Wednesday, 26 July 2017
Wednesday, 12 July 2017
An evening of introductions commenced and a clear, astounding picture emerged of my fellow trekkers. I was among Limca and Guinness Book Record holders, individuals delving in their passion for photography, cycling, yoga, boxing, marathons, teaching and other pursuits. This was one varied group, many among us fiercely independent and self-sufficient.
We had a cozy home stay here at Dhaula. Post dinner some of us retired early, comfortably cocooned in our sleeping bags. The rest engaged in several enjoyable rounds of card games and conversations, before sleeping in late.
Wednesday: Morning brought apprehensiveness, tea, and rain. Experienced co-trekkers had already mentioned about the utter discomfort of trekking in a Himalayan downpour. The drops feel like needles, they said, and you would rather wish to be somewhere else when that happened. But, wondrously, as the local hosts had prophesied, the skies soon cleared. We began our trek with what was to become a rousing daily practice, hailing out a battle call in praise of Chhatrapati Shivaji, the legendary Maratha king.
A long and leisurely day of trekking followed. There was barely any significant altitude gain, the scenery was breathtaking. Clouds floated by mimicking lazy travelers, a gigantic spread wedged itself into a valley. To the omnipresent roar of the Rupin river, we passed cute, curious children calling out, "Hello." Some of the kids hailed us in shrill voices, asking for chocolate. Chocolate distribution, group photo sessions and nibbling on local village store lollipops followed.
By 1 pm, we were at Sewa for another home stay. A long gorgeous afternoon and evening lay before us, as we placed our bags in the wooden-floored rooms, washed and refreshed ourselves. What a lovely beginning and no stinging rain as yet. Hurrah!
Saturday, 8 July 2017
Friday, 30 June 2017
Caution: The first paragraph may disgust some readers. Reader discretion advised.
The horror of horrors, three hours into the ride, once the rickety bus started snaking through the high mountain curves, the scenery dimmed in my eyes. Suddenly, I couldn't wait for the journey to end. Nausea took over and I placed myself strategically by the window for the rest of the bus ride. My lively co-passengers slowly melted away from my notice. It was a kind of a temporary self-quarantine. By the time we reached Dhaula by around 5 pm, I had mastered the art of setting myself up by a bus window for a good vomit trajectory, polished my skill of doing so without causing any widespread disgust. Uh, ah. ow.
We alighted at Dhaula and waited for the organizers to arrange for the jeeps to take us to the base camp. A few members petted and pampered the local dogs. The dogs all flowing hair, bushy tailed, fearless and robust. The mountain air perked me up, by the time we boarded the jeeps, the towering oaks, pines, a river flowing to the left and a steady drizzle brought me home to the trip again.
Something out of the ordinary also occurred on the way to our first camp. One of the local dogs began chasing our vehicles in one steady, strong run. This was no casual chase. The dog kept up with the vehicle's speed and moved to a sprint, tirelessly. After almost five kilometers did the dog cease at a settlement, more out of instinct and curiosity it seemed, or perhaps in catching a delicious aroma. It was one extraordinary run, a touch of the predatory in it, riveting to the eye.
It was still raining when we reached our first camp, post a 30-minute ride. Rain, not a good sign for the trip, if not ominous. Tea was served from a smoky kettle, hot fried snacks served as we watched the drops mingle with the wild green below.
A cell phone grab of the dog run