We woke up to initially getting some sunshine but the clouds loomed in large. It was pretty gloomy. Today would be the last day and another long day of trekking all the way down to Bhangeli base camp.
Khush’s injury had gotten worse, and by the looks of it, it was not a sprain, it was something far serious. He was limping bad not putting any weight on his leg. One of the mules would carry him to a point and from there he had no choice but to trek slowly down to Bhangeli. Well we had our moments of fun when my trekmates started clicking away when he was on the mule with the porter 😁
I remember the jokes and fun everyone was making, like Abhishek was guffawing loud when Atulbhai was commenting, Khushbhai to chota dulha lag raha hai 😂😂 I am sorry I can’t translate this as I don’t know how to explain a chota dulha concept in English! You can see the pic and figure out for yourself!
We started making our way down, hoping against hope of no rains, we didn’t want to open our rain ponchos on the last day and definitely not on a steep descent till Bhangeli. The trail again was like yesterday’s trail, muddy, full of slush, and very slippery.
We did get some sunshine in between and there was some hope for a little while . Now it was upto Pradeepbhai and Atulbhai to guide us through the terrain. But how were they to communicate?There was no point in Atulbhai having one walkie talkie while Khush carried the only other one with him. Atulbhai also had to carry his heavy backpack, but wouldn’t it have made sense for him to just carry first aid kit and oxygen cylinder as emergency use and the rest be taken with the porters? Well, frankly most of us discussed this and shook our heads..
There were so many instances when we had to wait for the others to catch up, and we still had no clue, should we wait? Should we go on? as there was no other way Pradeepbhai could know about the ones trekking in the middle. We had so many injuries the previous day that there was this fear that nothing more should happen. Khush also might have needed that walkie talkie as he was injured and he could atleast communicate with the base camp but let me tell you, in the end, the guides along with some of us got pissed off. Some game plan, some way should have been thought of to avoid this confusion..
The rains and the mist made it worse! At one point, we took a break where the entire group was together and we had made some good plans for the evening. We had enough of the no salt no spice food, and we wanted to eat something different. So it was decided that Abhishek with the guys would get some chicken and curries cooked by the locals in the village and it was fantastic! Imagine having some proper Garhwali food! And we had done that before. Imroz my trek lead for Roopkund took us to a nice local house to have chicken and paneer at Lohajung, ditto with the trek lead of Har Ki Dun where we pooled in money to have a sumptuous cooked dinner by the locals at Sankri. We were going to pool in our money and we would sit together for the last night, have fun and chat up. We were all set but we were so miffed at what happened that evening, more on that later.
Let me tell you whatever little sunshine we got was just a bit because it rained and how! Like proper rains!! In our rain ponchos and taking shelter under a rock we ate our lunch in pounding rain, it just didn’t stop. And Atulbhai was very worried about Jayesh and Manisha so much because they were usually with him. But this time, they were more or less with us so he went into panic mode wondering if they had got lost, all this could have been avoided..
We also saw what I think was a bear cub, a furry mid sized one on top of a tree, I remember Pradeepbhai signed to us to be quiet , stop where we were and just keep looking! Fuck! My instant fear was if it’s a cub then the mother must be nearby!! What the hell!!More than the leopard this was effing scary!! Bear attacks were common here! Luckily that furry thing jumped from the tree and went towards the other side!! Phew!!
The group in the front which was Deep, Kavya, Devraj, Korak, me with Manisha and Jayesh had to take a one hour break to wait for the others, after waiting and waiting the porters told that Atulbhai could have taken a shortcut because there were so many injured people in there, he might have wanted to cut time. Oh gosh! By this time we were pitying the guides. Atulbhai was down and out carrying that heavy backpack and we could see his tiredness when he caught up with us with the rest of the group.
He also said what was the point in Khushbhai having that walkie talkie when it was them that had to guide the entire team safely down? The answer to that, we will never know.
It was raining hard, fast to drizzle to rain again as we would stop for sometime, check if the ones behind were on the right trail and then walk again, and that’s how the entire trek was about. I give so much credit to Darshan and Gayatri, with their injuries, they were still ahead of the rest of the group in the middle and behind, pacing wonderfully. Ditto with Jayesh who didn’t waver a bit, with his shoulder injury after the fall, he paced so well. All they wanted to do was just reach Bhangeli, that’s it! No chit chat, no wasting time, nothing!! Their determination through the pain was admirable. Very focused, they refused to take breaks and kept saying LET’S KEEP MOVING!
And the trail went worse, way worse, now with the rains on us, there was sloshy mud on us 😁 Out pants and shoes were unrecognisable! Deep was like, I hate these sloshy sounds!! What is this SLOSH SLOSH??! 😂😂 Our feet was sinking totally into the mud, we had to lift it up, shake it off and again one more foot in deep wet mud! Whenever Pradeepbhai would say 5 minute break, we would use leaves to remove the wet mud from underneath the shoes so we wouldn’t slip or fall and then again the whole mud/slush started! After a bit we stopped cleaning, hat was the point really? We were so muddy through and through it didn’t matter anymore!
I remember Deep joking, laughing and making a count of the number of times anyone of us in the front slipped or lost balance, he would keep a count, like 1 Down, 2 down, it was a good distraction from the challenging terrain with an all steep descent and the rains.
Deep’s humour and jokes honestly kept me ticking throughout that day, as he would talk about something random or the other. Devraj would join us, then pause, pick a leaf, a beautiful stone and catch up with us or sometimes be with Jayesh and Manisha. When I told him to pick a stone for my friend Bhim, he carefully selected a beautiful stone and gave it to me. He is an awesome guy I tell you 💙
I have a wonderful memory of a moment that day. Pradeepbhai told us to wait at a point so that others could catch up, so Korak, Kavya, me, Deep with Jayesh and Manisha sat down. Devraj was a little away walking around, picking stones. I remember Jayesh clicking beautiful pics of the lake and yes I will post one here so you can see. Korak was talking about how swimming was so hard for him, he had this unique thing where he had to work extra hard to stay afloat! And no he was neither tensed nor had any phobia of water but his body was such that it sank!! And Kavya being a national level swimmer tried her best to give reasons and solutions. Why I find it memorable is just sitting together and talking about stuff to people you met just a few days ago, we open up, we share our fears, anything we share and no one judges you. And it was worth waiting for that one and half an hour as we chilled and hung out together. ♥️
Finally and I mean finally we could see the landscape changing.. one could notice the settlements, it was still pristine yet one could notice remnants of human civilisation through small hamlets. This side of Uttarakhand was untouched so it was still as pure and clean as it could be. Did I feel sad this was ending? I really don’t know, probably because of so many injuries in the group, I was only hoping that all safely reach the village as soon as possible.
The body had reached its limit and the adrenaline now on the way out, the aches and pains were showing up. But just before reaching Bhangeli, Mohit had a bad fall, he cut himself in a couple of places but luckily no twists, or ankle sprains. And Deep’s count went up 😁 and just when we thought Kavya’s count was zero and right at the village steps she fell with Deep yelling Kavya – 1!! With her protesting I didn’t fall, I used my hand, see? 😂😂 It was fun!
And right there it was.. The temple that marked the beginning of our trek almost 6 days ago and we were smiling big. Each one of us rang the temple bell thanking for what was given to us these past days. It could have been worse, it could have rained so badly that we wouldn’t have been able to trek at all. It’s beautiful how the Himalayas shows us time and again, there is so much to be thankful about and so little to complain about in life.
And as we came down reaching the village, there he was, our injured trek leader Khush standing on one leg and waiting to welcome us with a big smile on his face, ‘ WELCOME BACK! YOU MADE IT!’
To be continued on Monday ♥️