We were woken up by Manoj and Indian at 6.30 am. We slept like a log and I could see a sliver of light coming from the small window. Even Bhim slowly woke up from his slumber.
We still were in a daze, the turn of events, the journey everything felt like a dream. Gambhir told us to freshen up so he could make some Chai for us. We would set out early enough so we could take a break somewhere up there and have breakfast/ food.
We brushed our teeth and had to walk quite a distance away from the village to finish our usual nature’s calls. Bhim and I were laughing about it, what a spectacular view surrounds us while we do our daily ablutions 🙂
Bhim took his light day pack and I put some of my stuff in his bag and we were all set. Manoj and Indian had their walking sticks, me with trekking pole and Gambhir carrying all the food stuff and other things for the trek.
We saw TIM TIM running towards us and excited again and so wanting to come with us! The fiery furball was pawing his way to come until the Sarpanch caught hold of him, he was too young for that but we knew in a few months he would out beat all of them 🙂
It was the perfect weather as we made our way up. We kept on asking whats up there, how can we get to the Glacier? Looks pretty far off. But Indian just led us on, and it was only ascent, just ascending and ascending, we huffed, puffed, stopped,taking mini breaks and we moved on. It just went on and on. The area was rocky with grass and up there, way up there was the forest as Indian pointed it out to us.
So we asked, till the forest? It was beyond that, we were going way beyond the forest. And like any good Himalayan guide they would gently say haan bas kuch hi der mein pahunchenge 🙂 (We will reach soon)
Bhim and I, with whatever little trek experience we had learnt never to ask how many kilometres, it doesn’t work that way in the mountains.
An hour and half happened and still no respite I tell you, we were just ascending, getting up and up and we were panting, seriously that time our mind was blank because we really didn’t know what we were up for..
Finally we reached a flat level land, it was astonishing, like what?? An ascent and this flat level clearing? Indian guided us through a ritual that one must do if they are coming here for the first time. We picked flowers, a stone and gave an offering at an altar and prayed.
One thing I need to specify, you can be an atheist, agnostic, spiritual, religious or whatever, but please respect the local traditions, bow to them humbly, nothing is gonna dampen your cool factor. In fact I have found my strength in them like the locals. You are in their territory, this is the least you can do.
After our offering, we kept walking and the Mountains were bigger, larger, so big we could see them beside us with a stream flowing by. And suddenly we came upon this green and I mean green you can ever think of meadow! With tiny flowers just springing up and as we were taking it in all in, it was WHOOP! yup a big WHOOP on our body mind and heart!
A valley opened up, Freaking hell! No it was Heaven! We could see the entire Valley like an open heart opening up its veins, arteries to us. Totally spread out! You have no idea what that scenery did to us! We were gaping! Open mouthed as we looked at Darma Valley!
We climbed on top of a big rock and saw in it’s total brilliance. I remember Bhim and I looking at each other with goofy smiles and spreading our arms wide open, yes you would want to do that. You want to encapsulate that entire moment and hold it within you. It was a high I tell you. You don’t require any drug or caffeine nothing, this is YOUR HIGH nothing else.
Our heads were spinning at this painting God created. I fell totally in love with the creator again. Like hook line and sinker, this was not created by someone ordinary, no Sir, it strengthens your belief in the creator..
The others could see our happiness. Indian, Gambhir too was smiling big at us, it was reflecting in all of us. Manoj was asking us so Kaisa laga?(how is it) What do we say, really what do we say?
I also remember that stupid human flaw we all have, immediately taking my phone and trying to click a pic/video and then I was like, you piece of shithead, you have your eyes to savour it all, to see the way that no camera can show you, the present moment is in your hands and you are wasting by going click crazy??
I put it down right away and Bhim and I just sat there gazing for god knows how long.. We wanted to inhale it, take it deep in to our lungs, heart, every vein and pore of our body until it became us., I really don’t have enough words to express how we felt.. Even as I am writing it I am getting goose bumps..
The others informed us that they would go ahead far into the meadows and set up camp for a good brunch. They also understood our need to be there and be in solitude.
After god knows how long, we had no sense of time anymore, we shook ourselves up from our reverie, clicked a few pictures and started walking along this vast meadow..
It was spring and not in full season yet so the tiny flowers were just about blooming but already we could see their impact on it. We were walking on tiny multi coloured flowers, purple, white, yellow orange. All I have to do is close my eyes even now and I know I am there walking on that meadow..
Slowly we reached the open meadow that had an open kitchen place with firewood and all.. Gambhir and Indian told me that during summer all the locals set up camp here, like a market, there is a Mela(gathering) here. and the flowers grow up to a height of 2-3 feet, Imagine that!
We just laid ourselves flat on the ground like flat and looked up at the sky. Manoj was playing songs from his phone, Indian was chatting and Gambhir was making food . Bhim gave him the soup packets we were carrying.
How lucky, blessed and thankful we were. To be there at that moment, to lie down in the open sky with the valley opening it’s heart to us and a perfect weather and a great company.. My heart was full and bursting and so was Bhim’s.
And Gambhir made the most delicious Noodle soup for us. He used soup packets and noodles with spices and as we slurped on it with the open sky, we were overwhelmed, really overwhelmed by this. No amount of gratitude would be enough for what these guys were doing for us. As Bhim put it, this was divinity, we were in it.
At one point I turned on my stomach lying flat and keeping my chin on my hands, I saw something, a whole ecosystem was happening in the tiniest blade of grass. In one blade of grass.. the insects, the bees, the flowers we could see a universe in itself.
At that moment it hit me hard, Shit, nothing created is useless, even the tiniest of all have a greater purpose, a greater consciousness and these tiny beings knew it, were aware of it and going on with their purpose, what the fuck are we humans doing? Why are we screwing it all up..
Who are we really? The affirmation that we are just a speck, a tiny speck and all we need to do is follow our purpose in life that goes beyond a job, money, wealth, conflict,relationships, family, everything.. Our ancient texts have written about it thousands of years ago be it in any religion and yet we are going further and further away from Nature and our true self..
After a long break, we pushed ourselves up, the Glacier was coming close by, so near, yet so far.. As we started walking something was happening, the meadows changed into something else, it felt like a sponge, like proper sticky sponge and we were bouncing!
So we would step on it and we would bounce. It was a swamp like thing but it doesn’t suck you in, it just propels you up! Bhim and I had so much fun as we walked and bounced, and there was a whole meadow of it! The scenery in front of it was something else. Complete snow mountains following us!
Gambhir and Indian told us that the locals would climb up the glacier with only walking stick to get that ‘Keeda- Ghaas'(Winter Worm). Yes folks, this Kheeda Ghaas medicine was legendary. The locals believed the worm cured many diseases and ailments and it did so effectively, it became a big business especially since the Chinese on the other side also got a taste of it. There was lot of black market business going on until the government came along and regularized it.
We were coming closer towards the Glacier and we were passing the beautiful Birch Trees, Rhododendrons that we knew would burst out in bright colours in a few months..
And there it was..