Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Long story about a short adventure.

So I just came back to Delhi from a 3 day McLeodganj/Dharamshala/mainly Triund trek trip. You'd think you don't really need time with such small places but you couldn't be wrong-er about that.

We stayed at a place called Yellow Guest House. I mention this because the owner was really cute and helpful and the place is on the main road, right next to the taxi/auto stand and stuff. Apparently it's even cheap. I felt a little sorry for the man because the place is actually a downward staircase away from the main road and he'd stand on the main road to get business. Oh, we even just missed the Dalai Lama on the day we went. Apparently, he was giving a speech till 11:30 in the morning. I had cheese soup that day. I love cheese soup. Went down to the St John in the Wilderness Church - it was pretty cool. Apparently Lord Elgin was buried there which made me wonder if it was the same Elgin after which the Elgin Road in Kolkata was named. There was also this plaque in the church in memeory of someone who was attacked by a bear in between all the war plaques. And even the bell there has this whole story and there were all these graves outside the church. It actually is in the middle of wilderness. There was this water basin as well where you drop a coin and ask for wishes? Mine didn't fall in the centre of the basin. No wish fullfillment. Damn. Then we planned to go see Dal Lake. It's in a place where only private taxis would go. So, we hiked up there. And we had to cross this area which was fully surrounded by monkeys. It was weirrrd. Then finally we took this short cut where we were accompanied by an uncle and 3 children and a dog named Chin Chin for half the way after which we left them behind. We climbed and climbed and climbed and eventually reached... nope, not the lake but a boarding school. It was such a tresspasser-y feeling. Apparently the lake is just outside their school and we crossed the whole campus to get there.

Here comes the trekking day. Left early morning with two backpacks and two two litre bottles in hand. It seemed chill at first and I pretty much didn't sit down until half of it was done (it is important to note here that it was the easy half - I met people then who said that the actual trek was yet to start). And the weather thankfully was amazing! So cool. I remember turning around one corner and the scene was so dreamy! It was all foggy and there were mountain goats and other cattle just scampering about. And another moment where it got so foggy, it seemed a dead end had come because the road was just not visible. It was beautiful. Yes, the steep parts sucked the life out of me and there were a gazillion people over-taking me but I just kept at it. I completed that trek in about 4 hours and only when you complete the trek do you realize how rewarding the climbing is. (Well, you don't realize it immediately because well, fog). But it got really cold and I had to put on a sweater. After chilling for some time, I explored a little bit. Then Meenal came up and we set up the tent and stuff. Had Maggi and coffee. I couldn't even rest properly and so I just went out wandering again and just sat and sat at this isolated corner. There weren't many people around because I guess everybody was resting then. I also did find network for two seconds. Haha. I went to the extreme edge where the guest house was. Finally went back and she was up then and we went back the same way with some detours. The fog had cleared and those snow capped mountains were fully visible! It seemed funny to me to have missed it before! This time when we reached the edge, a sudden intense wind started blowing and then it started to rain. We ran under the roof of the guest house. The guest house people started dismantling the tent in their own coumpoud because of the bad weather! Suddenly it struck me and I asked the man in charge there whether our tent would be blown away by the heavy wind. And he said it was highly possible if no one was there inside it; it might have even been torn. He told us how just the day before 20-25 tents had been blown away along with people's belongings inside them. Later, even another guide told us that the weather had been horrible - they actually evacuated people at 4:30 A.M. in the morning. He offered to take us back to our tent. If it had blown away it would have been very problematic because we would have no shelter for the night. Crazyy!

It was so hard to walk back with so much wind resistance even when he was guiding us. We actually did get swayed because of the wind. I finaly reached the spot and though out tent hadn't been blown away, it had fallen down. Thankfully, because of the hooks, it had stayed on the ground. Co-incidentally the tent renter also came there at the same time. We all mutually decided that there was no point in setting the tent up again because the wind would just push it down anyway. So, we put some bricks on it to keep it in place and let it be. We then spent a lot of time behind a rock trying to get protection from the wind. But it was really cold and my tracks were stupid and thin. Eventually we decided to go sit in one of those shacks that sell food up there. It was surprisingly cozy! A lot of people were huddled up inside. Fortunately, the winds died down in a bit. The tent man came and relocated it to a place which would not face the wind directly. (Our earlier tent position was on the edge of the wind facing side of the mountain. How smart.). He then informed us that the conditions that day were much,, much better than the 20-25-tents-blowing-away day one. I wonder how people had survived that day. We saw a lot of people take leave - cancelling their overnight plans because of the fears of rain and ferocious winds at night. Also, we did see a tent and someone's sleeping bag cover fly away. At those wind speeds, even leaves hit like rocks on the face and tears streamed out of the eyes. Too muchh. Legs had become too numb and I walked around trying to get the blood flowing. There was light up until 7 7:30 in the evening. Again we retired to the tent for a short pause. When I next left the tent, the sky was clear and the stars were out and all seemed beautiful. The tent next door had made a bonfire and everyone was just generally chilling there. It was all good but after a point they had only wet sticks left which gave out more smoke than fire and the conversation got boring, so we went back to grab dinner to our own tent. The sky also had clouded up again and there were distant rumbles of thunder.

After eating next to nothing, we tucked ourselves in (obviously, the zip of my sleeping back got stuck and stupid-ish like 3 times in the night). Then I was up till 12 to wish Meenal a happy birthday but yes, she was already snoring. Thank God, she woke up at around 12 so that I could wish her the coldest birthday she'd ever had. With little else to do, we went back to sleep. So I had this weird dream at around 3:30 where I was giving an interview. I was talking about something something Economics something and the interviewee asked me if I knew that my tent was moving and I was like what does that have to do with anything. But I opened my eyes and the tent was actually shaking so very much. I kept observing it and worrying about it falling and finally woke up Meenal when it got too much. We adjusted ourselves to help sustain the tent and within a second she was snoring! I was left alone to worry about possible consequences of tent collapsing. Then I figured I got bored and slept off too. Again, I was up by 5:30ish to watch the sunrise but Meenal wouldn't accompany me until the sun had made everything warm outside. So, again, I sat and watched nothing while thinking nothing except about how much I was shivering. Then, I swear to God, we actually lay on a rock basking like lizards. Felt so good. Keeping quiet felt so good.

Climbing down was a mistake. I mean see there's this normal route and then a short cut route. The short cut route crosses a waterfall which we wanted to see anyway. The short cut route sucks! You don't see humans there, there are no signs and it is super steep! Also, we might have taken a wrong turn or two, because the waterfall was nowhere near. It sucked to the power of infinity.

So I ended up with a blood clotted big toe, rashes, resurgence of that idiotic ulcer, a severe-r cold than the one I had before the trek, really sore body, dust allergy on both hands and legs and a longing for mountain life and it was all, all totally 100% worth it.

I mean you had to be there to see those things, to feel the accomplishment of the climb, to eat hot Maggi, to talk to people, to open your tent and see livestock outside, to struggle against the wind. Maybe next time we'll go higher up! :D

Also, important lesson. Aae Tatti Tera Naam Kya Hai shirt is a very nice ice-breaker. Next time you find yourself in a possibly awkward situation, wear it!! Not kidding, 4 people complimented me on it. A girl literally faltered and slipped while seeing my t-shirt. Also had like 2-3 people reading it out loudly. Sigh.

Anyway, that's all for today, yay!
Shall attach some pictures soon.. :) 

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