanted to date, meet someone nice and somehow it was not happening, maybe the mysterious element is what was required in Nag?
What Bhim knew and what I would know about Nag later was plain and simple. He truly is one of the nicest guys I have ever met.
A good friend, a deep thinker, who gave us gems of quotes and thoughts during the trek. He was a rarity in today’s world.
Thoughtful, caring, placing others needs first before his no matter how urgent or important his own need was. Always the others first.. Maybe it was true, we have become so cynical in life we don’t appreciate a good one when we actually see one..
Amidst conversations, singing Old Hindi songs to English songs, Bhim Nag and Neha singing soft Kannada songs and once a while checking up on our two fellow trekkers, we were on the road for 10-11 hours. We saw the beautiful Karnaprayag following us with it’s blue green waters and ever captivating scenery of mountains, rocks and waterfalls..
Finally around 6.30 pm we reached Lohajung Base Camp. We were greeted by friendly smiling guys whom we hoped would be our Trek Leader. We had an awesome Assistant Trek lead in Devang at Deorital and Bhim and I had really hoped we would meet someone like that, I know it was unrealistic yet we could not help but hope.
The biggest pleasant surprise was when we saw Manojji, the lead guide who was with us at Deorital, Bhim and I was elated, we rushed to him with a big smile and we were so happy. We look for familiarity subconsciously and seeing him was so good as he would be with us on this trek.
Finally we were shown to our rooms,this would be the last night where we would sleep on a comfortable bed, the trek would start early morning tomorrow.
It was time to change, eat, meet, greet and finally see as to who would be our Trek Lead.
I know for sure Bhim and I were a little more anxious than others. We had done the drill before so we were even more eager to find out.
We got another surprise when we bumped into Venkat – Our Trek Lead for Deorital who was now the base camp co-ordinator at Lohajung. A reserved shy guy, he nevertheless was happy to see us, another familiar face for us.
And that’s when we saw our Trek Lead. A skinny petite young man whom one would expect to see in a music festival or at a reggae concert with his bandana and beard than here.
We had to show our cards, ids, those usual mandatory checks. He was serious, not at all communicative, quite cold, he had an aura of don’t come near me.. Something was off about him and that’s how honestly Bhim and I felt..
We were like what?? What the eff… And to top that was his quaint crisp English Accent and cockiness to boot.
I remember Bhim and I exchanged looks and rolled our eyes but wait, in our heart of hearts we still wanted to give him some benefit of doubt and yup we did make a judgement and compared him to Devang, I know it’s unfair yet we tried hard, really hard thinking 9 days with him, let’s give him a chance, let’s not jump into conclusions.
And slowly we met the group, the 12 year old was Pihu who came with her dad, Harsha of course, Mr.Singapore, the older men who took the ride with us, two ladies who were so distant that I thought they were part of Indiahikes team, truly confirming to stereotypes, a typical couple from Delhi and of course the ‘Kannada boys’, more on them later as they added in their own bit and tested most of us through the trek 🙂
Here we all were, disjointed as of now, apprehensive, pensive, excited, nervous and we were gonna start our trek finally! 9 whole days of it and who knew what each day held…