(P.S.: Some of this won’t make sense if you weren’t there. Sorry about that.)
With the Parvathi River flowing besides, 38 ambitious trekkers met at the Kasol Base Camp, to meet the bare nature, to dare the nature, at Sar Pass. We parted the comforts of our cozy homes and gathered on the 2nd of June, 2013 at the Kasol Base Camp, in the Parvathi Valley of the Kullu District in Himachal Pradesh.
Some came with their families, some with friends and others on their own – but hardly anyone returned the way they came in –
“Hamne rishton ko badaltey dekha hai”
Some made friends, some made families, some found love, and some – an extended family 😛
All thanks to YHAI for causing us all to meet!
The baby face, the background singers, the family, the weedboy, the inhuman person, the romantic couple(s), the insensitive photographer(s) all set out on the 5th June to the uphill climb to return on the 11th June with loads of memories as carrying anything was already a scary thought.
The 10 days that the 38 crazy bunch spent at the foothills of the Himalayas –
Day 1: @6500 ft
Acclimatization – to sleeping on the bare grounds, washing in cold freezing waters, to the ways of YHAI
Day 2: Still at 6500 ft
Acclimatization Walk- to walking uphills carrying a load of 5 kilos on your back
Orientation – to YHAI, a glimpse of the next treks and tours you want to take with YHAI
Day 3: No progress yet, still @ 6500 ft
Rock Climbing – we saw people walk like lizards on rocks, it was awesome; some of us did manage to climb the 25m tall rock, some with weak shivering legs and some seemed like they were carving their own grooves with bare hands in the solid rocks. Others enjoyed a walk to the river side amidst boulders and woods and posed for fancy photoshoots.
Rappelling – time to walk up the creepy hill, right behind that 25m tall rock, saying hello to a little green snake and then “rappel” down that rock using tiny tools and a strong rope for support – needless to mention, we trusted the guides more than any of these tools.
Evening winded with the campfire, but we had our own campfire and sang to glory, to the amusement of the Field Director and the annoyance of others.
Day 4: @ 8500 ft
Finally, we walked with our packed backs on our weak shoulders.
An hour, 13 Kms bus journey to Ghatigadh – 7400ft
5 Kms, 4 hour trek to Galgithatch – 8500ft
Ups and downs throughout the 1100 ft climb through the mountains, wait, did I mention the favorite folk song we heard? “Oh meri Siri Devi kukke chali thu….”
Upon reaching the Galgithatch that evening, lesson learnt and carried for the rest of the trek – find your own spot, dont expect the guide to show you one 😉
Rain Gods came over uninvited but could not disrupt the campfire much – the camp leader did!
Tents got chatty and tent-mates only got cosier and closer.
Rosy Lips was discovered today – had the rains got to do anything with this? Hmm …
Day 5: @ 9800 ft
5 hour trek to cover 7 Kms to reach the Khora Thatch.
This walk to achieve the next 1300ft climb was through thick forests, beautiful amazing view of the snowy hills still at a distance.
Khora, or khoda – supposedly the land of apricots, although we saw none.
The dirtiest of all camps, yet the sunrise from this spot, the camp that is, was splendid.
Campfire today was the best-est. There was no stopping, thanks to the enthusiastic camp leader and the kitchen staff – who also sang a song or two for us. The 70’s and 80’s versus the 20’s songs went on and on, with or without the lights.
Stop, pose and take a picture and you start to hear background music – not in your head, but in your ears, for real – SP33 had its own musicians.
Day 6: @11000 ft
The snow clad mountain tip still teased us and looked unmoved although we climbed mountains and walked the rough terrains for hours. Today was a 5 hour walk to the Zirmi Thatch, we walked 6 Kms.
Ghazals topped the list today with the singers. The Ginger Lemon Tea here was something you asked for again and again.
Day 7: @12500ft
This was the shortest of all walks – 4kms and yet the toughest. Every uphill step tested and strained everyone’s energy, enthusiasm and determination – and of course the calf muscles!
The AlHabibi group was formed today.
“Sp-33! We are AlHabibi”
We couldn’t come up with a slogan in the first place and then, we changed them almost every occasion we could. This one lasted longer than any other!
The coldest of the camps, today we were above clouds, literally.
We saw mountains disappear in the clouds and reappear. Thermal wear finally got out of the bags.
Thanks to mouthwash 😀
Day8 : @ 13800 ft and down to 11000 ft
There were several occasions when one did think, why am I doing this to myself! But today was the day to reap the fruits of all the efforts put in.
First, the uphill walk through the meadows, AlHabibi no longer were the last to reach, they were ahead of most fast movers.
The walk in the snow, as beautiful and fun – if only you could stop thinking you won’t fall!
Some fell, but the sherpas were quick to get you back on your feet.
At the SarPass today, it all somehow made sense!
Then the snow sliding, woo hoo – the highlight of the day. I bet a thought of this and your heart still skips a beat. Some went straight, some stumbled, and we all wanted one more go!
Today was the longest walk, bed tea at 2:30 and the trek began finally at 5 in the morning, the earliest in the entire trek.
The last stretch of walk, through the pebbles to reach Biskeri Thatch did send shivers about the downhill walk to reach home now. It was a 10 Kms walk, which took over 10 hours.
Day 9: Bandak Thatch
The mini Switzerland of India – we were told was our next camp and that kept us going. Another thing that kept us moving was singing along – theme singing!
And to get there, we crossed two heavy streams, rappelled down the rocks and the climb back up to get to the Tea-Point was amazingly scary. We all reached, 38 of us
Ladkewale rishta leke chale the, the greedy pundit didn’t get the couple married.
Again, the last stretch of uphill climb to reach Switzerland was awefully tiring, but the view was indeed beautiful.
We played a game of cricket with a special over of 7 balls followed by Passing the Parcel made for a round of ROFL moments.
Day 10: Back to the Base Camp, Kasol
Trek up to Barshani Road (5km, 2hr)
Sad to leave and yet happy to end the treacherous journey, all set out singing back to the Base Camp, through the Barshani Road, without a guide today.
A little misguidance, a little overlooking and the insensitivity of one caused a bunch of us to find ourselves amidst thick jungles. No road, no directions, barely enough sunlight, a stretch of snake skin, no experience and switched off phones of the others of the group, no food, very little water, scare of wild bears as the sun would set down was all we were left with.
Go back or find a new way?
With the help of local villagers, the adventure came to an end, luckily – happy ending. Some of us must’ve been carrying really strong prayers to bring all back home safely.
The 2 hour journey took about 5 hours, and the 5 Kms turned out to be far longer, but an experience the others missed out on.
We collected our deposited bags and as we separated, formed the FaceBook page so the strangers could now be related as Friends.
If you still hear shouts of SP33 in the middle of the nights, it is in your head! Get on the phone and ring someone you miss!
By the way, where to next? Goa? 😉