Door of High Winds
There was a strong desire to complete that pending trail tracing and being humanly solo was just another option!
To be continued…kept my eyes closed and as they arrived near, was disappointed to see that among them was a person, for whom I had good respect for but he didn’t knew me as we had chat only on Facebook!
That evening, I had shot an update on internet via Facebook and another virtual friend may be from US and her reply “You’ll make it” through on Facebook helped overcome the fear that was because of dehydration and no food. I was not able to call home because of no sufficient balance to make call!
Anyhow, spent the night with few drops of water but the night was beautiful with wild fowls greeting me in the morning.
Now today we were in the place of worship with a seasoned shepherd, my new friends were quick and fast on trek and I was just trailing them.
Being locals my new friends were running on that trek! By the time we were in the first base camp my tummy was already in bad mood.
May be drinking water from many hill side springs had an effect and then there was a constant uphill climb and then downward climb. On that trail you need to climb down and then climb up may be 6-7 times.
There is another alternate trail with just one steep climb and then some edgy side but is shorter in distance. Though many consider that full of risks and that of bear.
That day, we had camped with Gaddi shepherds under a boulder hut and I was in no mood to have dinner!
With my tummy going nuts our trail tracing of that high mountain pass was postponed and on next day we just roamed around the parts of the glacier and called off the trek by noon and headed back to our home.
After that there was a huge gap of around 5 years as that friend of mine got engaged in “jobs” and the duties of the modern copy-cat society!
So in the last week of June 2019, again there was a strong desire to complete that pending trail tracing and being humanly solo was just another option.
Threw an open invitation to all but there was no response.
Since I wanted to go easy on those steep climb up and climb down treks, so charted out 4 days and 3 nights trek for myself.
Before leaving for this trek, the night again played magic with my mind and called me to postpone it by throwing in the fear factors like bear encounter or heavy rain, but then I just slept and in the early morning checked my backpack, this time I had a backpack with internal frame that helps you manage weight to a good extent.
Arrived for the village road by 07:00 AM, the next bus for the village was by 08:00 AM and since I did not wanted to wait for the long, so this time hired a cab and drop right on trek head.
“The sooner you step on clean trails, you get some kind of good feeling but may be not all can feel this.”
At 07:47 AM started my hike for the first point, the place of worship and was there by 08:50 AM.
Offered my prayers to the goddess and baba ji over there fixed me a cup of hot tea and he told that some villagers had also left for the same point, some 1 hour ago. Before leaving the temple I picked up some plums from the tree and put them on the side pocket of the bag.
As I entered the dense forest, I recalled my steps, how I was feeling 5 years ago with that heavy college backpack and how I was sweating and trailing my new friends.
Some foot prints on the trek were clearly indicating that some bear had its way already. Kept walking on the trek and in some distance was able to trace those villagers with livestock.
This trail is so far trash free, hope it remains like this.
Trekking or Hiking on a trash free trek has its own taste and joy
I was going easy on that steep climb and since was on that trek after long time so did not wanted to miss the cut (shortcut) that is suitable for reaching another high place of worship over the steep boulder, rather than climbing up and up and then taking the long left side turn to reach the same place of worship.
Again the thick woody and trash free trail was giving me more of joy, than having a stroll and lunch inside some all comforting city mall or hotel. The trail is covered with fallen leaves giving a feeling like that of walking on a soft red carpet.
“Next morning on the trek for the temple of Shakti Peetha Aadi Himani Chamunda Devi, I was greeted by the wild fauna just outside the huts.
Since, I had no water with me, so called off the trek and climbed a little farther and collected some edible rhododendron flowers and headed back to home.”
Now on this new trek, I was physically alone but was not alone at all. Reached the boulder side temple, there a is water hole by the side of the temple but is not suitable for drinking unless boiled on high temperature.
That point is just awesome but lack of water in big thing.
Anyhow moved on the trail, after that point the trail goes up and down around 6-7 times. I had planned to camp in midway by the side of the boulder temple but since had covered most of the trek before noon so decided to keep on walking.
If you come on this trek, I’m sure you will not regret the hard climb up and then climb down.
Around 12:30 PM, I was near the first camping spot but was feeling tired due to constant walk and no lunch break!
Somehow, reached the boulder side lean inside shelter and prepared lunch and it was already 03:00 PM so decided to camp in the same boulder cave.
Next morning it was around 05:45 AM packed my bag and moved further to the base of the high mountain pass. It was only 06:30 AM and I was around 2 km away from the base of that high mountain pass. I met an elder who is a veteran but comes often on that grazing land for his livestock. He had his wife and a married son along with to rebuild the hut that was damaged with heavy snowfall.
They offered me tea and there I met two other local college students. They had camped in tent and were there to see new place and the glacier.
I was inquired where from I was and where I stayed last night. It were the same people who had left the temple just an hour ago before my arrival.
They prepared breakfast for themselves and so in the process fixed some food for me as well and in turn I also shared my packed lunch that I’d brought from home.
They asked if the two college guys could also join in me for that high mountain pass but then I also informed about my lack of knowledge of the trail and that I was going to trace the trail and then attempt the climb for the pass.
Well going solo was my choice but finding someone to tag along was good. So after breakfast we moved for the trail tracing and the pass.
It was around 07:45 and we were told that, if you go through the hard ice over the glacier you will find the trek.
But giving visual direction from a distance of around 2 kilometers and tracing the trek right on spot is something different.
We found some footprints of goat or sheep and kept climbing upward skipped the glacier and the trail was just going sideways and then upside.
After one hour of climb, we still weren’t sure if we were on right trek. So we decided and set up a time limit till 01:00 PM.
Still by 11:00 AM we were just tracing the trail with bushwhacking. Since it was my decision for the trek tracing and the other two were just to camp near glacier, so I took the lead and decided to go head before calling the other two to follow.
We climbed up a good distance and height but were on wrong trek. There was no question of doubt because there were footprints of goats. So at one point I asked two fellows to sit back and went ahead to check if there was any trek going.
In terms of energy, it is generally a kind of disheartening, when you climb up a good height and then you have to climb down.
Here I would also like to mention that while trail tracing, I had found a petal of the rose flower and it was kind of all fresh. Also it was strange because there was not a single bush of wild roses or the ones we see in gardens and that rose petal was like as if was plucked from some rose garden.
From the point, where I had found the rose petal, I climbed a little farther through shrubs to check with the trail. It was then, I realized that it would be of no use of climbing up further. I felt that this season too, I’ll not be able to trace the trail and reach the pass.
The other two guys were losing their patient, so I decided to call off the trail tracing and informed them of my decision and asked that we should head back to the tents.
It was then one of the fellows among the two, provoked me and said “We are ready to follow you wherever you are going!”
I was not instigated but then instead of keep on going toward left side trails, decided to climb a little more towards right hand side trails. It was steep climb through grass and there was dead end.
The same guy asked me to check one trail that was going parallel but it also ended in shrubs that are common on high mountain sides.
But still we had to climb down to reach back to the tents. That point was high enough to get the signals of Jio and BSNL with full internet access. I climbed down through those shrubs, crossed a distance.
There I realized that we were nearing to the actual trek that probably will lead to the high mountain pass (intuition).
It was around 12:30 PM and we started again on the possible trek. We kept climbing on the same trek and it appeared more regular kind of trek with foot prints of goats with good impression.
We had climbed some 300 meters and it was then the thick fog started to roll in with the high probability of rain.
I was sure that, we had found the trail but it was not hundred percent sure. So with heavy mind, we decided to call it off. After some snacking and refreshment as we were climbing down, it started to rain and we hurried towards an overhang boulder for the shelter.
It was like, I would have to try climb the pass either from Chamba side (with less gradient) or get some guide next season.
As the rain stopped for a while we decided to climb down through the hard ice/glacier and our shoes were not compatible for hard ice or glaciers.
So here, the things that I had learned earlier were of good use. It was an angular climb down on hard ice with just a wooden stick for the support one slip could mean a fast slide only to hit the boulders down somewhere.
So we treaded carefully and reached the other side for easy climb down and were back in the camp by 04:00 PM.
They were happy because, they were there for walk on hard ice / glacier and slides for the pics. I was in the middle of happy for safe back and kind of between happy and not happy for not finding the trek.
I was getting double minded whether to camp on same spot or climb down further to the boulder cave.
I had decided and told the elder veteran that I’d leave for the boulder cave and head back home early on next day. It was then his wife insisted that I stay with them for the night and move home next day.
To them being alone was no good idea, so pitched my tent right there and after happy dinner slipped in to the sleeping bag with a constant war of thoughts going inside my mind.
The war was about either to quit the trail tracing for next season or next day retry with the trail that we’d found earlier (and because I was still close to the base of that high mountain pass, temptation or intuition).
Beside that war inside my mind, I was also wondering about that pinkish white rose petal which I had found in the middle of nowhere! (There was no rose bush around just some mountain shrubs, I did not picked that petal, just felt it for its freshness and placed it back on same spot).
By mid night inside the tent I was feeling that this time too I will not be able to trace the trek and have to go back just like that!
I was up by 05:00 am started packing my sleeping bag and checked outside, the sky was all clear…so my curiosity to retry the trail tracing got stronger and as I packed my sleeping bag and stepped out of the tent, the North West sky started sending clouds towards North East.
These were not coming from South West, so probably were not monsoon clouds! I kept staring at the sky and the clouds and then there was sunrise.
The clouds kept coming from the same direction heading to East. Then after tea, I still kept staring at the sky and saw the clouds pass over the high Mountains and with only traces of clouds left behind!
So had a hasty roasted porridge breakfast and closed the tent zipper and picked up my camera bag and headed towards the half traced trail.
After some steep climb, free style rock climbing and saddling over the edgy glacier patch arrived at the half tracked trail (that we had found by hit and try method) and started my climb and trail tracing. This time I was again physically solo but not alone at all.
“You are never Alone, Alone may be in the form of flash but are never alone.”
As I climbed high up, the trail faces demanded a careful treading with sit and slide. It was quite nerving as every turn opened a steep and narrow trail.
Still I was happy as there was no music playing as yesterday the two fellow were playing loud music on Bluetooth speaker. With all the silence, I could hear the voice within me that was saying me to tread carefully.
I was climbing up carefully, then heard a loud sound of roar, it sounded like that of a bear. (I had experienced wild bear growling in Django Unchained in Billing).
Then I scanned the hill on other side from which side I heard the growling and noticed some animals running over the steep glacier or hard ice. They seemed horrified and it could be because of the bear or the leopard. But the sound was that of some bear.
With that I kept climbing and became more alert and also kept an eye on the other side of the hill.
First I took them to be the wild goats because only they can run straight down the hills and boulders but later during climb down found them to be a huge troop of langoor, the rare type of langoors.
Any how I moved on and there at one point, appeared a trail that was going to the right hand side and there was a steep wall like trek on the left hand side.
So I took the right side trail and went a distance only to find another dead end with steep fall adjacent to it. Well I retreated and took on the upside steep trek and kept climbing.
Then heard some human voices over the other side of the distant hills. I was under the vision of some Shepherds in distant hill.
I kept climbing by taking time to regain the energy and water intake. As you reach closer to the pass, the climb and the trail becomes steep, edgy and narrow.
The weather was perfect and as I arrived the mountain pass, it had been just 2-5 minutes and just then from North West the fog and clouds started rolling in but it was somewhat clear towards Chamba.
There was a strong desire to have a night stay in that High Mountain Pass for the beauty is enough for just an hour!
For next 30 minutes clouds and fog kept rolling. And it was only after 40 minutes the clouds scattered around and myself was able to have clear views around and it is beautiful!
Thanked the mountain goddess and Dhaulahdhar Mountains for the climb and took a careful climb down.
Arrived the legendary water fountain, untied my boots and dipped my feet in ice cold fountain water coming through the glaciers. There I noticed the troop of Langoors, which was probably chased down by the bear or leopard.
I was back in my tent by 05:00 PM and the elder veteran could not believe that myself was able to trace the trail and reach the high mountain pass.
Well as I say, I have nothing to prove to ANYONE! Since they didn’t asked me to show the photographs of the high mountain pass, so I did not. The other college guys had already left for home. The wife of the veteran uncle had prepared lunch for me so had my fill and went inside the tent.
The night was peaceful no war was going on but there was more of war yet to come. I was in no mood to come back among the society of high show off standards but had no choice!
Any kind of relationship that is built on lies and lack of faith will break.
Next day I joined the veteran and we went cattle herding and took the cows towards grazing patches.
That troop of Langoors was still around resting on high boulders. The wife of the veteran uncle prepared heavy breakfast for me and repeatedly advised me to skip the short but edgy trek and instead head back home from the long trek but somewhat much safe.
Thanked them and bid farewell and as I approached another boulder side hut, met another village couple there, had little chat with them and thanked them for the tasty organic dinner ( I still can’t forget that night and the dinner inside boulder cave shelter) we had some two-three years back and in turn they fixed me with a hot glass of milk.
Bid farewell them as well and moved on, I literally whistled through the dense forest trek, as was advised by the wife of the veteran in the hut where had pitched my tent.
It came handy as there were clear sign of fresh root dig up by the bear and even heard someone rushing through the thick bush and trees. Every time I entered thick forest trek, had goosebumps.
By 03:00 was in the temple side, thanked the goddess and again baba ji fixed me a cup of coffee. I was back in the bus stop of the “Society” and was back in deep “high standard society” by evening.
“Never Judge Any Mountain or Hill just by Their Height ~ Better Never Judge Anyone”