Some momentous things happen when you least expect it, just like an epiphany or even a ‘eureka’.. And at that moment, crouching and bending down, covering my face I experienced a complete detachment. From everything around me, and with the group.
How can I explain this? Every group I trekked barring a few, I have fond memories. I have formed strong bonds with a few of them, some for a lifetime. I would insist and I would always make an effort to stay in touch with them.
And this time it felt different, something significant shifted inside. As I looked back at the tiny ants like formation of the group coming closer, I was detached from them all. Mind you it was not a disconnect but a complete let go off the group. This experience was not an out of body experience but so strong, real and soft, it permeated inside me completely, flowing and real.
It was clear to me that my journey with the group ended with the trek, it wouldn’t go beyond, it was clear. There would be no eager whatsapp messages in the group, no follow ups nothing. In fact even this blog, I haven’t included anyone in my posting list. If they get to read it, it would be on my Instagram story. I have no reason why. The lesson of loss, of death that I faced before my trek lead to this.. Detachment
It was so clear, so visible to me, Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowin’ in the wind’ song lines came to my heart and mind. ‘The answer my friend, is blowin’ in the wind’ line hit me. As I saw the lashing winds, they were just flowing, disappearing into oblivion until another one followed it’. Wasn’t life like that? Wasn’t death like that? Weren’t relationships like that? Weren’t attachments like that? The answer was clear, Blowin’ in the wind. That death, that loss was something I had to face, my journey, that death spiralled me into darkness, guilt, sorrow, deep attachment and it led me to this. A complete detachment.
It was a deep meditation alright, since I have come back and it’s been more than a month since that trek, it stays with me. Detachment. And yes I know people will get hurt, the people around me won’t get it, but now I know this is it. I can’t turn back anymore, it’s not possible. I was then standing at the temple and right now, right here on a definite path of detachment.
Finally I saw a tiny shape of Harsh coming along, and I asked Anshulbhai if I can descend back, it had been more than 20 minutes now and I got what the Himalayas wanted to give me. I was not running away, I was moving ahead. He told me not to pace fast but take my time and descend and he will meet me at the break point. I could rest up until he caught up.
As I started my way down, I saw a private group of 4 coming up asking me if we made it to the pass, I nodded no and wished them all the best for the pass. I smiled at Harsh and the rest of the group as they groaned up inches closer to the temple. I was out and away physically and mentally.
I was descending enjoying the silence and then I saw that private group of 4 already catching up with me. When I asked them, they said it was heavy stormy winds to the pass now. Their guide told them it was impossible so they were heading back.
I kept descending while Anshulbhai caught up with me at break point and we took a break there. Dhairya and Shivam came too. Dhairya was excitedly sharing something about him, Meenakshi and Kshitij having a race descending down. 😊
Anshulbhai told us to start moving and to stop at Khullara top where we would have our lunch break. I remember lots of slips and falls and getting our groove back on and moving. I was in a complete different zone. Dhairya kept chatting and I would respond back, he was pleasant company but I knew I shifted inside. Very much.
At Khullara top we reached and removed our many layers waiting for the others and we were so hungry we ate our packed lunch which was delicious. The staff themselves packed our lunches, stuffed veggies rolled in rotis, it was yummy.
The rest of the group finally came looking down and out. That’s when I came to know Avishek had very bad falls, he kept on falling in the snow and his past injury came to haunt him. He had a terrible bike accident that ended up in a fracture on his leg and through a painful surgery he recuperated. But today was tough, and the pressure of it screwed his leg. He was bearing it all, silently, this was courage too. He was not being heroic but stoically accepting his limitations.
We had finished our lunch so Anshulbhai, Dhairya, Shivam and me set off. The group wanted a long break and they would start off in leisure to the campsite.
Chatting on and off with Dhairya the descent was happening fast. There were slippery sections as the sun was blazing now and with the snow melting, there was lots of slipping. Luckily none of us fell hard, just the usual stuff, knees were taking a beating because of the descent.
In no time we saw the campsite. There was now a completely different scenery, with the snow melting it seemed like the heavy snowfall didn’t happen at all! There were patches of snow, but the glory of the sunshine was that most of it melted away! If this isn’t nature’s miracles, what is it then?
I sat for sometime with Dhairya as he removed his shoes and placed it in the brook nearby for comfort. After sometime I moved around. Sitting outside or going intermittently inside the tent to relax. The weather was blow hot and blow cold. From sunshine it would suddenly get cold with wind chill and change all over again like a repeat cycle.
The campsite was very quiet with only the kitchen staff around. I could hear Yash’s snores in his tent next to my tent or him chatting on the phone on and off with his friends and family. It’s like he never left Bombay 😊
After 2 hours the remaining group came exhausted and we sat and had chai. Avishek was in terrible shape and he slept through exhausted,he was in no mood for tea or snacks. As everybody exuberantly shared the whys and why nots of the trek and their experiences I listened in.
There was a different mood going on post the long exhausting day, the group was happy, lighter and making fun of how one tripped, one fell face down, and how beautiful it was. It felt good, happy and light.
That evening surprisingly we came to know was Garima’s birthday, and so Meenakshi and the team made a beautiful cake for her. Poor girl was so exhausted she had decided to give up dinner and sleep through. Nikshep got her out and she cut the cake. That last night at the camp was the coldest. Freezing cold with wind chill cutting through and so windy the tents were flapping hard. What a way it was to say goodbye to the last day of the trek. The next day would be a short day and trek back to Joshimath.
Avishek was limping and he kept saying he shouldn’t sign up for stuff like this with his injuries. I could get what he was going through. He took a ton of painkillers plus he didn’t sleep a wink during the trek so the tiredness and stress got to him.
It was time to head back.
To be continued..