Let me add one significant and awesome event which happened last night before we set off to the Upper Waterfalls campsite.
At the lower waterfalls campsite that evening, we had a new batch pitched at the campsite below us and in the evening the trek leader with his team had come to visit us all. So Kiran suggested a way of greeting and welcoming them, a weird funny provocative way! So as all came and stood in front of us, it looked like a face off situation. Funny how our cavemen instincts go up!
So this is what we did. We stood in a line face to face with the other team and collectively let out a sound, ‘Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’ followed by a Bollywood pelvic thrust dance move grunting ‘Uh’! This move was the same one Kashif danced in that song ‘Kisi disco mein jaae’. Imagine their perplexed faces stunned! The other team did an aggressive ‘Haka Warrior move’ dance right after that. The game was on.
We had to play a tapping game and guessing numbers only through a series of actions and it was all team work. The referee would show with his fingers the number to the people in front of the two teams. I was placed in the front to signal it to my team members and Bhim was in the last who would take that sign and announce the number loudly. Whichever team announced the right number first got a point.
It was nerve wracking, immense pressure and we all got so competitive. Himanshu was saying No pressure it’s a game, take it easy but man, the rivalry inside you just builds up! Every point we won, Himanshu would jump and so would we! In the end we won the game and Amish and Neel mentioned that Himanshu was dancing and celebrating in front of the other trek lead 🙂
After a night like that we set out in the morning for the Upper Waterfalls. Looking up, it was looking formidable. Gosh we not only had to get to Upper Waterfalls, we had to go above and beyond it and reach the campsite. I remember the day was sunny and the clouds were clear, thank god for that.
But my heart was thumping hard, really hard, thoughts of giving up was coming to my mind. Even if I want to, I still had to go up and beyond or go back all the way to Dhaula base camp which was even more excruciating. Can I do this? All kinds of crazy thoughts happen.
We crossed the meadows and now it was time to climb the mountain. It was only climb and climb and climb. Something must have clicked because the tough climb we did yesterday prepared us for today. To my surprise, I was not scared, I was slowly moving ahead, not struggling like yesterday, no panic and feeling better.
We had to cross slippery snow bridges and sometimes our feet would suddenly go deep in the snow and we had to pull out our legs. Sometimes we had to cross snow patches that were so thin next to us, we could see the rocks and freezing water flowing underneath it. It was tough but yesterday’s one was tougher and maybe our body and mind got used to it, my heart slowed down, the crazy thoughts were gone. How the mind plays tricks and how we let it play tricks on us.
Bhim and Himanshu were constantly with Kiran who was way behind. He was stopping every 5 minutes and taking a breath. His mind gave in. He was mumbling not wanting to move on. He wanted to go back and we could see Bhim pushing him, waiting for him patiently, Himanshu constantly talking to him. So much patience was needed to be a trek leader, to deal with various people and their issues..
Slowly we made our way up, our bodies were taking the pounding, 7 days and everyday was a challenge and it was only getting tougher, now we were only climbing, treading gingerly on snow, rocky cliffs. Pooja Nirvi and I were put in the front and our pace was going good. It felt good.
At one point we took a break waiting for Kiran to come up, we could still see him pausing, stopping, sitting and Bhim and Himanshu with him. I turned around and saw Pooja, she was teary eyed, getting emotional.A few days back when we were having one of those tough walks, I told her it will be worth it believe me, when you see the summit you will get emotional, something happens. Here she was, crying and she said It’s so true, just being here at this moment I feel overwhelmed, she had tears rolling down and I got welled up seeing her, I told her Yes just let it out and hugged her.
We could still see Kiran coming up slow and pausing, Himanshu came a little forward and waited as Bhim and Rabin were with Kiran. I was chatting with Rokabhai and I asked him, Is Pin Bhabha pass tougher? I had signed up for it in September and he said, Na, After this, that will be easy for you! Pin Bhabha won’t have tough days continuously like these. I was like is he kidding me? Now after the summit hell yeah I would say he could be right!
Himanshu mentioned that Kiran’s mental condition was paranoia. He was panicking, groaning and completely giving in to his mental state of mind. His pain was not physical but completely psychological. This I saw in my previous treks too. One could be fittest, marathon runners and whatnot but it was the mind, always that mind. We saw Bhim with blood on his hand. He slipped in the snow bridge and his hand got cut quite bad in the jagged rocks but Bhim being who he is shrugged and moved on.
Since everybody was on a break, I asked Rokabhai if we three gals could go ahead and he said, Ok Go ahead. He casually said Ha Ha Ja sakte ho(Yes you can go!) And we did, just climbed our way up, all the way up. We three were surprised that we could do it without supervision, just that one word from Rokabhai. I remember Nirvi saying this feels so good, just us 3 gals, it is Girl Power and truly we felt empowered doing that last climb up on our own. It was a tiny yet significant moment for us.
Slowly we made our way up and my pace increased, no longer was there fear, at that moment it disappeared, it was gone. I knew I had given up some of my fear to the Himalayas. I was exhilarated, I felt free as I paced myself forward.
How could one imagine that past the massive Upper Waterfalls, all the way up and ahead would be these beautiful green meadows, rolling meadows surrounded by Glacier Mountains and a spectacular lake right in front of the campsite? It was sunny, it was such a beautiful day and we were already at the campsite by noon. I was at bliss, bliss at what we did, bliss at having conquered some fear within myself.
The view was spectacular in every possible way. It was so worth it, every bit of it. The emerald blue hues of the crystal clear lake, the massive glacial mountains with patches of land. It gave me a deja vu feeling.
We all rested up near the lake, just threw our backpacks and sat in front of it. I remember knocking off my shoes, lying flat on the grass and went off into a deep slumber. Pooja clicked a beautiful pic of the mountains with me sleeping in front of the lake which she later posted it in the group. For me it is special, because I felt she captured my peace, my letting go of so many things in that pic. I woke up suddenly to really cold air hitting me and I realized I had slept for a long time so I went back to the tent.
Himanshu was waiting for rains in the afternoon, he told us it’s great if it rains in the afternoon, we would have a great summit day. It didn’t happen and yep for that, we almost paid a price on Summit day.
Later that day as I got out of the tent, I saw cheering from our group. Looking up I saw someone, wait who was it? I burst out with laughter when Bhim told me Amish and Neel were taking a dump outdoors, open air! He himself had done it and they were curious about it and so he told them to try it.
According to Amish, Bhim told him that if he would do that, he would dunk himself in freezing water. Well the privileged lads had their moment of glory when Neel and Amish took a big rock each and did their ahem you know what! The funny part was that we could see Amish’s hands and his toilet paper and he was taking rolls and rolls of paper!Neel came down saying I have done it and we clapped!
Amish walked down with that usual grin on his face having no idea we were watching him! He tried his best to persuade Bhim to dunk in the water and feebly attempted to push him, one look and a movement from Big Bhim was enough to make him go for the run! Bhim was like seriously man? You trying to push me in the lake?? 🙂
Later in the afternoon Himanshu took us all for a walk towards the glacial lake. It was vast, the vastness encapsulated us as we walked through grass, dew, rocks. A few of them had gone way ahead. Rokabhai was encouraging others to walk through the freezing waters to go to the other side. Hell, some were removing their shoes and wading through it already.
Himanshu said why don’t you try? And I did. It was now or never! How could I pass up this opportunity?? So off went my shoes and I walked in freezing, fucking freezing water scampering through jagged rocks and I crossed. It was an awesome feeling. And right then Neel followed suit! After sometime we had to come back right? Again that teeth chattering freezing moment, you get these kind of chances once a lifetime so why not dive in?
We started walking barefoot for sometime and looked around us, the horizon. It was ethereal, this moment was something to cherish, to hold onto. I stopped, took deep breaths and looked around.. Another 2 days and this would end too. After the summit tomorrow, it was only going back, a finality to all of us.. Back to our normal lives.. Or was it back to abnormal lives while what we were doing right now was normal as it should be?
And yeah need I mention that Himanshu, Shravan, Karna, Akaash and Nirvi enacted the Shah Rukh khan move beautifully synchronised? Yup the same one with his arms open wide.
We went back and played RANDOM SHIT a crazy game and of course dumb charades and btw our team won and Bhim who was in the other team is such a poor loser, he just couldn’t accept it 🙂
It was already evening and the day before the summit was always exciting. Himanshu introduced us to the technical guide who gave us a description of what the trail would be and he was very clear, move in a single file, place your foot where I thaw the ice steps and be careful. This was it. We were given Spikes(Gators) for our shoes. After the first hour of the trek, we would have to wear them as it would be all snow.
We had to eat by 6.30 pm, get into our tents by 7.30 pm and wake up by 4.30 am. I remember getting into the tent and saying my prayers for the safety of each and everyone, this is something I do on all my treks.
Little did we know that we would be put in a situation that would endanger our lives as well as Himanshu’s and the Indiahikes team wouldn’t have imagined how unprepared they were for what was coming..