As we reached towards Bhangeli road head, the vehicle stopped and from here we had to walk up, yup an ascent to Bhangeli, a small Himalayan hamlet. After being stuck in a vehicle for 8-9 hours driving it was good to get the stiffness in our bodies out or was it? We had no idea from that day onwards it would only be ascents!
We were greeted by a kiddo Khush Gala, who was btw our trek lead. I had already checked him out on Instagram, he looked like a 20-21 year old one, definitely not more than that. I groaned because that meant it would be ‘schooling’ by these young guns. Don’t get me wrong, but I was lead by a 21 year old Himanshu Thapa for Rupin pass but that chap was something else alright. A zen teacher, calming, mature guy who handled experienced to amateur trekkers, from 50 year olds to 18 year olds with such maturity it was just not possible for everyone to do that.
Ditto with Tirth who lead me in Deorital this year, a 22 year old and his managerial skills of handling a motley group of 17 was outstanding. I still remember fondly those moments with him. Bhim, him and me lying down late at night, very cold night, gazing at the stars outside while everyone slept, and his words as we were summiting Chandrashila where he told us to switch off head lamps as we walked in the dark guided by stars..
It was not Indiahikes training, it was him, taking and giving life lessons, these two are according to me the Zen masters of all the treks I did. Silences speak so much and with Tirth and Himanshu I fondly remember sitting in silence for hours and feeling most connected. It all fits. But not everyone can be like that, and the moment I saw Khush with a big smile all I thought was ‘Kiddo’! 😊
He greeted us at the roadhead and led us towards Bhangeli village which is a total ascent with no road all the way up and we groaned with our backpacks. Oh boy! Darshan commented Arre, the first day of trek has already started kya?? 😂
Let me tell you Bhangeli is a beautiful hamlet, one could see it was very remote. No commercialisation of anything or that sort. A typical Himalayan village with beautiful hardworking women and stunning children. And as usual the women as they are in any part of the world are busy, constantly working carrying their kids in tow.
To give credit to Khush he didn’t go through the whole jargon of ‘orientation’ that happens on reaching the base camp. He kept it crisp, clear and short. And was I glad when the cooks and guides kept piling on snacks telling us to eat more! A far departure from my KGL trek with serious glances and to eat limited food. 😊
The villagers were so friendly and nice, my love for Uttarakhand and it’s people keeps growing. After my Kedarnath adventure almost 5 years ago that changed my life, what kept me going during that time were the people who helped me knowing I was a solo traveller and a woman. Their respect for women is something I have experienced time and again.
Fortunately for the five of us women, Kavya, Gayatri, Manisha, Vrinda and myself we were assigned a guest house apart from the dining area. It was beautiful, warm and clean, and oh the lady, the gorgeous lady whose house it was would quietly get us Chai with a smile. Kavya, Gayatri and me took one room while the other two got another room. The views from the wooden balcony was magnificent.
I remember when we were having dinner and we saw the mountain ‘Srikant’ looming above the others, it was almost as if it was rising slowly during sunset. Gayatri commented, we get so much for doing so little! I could notice mesmerised faces as we looked at it. Tomorrow said Khush, we could have a closer look and of course everyone was looking forward to seeing the ‘Bandarpoonch’ mastiff which we saw enroute to Bhangeli, it is so called because it resembles the snout of a monkey.
I remember the excitement we felt getting ready to start our sojourn tomorrow. As Khush introduced our guides, Atul bhai and Pradeep Bhai both brothers while the former being the older one. Pradeep would be in the front and Atul would ensure he was always at the last.
It got me thinking, what is it that makes us to do it every single time? To trek is not easy, to trek in the Himalayas is definitely hard, to camp out, to carry load, to continue pushing the body beyond it’s limits in unpredictable weather conditions? Some questions have no answers, it is an experience. You have to be there, that’s it.
What we all didn’t know that time was how wild, unhinged and raw the entire terrain would be. A land far far away full of surprises, challenges, sightings of wild animals, to people going through every emotion possible and to do what it takes to get there..
To be continued tomorrow ♥️