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!