Sunday, July 6, 2014

Chanderkhani Pass - The call of the Mountains Part 3 : Trek begins: Our destination Yosgo camp.

Day 4 – Trek begins: Our destination Yosgo camp. (9000 feet – 5kms)

5 am in the morning and  it was call for bed tea followed by breakfast at 6 and packed lunch at 7 am. No sign of rains and our fingers were crossed for clear sky. 7.30 am and we got a call to assemble in the ground. Finally that moment had come. I looked with hope on snow peaked mountains… Here I come. 

Kissed my backpack, shouldered it and was ready in line for other groups to see us off. Bid adios to Seobagh base camp with chanting of Ganpati Bappa Morya. Will only come to collect my stuff after completing my trek I whispered. The flag was raised and count was done, Field director and everyone wished us success. We marched out of Seobagh amid cheer claps from newly arrived groups. Our bus and a mini van were ready to take us to Malana dam 1 from where we start our journey.

Malana dam – 1 is on the way to Manikaran. As we drove up the mountains road the tall Majestic mountains with deep gorgeous valleys became more and more stunning. The roads were zigzag and narrow. It was not surely for faint hearted to sit next to window.  Don't know if they drive on such roads in the night. We gained height every moment as we drove and every moment it started to increase the discomfort in me. I was in the minivan with 13 people. I started to feel the effects of mountain sickness, felt nauseatic. I shut my eyes and prayed. It must have taken around two hours for us to reach Malana dam. We waited for the bus to arrive. I strolled around to get some comfort from uneasy feeling and then I threw it out. Hell !!! But instantly it made me comfortable. What a relief that was. Ajay & Manjusha madam were on standby for any medical advise. It's always better to carry medicines for mountain sickness. I was also carrying it but didn't need at that moment.

The station engineer at Malana dam on seeing us had come to speak with us. He gave insight about how the dam works and also talked about another dam at higher altitude. Our rest of the group arrived in sometime and so did our guide – Sheru. He was in his teens. Soft spoken or I should say no spoken. We had been briefed about Malana so much and so many times that it had become one dreaded place on earth and to top it we had this guide, A non talking guide !!!!  

We started our trek from here. It was around 10 am.  This was the start of our core trek. We walked on zig zag road and as we climbed we could see and guage the Malana dam. The feeder stream flowed close to the road which brought water from the melting snow from the mountains into the dam. Ocassional cars and jeeps passed by carrying locals including foreigners, giving us suspicious or starry looks. May be we had become conscious after getting bombarded with Malana village stories !!!! They moved on and so did we.

Clicking pictures on the way we reached what was the tunnel road in the mountains. We stopped here for some rest. The sign board outside the tunnel indicated it was landslide prone area. Crossing the tunnel road and another uphill walk, We reached a proudly proclaiming sign board indicating way to Malana village. It was instant celebrity signboard with almost everyone gunning to click pictures with it. It was another resting point for us. 

From here we climbed steps which was leading us into the coniferous forest.  Someone initiated an argument that we would be crossing Malana village today while the map at base camp showed it would be on 2nd day of core trek. Everyone pitching in their own version.  We moved on with the argument. We came across a bridge over a stream of gushing water which was nothing but a huge log of wood.  Some girls in the group needed helping hand while crossing it though not difficult. As we climbed our bags seemed to be heavier suddenly, recollecting the words from camp leaders to avoid carrying things that was not required.

We had our packed lunch in middle of the forest but close to flowing stream. It was best place in entire trek for lunch. Under the shade of the tree as we sat and removed our bags, It was so much of a relief. Food tasted its best. I took a small power nap before our guide signaled to move on. We were constantly climbing up since we started our core trek. There was no sign of rain today and sun was out with its full might.  Walking in the forest shade didn't pinch us but the moment we climbed in certain patch under the sun it used to suck the energy out of us. On one of our resting point there was one lonely hut. Wandered how a person would even think of staying here !!! They even had some land clearings on certain places for farming. As we chatted at our resting place a lady carrying a small kid came out of the house. She pointed towards wood stick that she wanted to sell. These sticks serve well as walking stick in the trek and was instant hit. She sold almost all of them.  She spoke very softly and tid-bits of hindi. She was a Malana lady as she refused to take money from our hand and asked us to keep it down on the stone. I could capture her in my lens and today when I look at her portrait it is by far the best picture I have taken in entire trek. She had so much of a simplicity and innocence on her face with her cute little child hanging on her back in baby sling all the time.

We got the first glimpse of our tents around 4pm. We had reached Yosgo camp and shout of joy erupted on its first sight. The camp was surrounded by huge mountains on three sides. Our camp was in the valley and facing a snow peaked mountains in front at a far end. Our camp leader welcomed us. Our camp was just 2 tents for guys, 2 for girls, one for camp leader and our blankets and sleeping bags, one for cooking and one for storing. It was such a joyous feeling of making it to first camp. In no time everyone occupied their place dropped their bags in the tent. It was such a relief.  

Our welcome drink was really welcoming. It was followed by tea and biscuits. Shreya the Mafia leader had injected the virus of Mafia and big chunk of our group was hooked into playing it. Tea was followed by hot tomato soup which again was welcome with sun about to set the temperature had dropped suddenly. Drinking ice cold water was difficult but then hot tea and soup replenished our water requirement.

From our camp we could see mobile tower on left side of the mountain top which was Malana village which we will be crossing tomorrow. It was quite a climb from the base but saw few ladies carrying logs of wood on their back heading to the top. We city dwellers enjoy the luxury and comfort but still crib about everything while these locals in such areas endure hardship in their daily life and struggle each day to keep their life going.

Our dinner was served around 6.30pm which included piping hot sheera. It was feast for Ajay as he doesn't eat dinner but only eats desserts in the evening. Here as well he was serving everyone and himself with sheera !!!! As it turned dark it started to rain but luckily we had finished our dinner so everyone rushed in the tent. Once inside the tent I can only think of getting in sleeping bag and blanket. Another day was coming to an end. Tomorrow would be a new day, new terrain, new experience these mountains have to offer

Trek to camp Behali (contd: page 4)

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