Thursday, August 11, 2005

Kuari Pass Trek- OCT 2005

Till the time I was a little girl of say 27 year, I had no concept of any form of outdoors. A 10-day trek in remote Himalayas would then appear like climbing Everest itself. Ummm…well this is not entirely true. Sandeep and I had been to the Kumaon Himalayas for our honeymoon, and I did know what was involved after we did a small trek in the Binsar sanctuary area. And I have always been the one who enjoys a physical workout.

Still, when Sandeep suggested that our next vacation would be a Himalayan trek, and this was way back in January, I just brushed the thought away. Bah…just one of Sandeep’s many “castles in the air” remarks, I thought. But then it was only in July that I realized that Sandeep was serious because he was contemplating on joining a GYM to prepare for the physical stress required for the trek. At about the same time we started talking to various trekking agents operating in the Uttaranchal area. We made enquires for a moderate trek suitable for 6 people. Naveen and Sriram (our friends) were also in the fray along with their respective beaus. However, they dropped out right in the beginning of the preparation. So it was just the two of us and we were even more determined to go then before.

Anyways, I wont go about how we selected Red Chilli Adventures as our trekking operators and why we selected the Kuari Pass of all the other treks. That, in itself would be a different article. But, what I can say here is; we thank our lucky stars for the day when we chose our trek and the trek operator. In the coming passages, I narrate our story of the Kuari Pass Trek and the wonderful time we had from Rishikesh starting the 2nd of October and ending on the 12th after when we finished our rafting on the Ganges.


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From Bangalore to Delhi

We started from our place at about 7:50 in the morning. Parag Jain had come to drop us at the airport. We had breakfast (an expensive one) at the Taj counter at Bangalore Airport. Sandeep did not seem very happy as he saw me sipping a 30 Rs chai and 50 Rs samosa. I like him when he is in that “kanjoos” mood. Anyways, we reached Delhi at noon and immediately started for Anju maushi’s place.
Every time we head for our vacation in the North, we do a “Shri Ganesh” of our trip from Anju maushi’s place. Sandeep tells me there’s something special with Anju maushi and her food and he is not wrong. There was no resisting the afternoon Rajma/Chawal/Raita and the evening Aloo Paratha. I had great fun with Chingu. We both poked fun at Sandeep and his new hairstyle (that’s what he calls it). He thinks he looks like Brad Pitt…both Chingu and I were of the opinion that he looks like Kroor Singh from Chandrakanta. That made him real mad. Chingu, Sandeep, Anju maushi and I gossiped till late night and then it was time for bed at 11:30 pm. We had to catch the 7 am Deharadun Shatabdi the next day.


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To Rishikesh

We started for the New Delhi Railway Station at 6 am. Anil Kaka, Anju maushi and Chingu all came to drop us at the railway station in their Santro. We had trouble locating the platform on which the Dehradun Shatabdi would arrive, however to our surprise it suddenly came on the same platform that we were waiting on. We saw one of the BJP spokesperson, a VIP, get onto the same train. I was traveling by a Shatabdi for the first time and I thought it was a great ride. Almost as if you are in an airplane.
It was quite an eventless journey though. When the train had stopped at Roorkee, I couldn’t stop myself from thinking about graduating from a top college like the Roorkee Engineering College, now an IIT.

We reached Haridwar at 12 noon. We needed to go to Rishikesh and while, Sandeep haggled with an Autorikshaw person on the price, I was looking around. Hardiwar railway station and the surroundings are like any typical midsize Indian town, crowded, dirty but full of life and people.

The distance between Haridwar and Rishikesh is around 25 km and they are both in separate districts. Rishikesh is on the border of the Deharadun / Pauri Districts. There is some kind of understanding between the autowallah’s of Haridwar and Rishikesh, which doesn’t allow them to encroach into other’s territory. We had to change our auto midway someplace. Somewhere near Rishikesh we stopped at a Petrol station. What I found surprising was there was no signboard indicating it was a Petrol station, there was only one person manning the station and there was only one small pump selling diesel. Thought it was real funny.
We reached the GMVN, Bharat Bhumi Tourist Rest House at just about lunchtime. As usual is the case, Sandeep was unusually “soft” and coquettish with the receptionist there (a girl) as he made enquiries about the places in Rishikesh. We checked into room no. 204, freshened up, had lunch and started for Lakshaman Jhula by 4 pm.
At Lakshaman Jhula, we went to the Red Chilli office and were greeted by Arvind Bharadwaj, our guide to be on the Kuari Pass. Arvind is an affable fellow and in the very first meeting he set the stage for the adventure that was to be. Both Sandeep and I liked him instantly. We talked about the weather in the mountains and had tea while we waited for John Cooper, Arivind’s partner. The RCA office is on the Ganges banks, and we took a few snaps of the setting sun from there.

From RCA, we went up till Lakshman Jhula, strolled around the market for some time. At the bazaar I wanted to eat Rabadi and Sandeep didn’t want me to. However, I had my way and after a long time in my life, had Rabadi. It wasn’t as good as the one I used to have at Sarafa in Indore, but “Chalta hai”.

The day ended as we came back to the GMVN guesthouse, had dinner and slept having dreams of a wonderful week ahead.


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Rishikesh to Chefna

We woke up real early at about 5:30 am. We had to be at the RCA office by 7. We were to have breakfast there while Ganesh and his men load the vehicles and start our trip by 7:30.
We met John, Bell and their children Dave, Phil and Simone at the office in the morning. They all seemed to be a nice company. We also met John Cooper, with whom we had interacted all this while on phone. Sandeep talked to John about the rafting trip that we were planning after the trek and John promised a trip after we returned.
We had an excellent breakfast prepared by Som and Roopak who were to be our cooks on the trip.
We started in a Mahindra Bolero. There were seven of us Arvind was driving, Sandeep, me, Joshiji (another driver), Roopak, Som and Simone. The others followed in an Ambassador. Destination was Ghat, about 200 km at an altitude of around 1500 mts.

The route we took was
Devprayag – Confluence of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi. The river Ganga starts from here
Srinagar – Had lunch at this quaint little but busy town. The Uttaranchal state university is in this town. I was amused to find a computerized railway-booking center here.
Rudraprayag – Saw the spot where Jim Corbett killed the famed leopard “man-eater of Rudraprayag”. Otherwise this town is famous for the confluence of Alaknanda and Mandakini.
Karnaprayag – Another of the prayags. This town has the confluence of the Pindar and the Alaknanda rivers. Arvind told us that the Pindar is one of the toughest rivers to do River Rafting. Lot of grade V rapids. He and his friend Vipin did it some time back along with an American.
Nandprayag – By far one of the cleanest prayag cities I saw. Confluence of the Nandakini and the Alaknanda rivers. From here we left the route, which goes towards Joshimath and took the diversion for Ghat. Extremely scenic route along the Nandakini river.
Ghat – Reached Ghat at around 4:15 pm. We were to change our vehicle here to a jeep for a rough ride ahead.
Chefna – There is no motor able road from Ghat to Chefna. The ride was however once in a lifetime experience. I was damn scared. There was deep gorge on my side of the jeep and every time I looked down, I would almost call out God’s name loudly. But reached Chefna after about an hour’s rough ride.

We helped in pitching the tents. This was the only time we did this. Basically we were enthusiastic as we were doing it for the first time. Our campsite was right next to the flowing Nandakini. I thought it was really beautiful.

However, as soon as the sun set, it got mighty cold. We had hot tea/coffee. Had the first taste of camp food. Actually it was really grand. A three-course meal with delicious dessert. Such was to be our dinner everyday and today we weren’t even remotely tired.

We scurried into our tent at around 9. First experience in a tent and a sleeping bag. The night was eerily silent and the only sound was that of the flowing Nandakini. Haunting but soothing. I couldn’t sleep and Sandeep kept on telling me that it was because I was feeling claustrophobic. Sometime early morning I think I fell into a slumber with Sandeep snoring happily next to me.


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Chefna to Ghuni

We woke up at around 6 am and went for a walk near the river. Wanted to click some early morning photographs of the mountains around us. Disaster struck; as soon as Sandeep clicked the first photo using the Sony DigiCam, we heard some kind of a “bang” from within the camera and saw smoke coming out of it. I thought “gaye beta”, no photographs possible now. However, we went about clicking anyways hoping they come out all right. There was no way to check except after getting back home and fortunately as you can see, the photos have come out all right.
Sandeep started climbing a hill around there and I followed. This was a tricky climb and I kept on urging him to come back. However, he kept on and at a point I could see that he was stuck. Neither could go up nor could come down. I got totally scared but still followed. After a point he just went up and disappeared. I got stuck myself and started shouting for help. Fortunately there was an early morning riser returning to the village and he came to my help. THIS WAS IT. I got really mad at Sandeep and had a straight talk with him. From now on he was to do exactly as I say and no mucking around in the mountains. The guy nodded sheepishly.

After finishing our breakfast, at around 9 am we began the first day of our trek. The destination was “Ghuni”, a quaint little village we were to camp at later in the day. The climb, though moderately steep, was a little bit of challenge. When we took our first break after walking for about 2 hrs, we saw the peak of Nanda Ghunti. We passed “Lower Ghuni” just before lunch and were surprised to find very few people in the village.

We met Badri, our head porter and mules man at his house here. He served cucumber freshly picked from his small vegetable garden. Also met his eighty-year-old mother who after some cajoling posed for the camera.

After lunch, we passed through upper Ghuni at a height of about 2600 mts. Upper Ghuni is more developed than lower Ghuni.

There’s a school too in the village and our camp was on the other side of the school. We reached the camp at around 1.30pm. So the first day was quite easy for us. Both Sandeep and I thought there should have been more. Till the evening the school children visited our tents and made a lot of noise. As the evening progressed, it started getting colder. We talked with Arvind for sometime as he told stories about his older trekking stories. After dinner we went to our tent at around 8.30pm and slept or rather tried to sleep.


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Ghuni to Semkherk

We woke up early at 4am and after putting on lot of warm clothes we came out of the tent. It was a chilly morning. By the time we got fresh and ready for the day, the breakfast was ready. While having breakfast, I saw that Sandeep was talking with John and they were discussing about lot of topics. I was also listening quietly to their conversation. I always like and admire this style of Sandeep and have always wanted myself to talk to Sandeep on all those topics.

We started on our trail at 8:30. We were now on the famous Curzon trail. In the beginning, the climb was much tougher than the previous day. When we took our first rest, we could see the peaks of Nanda Ghunti, Bander Punch, Chukhaba and Nilkantha.

On the way, we saw a flock of sheep. Suddenly we saw one of the sheep fall down from a rock. Later we found that it had broken its vertebrae. The shepherds decided to kill the sheep and cook it. Arvind also asked him for a leg portion, so that for dinner our cook could prepare some mutton.

We had our first glimpse of the mighty Trishul peaks as well.

From this point we started descending. The destination today was the Semkherk meadow via the Chechni Vinayak top. Kuari pass is visible distinctly from Chechni Vinayak. Chechni Vinayak also separates the Nandakini valley and the PanaGhuti valley. We had lunch around noon at the Chechni Vinayak. After lunch we started descending down again. The trail was through thick forest of Oak. We thought that descending is always a little more difficult than ascending as the rock and soil was quite loose and we were all the time worried about not twisting our ankle.
We had to pass through few waterfalls and streams and got our shoes and socks wet. It is quite irritating if you have to trek in wet socks.

We reached the campsite at Semkherk at a height of 2400mts at around 3 pm. It was quite a tiring walk and we were quite pleased to be at the campsite. Sandeep thinks the Semkherk campsite was the best of all campsites. From the campsite the two of the Trishul peaks were clearly visible.

We had a campfire today and talked to the mules men over dinner next to the fire. Had fun listening to their stories and the some of the beliefs these people have.


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Semkherk to Kaliaghat

We woke up at around 6am and got ready for the day. Immediately, we came out to see the two peaks of Trishul as the morning was quite clear. After a while, I felt somewhat irritated as I was feeling very cold and my jacket was not a sufficient protection for such kind of cold weather. I was missing our Kal-matiya trip where instead of being very cold we were very cozy and comfortable. After talking to Sandeep, I agreed with his point of view wherein he told me about outdoors and how in outdoors one learns to survive without those things, which make one cozy and learns to enjoy the beauty of nature. I decided to follow this advice from that day.

From this campsite we started at around 8am and initially we went down, down and down. Sandeep was not very comfortable while descending down. I was little bit worried for him. He also bent his ankle while descending and hence John gave him his walking stick after which he was much better at descending.

We went through one village called Jhinjhi. This was the last village we would go through for the rest of the trip.

We saw flock of sheep and one amazing scene where one of the sheep gave birth to a lamb while on the street, just amazing.

There was a small school in Jinjhi where there was only one teacher and around 25 students. Half of the students were in school uniform and half were in normal dress. They were singing the national anthem. After seeing that school I could not stop myself from thinking about my childhood school “Shaskiya bal mandir”.

After passing the village, the difficult part of the day started. We had to cross a big mountain at straight 40-degree angle and in that too in the blazing sun. It was really a difficult climb. Before this we had to cross the Birehi river over a hanging bridge.

After about 3 hrs we reached the top and had our lunch. From this point our campsite was a 3 hour walk.. Now the trail was not that much difficult however the climb was still an quite steep. we were going to camp at a meadow called Kaliaghat above the village of Pana. The campsite was at a height of 2600 mts. We would have walked around 18 kms today.

The night was horribly cold. Even the ever friendly campfire was not keeping us warm today. The food was excellent as usual. Arvind told us, we had long day after this one.


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Kaliaghat to Dhakwani

I wasn’t able to sleep the whole of the night because of the cold and a throbbing pain in my legs. However, when I got out of the tent in the morning, it all changed. This was one of the most beautiful mornings that I had ever seen.

The village down was all covered in mist. There was mist all around and we couldn’t see the sun, what we could see was a yellow speck.
We started for our destination, Dhakwani that was at the foot of the Kuari pass. Arvind told us that our campsite Dhakwani itself is above the tree line at 3600 mts. So we understood that it was another tough day for us.

After climbing for about two hours we reached a wonderful meadow called Sartoli from where we could see the Kuari Pass.

From Sartoli we began descending down again. This was another difficult trail we took. Actually there wasn’t any trail at all. The path was totally washed away by rains. We were walking on loose stones and soil with a huge towering cliff on one side and a deep gorge on the other. We moved down till one beautiful spot where there was a small creek formed by a waterfall. Arvind told us that this was black bear and leopard country but the only wildlife that we saw was a pair of ravens and a flock of wild pigeons.

We started to go uphill at a steep incline from the creek. After what seemed as a long long walk, we reached our campsite at Dhakwani. There were some “Gaddi’s” who too had camped at some distance. It was 4 in the afternoon, but the place was extremely cold. Throught our walk today, Sandeep kept on calling me “Pahari Bakri” or “mountain goat”. He tells me now that it was super complement however till today I am not quite sure.
From our camp, Kuari Pass was clearly visible. Although after a while it got totally covered under a dense mist.

I really wanted to get a good night’s sleep but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to sleep in that cold. During the night, our mules came very close to our tent while we were sleeping. They tore the ropes where the tent was pitched. Now when we look at the incidence, it feels very comic, although at that time both Sandeep and I were very scared. We kept on shouting for the mulesmen from inside the tent. What if these heavy animals fall on us ???
Tomorrow we climb up to the pass and beyond, with such dreams, I tried to go to sleep again.


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Dhakwani to Taali

Ok, so the day has come. Today we go climb up to the pass. The pass itself is at a height of about 4268mts. The morning is hauntingly cold, there’s a lot of mist and we can feel the thin air and to some extent, the lack of oxygen in the air.

In this atmosphere we began to gradually ascend from Dhakwani towards Kuari Pass at about 8 am. We hoped to climb the 500 odd mts in about couple of hours. The climb was the toughest of whatever we had done till now. The visibility itself was limited to a few meters. With every step that we took, we could hear our hearts pounding.

John meanwhile was totally energetic this morning and he was climbing very fast like a man possessed. It was then we hit upon a small problem. The mist was so thick that visibility was limited to a few meters. We lost sight of our trail as well and took to an extremely steep climb. I don’t remember how we managed to get over that problem but after a while we took to the main trail again and heaved a big sigh of relief. With each step we were motivating ourselves and at around 10 am we reached a place, which was about 50mts from the pass itself. The visibility was still very limited. We expected to see John, but we saw that he was trying to hoist a flag dangerously perched up on a cliff. I thought that was very daring of him. And then we reached the pass itself. Exhilarating feeling.

After a while even the others reached the Kuari pass and started to cross the wilderness by gradually descending. After a while we met another group of trekkers, a man who appeared to be in his 40s and a lady. Arvind seemed to know him and introduced the man as “Gary”. It was only after the trip I realized that Gary is the author of one of the Lonely Planets that I have called “Trekking in the Indian Himalayas”. He was coming from Chadrashila and was going towards “Roopkund”.

After descending for some time, we started walking over a small ridge. Around noon we had lunch at some grassy knoll. The wind was at its full flow here and I enjoyed that walk very much.

We quickly had our lunch and started towards Taali, as at such heights the weather is pretty unpredictable. Arvind wanted us to reach our campsite before it started snowing or raining. After sometime it did start drizzling and we thought of putting on our raincoats but didn’t do so, hoping that it would pass over. A s soon as we reached atop a meadow called Chitrakantha, the drizzle turned into a steady downpour and within minutes it was raining like what we had never seen before. We stopped only to put on our waterproofs and started from that meadow. The heavy rain suddenly changed into a hailstorm. The pieces of hail were the size of marbles and they were when they hit our hands it was quite painful. After a while, the hail turned into a snowfall and the entire region surrounding us was covered with snow. We were actually walking in snow. It was really amazing. I was in such surroundings for the first time in my life and was feeling quite ecstatic. Although, it was getting a little bit slippery but walking in snow was really an adventurous feeling. Now I feel very bad, because I couldn’t click even a single photo of such heavenly surroundings. We were in hurry to reach our campsite before the weather turned even worse. After walking at a pace for sometime in the snow we reached our campsite at around 4 pm at place called Taali. This place is called Taali because there is a small lake [Taal in Hindi] there. After we reached Taali, the weather cleared. Kuari pass was clearly visible from our campsite but now it was completely covered with snow.
The views of the Himalayas from Taali are quite amazing. The view is around 120 degrees and on a clear day the peaks of Dronagiri, Trishul, Changabang, Hathi Parbat, Rishikot and the majestic Nanda Devi are clearly visible. When we reached, the entire view was clouded in a dense fog, but after a while as the weather cleared and the fog lifted, we saw the view, which will be etched, into our minds for a long time to come.

It was getting colder. We were sitting around fire to get some warmth. After having a very delicious dinner we went to our tent to call it a night. It was extremely chili tonight but I got into the sleeping bag with a different attitude so that at least I could get some proper sleep. But it was only my wish that didn’t get completed and I was waiting for morning. Around 4am, I tried to wake up Sandeep but he finally woke up at 5am when the alarm rang. I also sang one song, which was appropriate to this situation …”Jiska mujhe tha intazar vo ghadi aa gayi” as I was waiting for 5am.

While climbing down from the Kuari pass, Sandeep and I were talking about why out doors are good, why do people take so much trouble “climbing up” and then “climbing down”? Is it only “Because it is there”? Well I think, the biggest thing is, the feeling of exhilaration that one gets.


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Rest Day at Taali

This was the rest day. So not many plans for this day. As usual I couldn’t sleep properly and kept Sandeep also awake throughout the night. Got out of the tent at around 5.30am and got ready after the breakfast. We all decided that we would climb the hill near our campsite and so that we could some good views of Himalayas. We started around 8am to climb the mountain. From the campsite, it looked pretty easy but after climbing for sometime we found that there was no trail left. While climbing, I thought that everyday
we have to face some new challenges.
After a lot of struggle finally we reached the top called Gorson Top. But unfortunately because of the clouds we couldn’t see much. From Gorson top, Arvind got a faint signal on his BSNL Mobile (BSNL Jindabad, signal in this wilderness ??) He talked to Ganesh at the RCA office in Rishikesh. It was only then we came to know that there was an earthquake in POK and Pakistan. I couldn’t help but remembering that we were in Chamoli too…Chamoli which is infamous for all its devastating earthquakes. Our parents had tried to find out about us by calling the RCA office, but there was hardly anything we could do. The best bet was to call them up from Auli/Joshimath but that would be possible only the next day. I was really worried about our parent’s getting worried. While descending down we followed the proper trail which was much safer than the one which we took while climbing up. When we came down to camp, the lunch was ready. After lunch we had a sponge bathe and after this I started feeling very sleepy because from the past six days I didn’t get proper sleep. I asked Sandeep to take a nap but he asked me to join him on a small trip around the campsite. The views, they still do not fail to amaze me.

It again hailed and snowed a little in the evening, but it wasn’t as hard as yesterday.
The cook, like the views, does not fail to amaze me. It was John’s birthday and the cook dished out a chocolate cake. The night was again horribly cold and we slept with our monkey caps, our woolens and our jackets on. Sandeep, as usual fell asleep within a few minutes and I couldn’t so I took out my notebook and jotted down the happenings of the day.


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End of the Trek. Taali to Auli/Joshimath.

All right…so that’s it. Today was the last day of our trekking. We woke up at 4am and found that the mule’s men had started a fire and so went upto the fire to get some warmth. We were sitting around the fire with mule’s men and they told some stories about their villages and how they all believe in offering a “bali” to the Goddess. Sandeep listened to them very carefully and asked some deeper questions to understand their sacrificial system.

After tea and breakfast, John and Sandeep gave some tip to the mule’s men and clicked couple of photos with them. We started for Auli at around 8am.

We had to climb till Gorson top which we had already done on the rest day, however, this time around we knew the trail and took to it. We started climbing slow and nice and Sandeep and I were the first to reach the top. After everybody reached, we started our descent towards Auli. Sandeep was at his usual, asking some logical puzzles to the gang; and then explaining to the kids how to have a crack at such puzzles. I was myself puzzled with his puzzles and started sympathizing with the kids; what a show off this Sandeep is.

Ater descending down for about couple of hours, we reached to a beautiful meadow. I have seen such meadows only in the Bollywood films and till now I have always believed that they shot them in Switzerland. Wow!, why do they have to go all the way to Europe when they (the Bollywood producers and directors) can get the same effects by shooting right here in India.

We hadn’t put on any warm cloth and were feeling very cold but nevertheless we were enjoying the cold weather as well. We had lunch around noon and after that we reached to Auli at around 3pm. At the GMVN guest house we had some tea and then Arvind pointed towards a place and asked us to descend down till there . It looked like some kind of a rest house painted green all over and it did look very far off. I thought that he was planning to con us into trekking till Joshimath. We were at the end of our trek and very truly quite tired.
Finally after a long haul we reached to that point from where a Jeep was ready to take us to Joshi Math. Sandeep’s mother called up on Arvind’s cell and we talked to her and told her that we all were safe and sound.

We went to Joshi Math after talking to the Mule’s men. It was really very painful to say bye as we had a good time with them.
After reaching Joshimath,we had bath. A HOT bath after 9 days. I am unable to explain this feeling. Again I say, it was exhilarating.

We strolled around in the bazaar in Joshimath. From the bazaar, we called up my parents and Sandeep’s Parents. Sandeep wanted to have a shave and he was so desperate that he nearly jumped onto the seat in the next barber’s shop that we saw. We went in for a close and clean shave and he got clean shave. He later told me that he was mildly surprised when the barber told him the cost. It was 6 Rs. Backhome in Bangalore, he would have readily paid 15 bucks plus tips for this service. We had some really horrible Samosa and some really good tea in the market before coming back to the hotel.

Sandeep was all very happy throughout the evening and now I know why. It was because of the dammed TV in our room. We watched TV for a while and then went to the restaurant for dinner. We came back to our room at around 8pm and finally I went to sleep. I finally fell into deep slumber and it was already 8 days when I had actually slept like this last.

All the while before going to sleep, I thought about our trip. What is it about this Outdoors that makes you feel like a queen. You definitely don’t get the best of all luxuries. No hot water, no warm covers, hell not even soft beds to sleep and snuggle into. So what is it?

Well one learns about lot of things, one gets to see, understand and appreciate the hardships that the people from mountains undergo. How people spend their lives in difficult situations. Take for example the people we met during our camps near Ghuni and Jhinhi. We could see that these guys didn’t have any proper resources. In winters, the route between the two villages closes because of snow and so they only have to work in the summers and they gather all the necessary things for winter.
In the villages we hardly found any school and even if there was a school in the village, there were hardly any students. But the struggle for survival and not just survival, the struggle to compete, the struggle to prove, the effort to achieve is still there. And that’s what makes the clock tick.

Out doors gives you a good kick. We always learn how to survive in difficult situations, how to fight hardships and believe me, I am a changed woman after this experience. I have begun to understand life in general, and I am not bluffing. Watch this space next year for an even more romantic, exhilarating and soul touching anecdote.

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