Waking up early morning we saw there was no drizzle but Yes post the Hailstones, there was snow and ice on the mountains and it was beautiful.. Really beautiful..
Again the thought came in my head, God, please No surprises during Summit Day.
Although we were caught in a snow blizzard at Tungnath in April, as Bhim put it, it was like a blessing. Truly felt like one as we walked through deep snow and saw the entire scenery changing within minutes.
Roopkund though was something else. Getting stuck in snow or rain didn’t paint a pleasant picture. We were thinking about the previous team who might be on their way to the summit right at this moment..
We got our breakfast and oxymeter readings done. I was coughing since Bedhini Bugyal. The mistake I did was drinking and gulping water when I would feel thirsty in the middle of the night. The water was freezing cold, so one had to first take in water, gargle it and then swallow. My throat caught big time and this cough was tiring me out.
When I told Imroze about it, he told me not to worry and to just take some Lozenges. Bhim had a couple of them and he gave it to me.
We were set to go now. Looking up and trying to just trek up from the campsite was a challenge. The first mini stop would be a Dhaba and that looked way up and from there we would wade through Zig Zag razor sharp turns.
Trying very hard not to think of those very steep ascents, we trudged along. In an hour we could truly feel the air getting thinner, we were gasping, taking stops in between, resting up and then again going. This was very challenging to say the least.
It was rocky, very rocky ,an almost vertical steep ascent and this would go on for another couple of hours till we reached Kalu Vinayak, at an altitude of 14,550 feet and from there we would descend a slightly better path to our campsite Bhagwa Basa.
But first the terrain.. There are moments when you just want to give up, you wonder why are you doing this. Why are you paying for this pain? 🙂
And yup thoughts like that do meander in your head. Yet somehow, you keep going on, you look at the scenery unfolding and changing around you and this motivates you to keep going on.
Added to that are the friends you are with and the new friends you make and somehow that keeps you going too. Seeing them, some breezing through, some huffing and puffing and some just giving you company by chatting on something or the other.
The one important thing we learnt while trekking in the mountains was to NEVER ask how many kilometres! It really doesn’t make sense. We might have trekked just 6+ kilometres but so bloody different in every sense.
We stopped asking Manojji how many hours/ minutes altogether. His ten minutes was equivalent to our One hour!
We were dying to reach the Elusive Kalu Vinayak, the first stop. From there Manojji assured us the trek to the next campsite would not have ascents, it would be way better from there. But what we were told about was the view we were going to get..
It was so steep at one point we even wondered if we will reach Kalu Vinayak on time, and finally up there we heard shouts from the first group reaching there. It looked like they were on a cliff and encouraging us to come up faster. I could see people going Woo Hoo! What was there?
And there we saw… the beautiful Trishul.. the landscape could take your breath away.. You just wanted to give it all up because you have seen it all.. Stark rocky landscape and this magnificent snow clad mountains, so close, just so close..
We had to move away from the rest and get some lone time and I wanted it more than ever.. Bhim went to a spot, Harsha to his, Vinayak to his spot and I to my spot.. Looking at the mountain I remembered my father’s tenth anniversary that was three days ago..
How could I forget it? I also realized one of the major reasons I took these dates was I wanted to be away from it all on my Dad’s anniversary. I didn’t want those sad phone calls from my loved ones, I knew they meant well but it reminded me more of his loss..
And looking at the mountains, I cried softly. Tears flowing, looking at Trishul and talking to my father.. How this journey happened..From Tungnath to Kedarnath to this.. I missed him and I knew he would have been so happy seeing me experience this..
I looked around and I saw Neha coming towards us, I wiped my tears and we found a spot away to sit. Bhim was behind, Neha close by while Vinayak was picking up trash that was littered by previous trekkers/locals..
It burst out of me just like that, I told Bhim about forgetting my dad’s tenth anniversary..He said I am sure he would have been proud of his girl doing this by herself. It brought me to tears feeling such kindness from a friend. Sometimes just a few words are required.
We took a good break at Kalu Vinayak, almost an hour +. Imroze was waiting for news on the previous team and their summit on his Walkie Talkie. 19 made it to Roopkund and further up was another summit Junargali, 16 made it from a team of 21 trekkers.
Also they had to come back to Bhagwa Basa, pack up and descend back to Pathar Nachauni, so we had to wait until they exited the campsite.
Finally when he got the go ahead we started moving towards Bhagwa Basa.. Because of the higher altitude another scene completely different unfolded. The colours of the mountains here were different, flowers blooming out of rocks, it was so surreal!
It was almost afternoon and we saw the mist setting in and enveloping us.. There was a bit of drizzle. Wow.. It was truly a Wow moment for us as we walked through it, it was getting really cold and yet it felt so good walking amidst all this..
And then we saw it..
The BRAHMAKAMAL – yup the rare Legendary Mythological flower that blooms only from July to September. Said to be coming from Brahma – the God of Creation in Hindu Mythology. It was rare and elusive.. Imroze already informed us that we will be fortunate enough to see this rare flower.
And Behold! we did see not just one but almost a mountain of them on either side while we were walking! There are few moments when you can go OH MY GOD! This was one of them!
We were dazzled by the spectacle! We didn’t know what to say! Everywhere surrounding us, we were walking through hundreds of Brahmakamals on either side! How more blessed can one feel? I was getting overwhelmed by all this. First Trishul and now this.
This rare elusive legendary flower…
The only thing that could have ruined the moment, well almost was when the camera happy Delhi couple and their dunderhead nephew went down to touch and take a selfie, worst is when he tried to pluck it.
I couldn’t control myself and told him sternly and firmly not to even touch it. He was like Why? I will take one back home! I was short of taking my trekking pole and hitting him I swear! I said aloud JUST DON’T! LET IT BE!
As we started reaching the campsite, we saw the previous team already on their way out. They wished us Good Luck while we congratulated them.
The moment we reached Bhagwa Basa, it was raining, again a pleasant Himalayan drizzle and the mountains surrounding it was covered in mist, absolutely no visibility.
Bhagwa Basa was completely on rocks. So even in the tent with the carpet, we could feel the rocks, it was going to get mighty cold in the night with the cold seeping in from the rocks.
Imroze did a briefing with all of us on tomorrow’s summit day with the technical team and Bhim and I were glad to see Pratap. He was with us at Deorital and we got a chance to meet him at Bedhini Bugyal. He wouldn’t be with us this time but he was briefing us about the essentials.
The Delhi couple and that nephew were still parading in one jacket and Imroze told firmly Just Go and Wear your layers! We are at a much higher altitude and one could not take any chances.
Manojji repeated again and again, tomorrow was the D day. We had to maintain one line and we must NOT overtake anyone. We had to watch out for each other and help each other. There was no room for selfishness and ME MYSELF FIRST. Well we could only hope the Delhites, Kannada Boys and the Aunty-Niece combo toed the line.
As Neha and I were moving into the tent, in came Pihu and said I want to be with you two, can I stay with you guys? We happily let her in. She was sweet enough to keep her entire backpack with her dad and just had a daypack. She was assuring us she won’t take much space 🙂
When we asked her as to why the change suddenly? She said with a straight face, I don’t have enough space to sleep with the other two women – the Aunty Niece Combo. We were like are you kidding me? She was a tiny 12 year old, how much space does one require? But we refrained from asking anything else and let her in.
Post Lunch, with some time off, Neha,Pihu and myself played Dumb Charades. It was again hilarious as Pihu could pull out bizarre and ridiculous Hindi film names we never heard of! She said she knew mostly Hindi movies and so we played Dumb Charades on that. She also spoke about her Mum, her younger sister who was 10, her dad and her life in Pune.
She was an overweight kid till she was 9 until she picked up Karate and Basketball. She recently attended a Karate Championship in which she won a Gold Medal before coming here. And yup she was already planning Everest Base Camp in October/November with her Dad. What an inspiration right? Here she was, so different.
While other kids were cramming in the classrooms, stuck in their cities, she was gaining life experiences, meeting people from different parts of the country, meeting independent women who lived their life differently. She was learning so much more..
She said she wanted to become a fighter pilot, so Neha suggested her to join NCC, to look for colleges post 10th grade that offer that.
Pihu I can say will always be imprinted in my heart and mind. Such energy and a desire to explore.. I will always think of her in my prayers.
Just before Chai time, Vinayak and Harsha were playing a game with ropes that Manojji had shown us at Deorital. Nag joined in and took his own rope and devised theories to entangle himself out of it and it lead to him completely locking his own arms in the rope 🙂 Yet he would still remain in that position devising ways to get out of it.
Imroze made us these amazing snacks during Chai time. I call it fried sweet balls of heaven! It was so yummy we hogged! It was also addictive!
Post that we again played the game of Mafia! Yup Mafia became a popular game because there was so much of intrigue suspicion betrayal and accusations that were a part of it! Everybody was enthused and more with Mr.Singapore, who would never allow anyone to talk, or butt in to somebody’s conversation always 🙂
This time even the Kannada boys joined in and played and I remember a moment when suddenly the sociable one among them tapped me and said in Telugu, Look Look at the sunset! And When I did, it took my breath away.
How many sunsets look like this? It seemed like the Sun, the clouds were colluding with each other and the mist was adding it’s own character..
It was almost 6.30 pm. We had to finish our dinner fast, get into the tent fast. We were sleeping in the clothes we would wear and get going tomorrow. Our day packs were ready and kept aside. We would start sharp at 5 am tomorrow.
Neha being on Diamox was normal and continuing her dose. I was coughing quite a bit and I was getting scared and worried now. Will I be able to do the summit? This damn cough was going nowhere!
My oxymeter readings barely touched normal level so Imroze told me to take half of the pill now and half of it in the morning, to be on the safe side. I was game for it, anything to get me going to the Summit tomorrow.
Keeping all our fears aside, we got into the tent. That night Neha, Pihu and I prayed aloud. Prayed for the safety of everyone, that no one should get hurt, prayed that everyone should make it to the summit, humbly thanked the mountains for what it gave us so far and to accept us all tomorrow with the same love.
It was just a matter of few hours now…