It was a beautiful morning as we got set for the trek. There were limited number of jeeps so some of them had to really get on top of the jeep and Tanmay made sure not all 20 of them would get on top of it 🙂
We were duly warned by the Indiahikes team that it was one hell of a bumpy ride for an hour and one didn’t want a hard bum massage followed by a 13 km trek! This was enough for people to want to get inside the jeep. But there were brave souls who did sit on top of the jeep, the Pune gang and a few others.
And boy was the ride bumpy and dangerous with practically no roads and wading through streams as the jeep pulled its way through! We wondered about the condition of the ones on top of the jeep! We looked at the driver and thanked him as he was THE GOD to us right now, our lives were in his hands. And yes people, it was THAT BAD.
We were leaving civilization behind and it felt good, there was just the mountains and us now.
As the ascents started and we all started trekking, this is one thing I have experienced and seen, almost everyone starts off like a race, walking fast, rushing up to reach whatever comes next initially but this group was different, no one was pushing others to walk upfront at least I didn’t see that. I decided to go at my own pace, in fact the last the better.
What was the point of trekking if one had to get to one campsite from the other? The whole point was to take in the surroundings as one walked along, paced themselves slowly. It was beautiful, as we walked along side the river streaming and gurgling with us. Tanmay made sure he was walking along in between, checking gently, and with his experience he knew who needed help.
We were already having certain casualties. Sharon, the girl from Chennai who had come with her partner Vivek was slowing down, panting, and Shweta looked like she was not feeling well. And this is where the beauty of team work comes in, Tanmay made sure he was waiting on them, goading and encouraging them and making us do the same. One had to wait for the rest, this was not a show of arrogance or One – upmanship.
The sun was now hitting on us and every time we felt out of breath, there was the scenic surroundings.. What a sight it was as we went through patches of green and yellow as we crossed Himalayan villages on the other side. Jyotsinghji the guide and the sweeper Surinder goaded us on firmly.
Initially Jyotsinghji looked quite tough to me and a little aloof or so I thought. I have this habit of chatting up to local guides and during Deorital- Chandrashila and Roopkund, we had become very friendly with Manoj, Kuldeep, Bhupinder and Pradeep. They were a blessing truly regaling us with stories, motivating us and keeping our spirits alive. I just consoled myself thinking it’s the first day, it does take time for them to warm up.
We were crossing a beautiful village across the river,Gangaad. We were taking stops at the stream to fill our bottles with water. You realise the importance of water sources while trekking.
I would sometimes chat up with Vidya, sometimes with Ashish and then wherever we took a break, we would chat up with others and this is when I met a pint size powerhouse called Swapnali.
She had come with her husband Amit and they were from Bombay. A tiny petite woman at 4’11 who would give a run for money to others in terms of stamina and endurance. Cheerful, talking up and helpful. I would know more about them as we went along.
Vidya being her cheery self carried the Backpack of Tanmay for sometime to check if she could do it and boy she did it! During the trek, she would take turns in carrying backpacks of others 🙂 On the whole this was a team that took it easy and were enjoying themselves.
But yes, sometimes we had to be reminded gently by Tanmay that there were others who were slow, who were first timers, who were not well and we had to work as a team and time and again we were reminded of it and believe me it worked.
When Sharon slowed down, we made sure she went in front and Archana and Kadambari took turns in being with her and motivating her. Shweta who was not feeling well was in the front. Her friends Arun and Bindu were always with her, goading and encouraging her.
We were also getting glimpses of the beautiful Swargarohini peaks. Just glimpses. Tanmay assured us that the second day of the trek would give us beautiful views of at least 3 peaks of Swargarohini, Kalanag(Black Peak) . For those who don’t know the legend- this is the place (Swargarohini) where the Pandavas tried to ascend to heaven in their earthly forms.
We had reached Puani Garaat. We had jumped to an altitude of 8,200+ feet from 6,300+ feet. It was a flat campsite with a beautiful stream nearby gurgling. Vidya and I had banded up together to get a tent and Sharon would be our tentmate.
Tanmay made us all sit together as we ate and later we played games. Mafia! It was one hell of a psychological game .Yup! That word haunts me like hell because every night we played that game till some of us couldn’t take it anymore. And Vidya got a certificate and tag from Tanmay that night, he said she was certified in ADC- Advanced Disturbance Course because of her retorts 🙂
It was a fulfilling day and night as we retired to our tents. Our next day would be a 7 km ascent to Kalkatiyadhar camp site.