Monday, July 7, 2014

Chanderkhani Pass - The call of the Mountains Part 5 : Trek to 3rd camp – Waching

Day 6: Trek to 3rd camp – Waching (9300 feet, 7kms)

My day started again at 5 am. I have been waking up on daily basis at 5 am, wish I could replicate the feat back home !! It was freezing cold outside the tent but our cooks were up and busy preparing tea, breakfast and lunch. They have been doing this from last 20 days and would continue till our last batch for another 15 days more!! Had a chat with one of the cooks and came to know that they were exports from Delhi & not locals. They were on a contract for one month with YHAI. I appreciated their hard work of providing us with hot food in such harsh conditions.

Slowly it was good morning for everyone. Nanabhai Sir and few of us started the warms up for the day. It was important to stay fit. Two more of our group members had left at 4 am in the morning unable to withstand the cold climate. Our strength had been depleting on daily basis since we started. If anyone wanted to return back this was the last point as one could get some transport for going back from Malana dam site. 

Sky looked dull and over cast, Sun was playing hide and seek.We prayed and hoped it doesn't rain. We had our tea, breakfast and also our packed lunch was ready but no sign of our guide. It was 9.15 am. We could only wait. But guide did turn up around 9.30 am and immediately we started our march , bid adios to one more campsite. On our way we came across few empty houses. This part of the world is very scantly populated. I learned later from our camp leader at Waching that local villagers from Malana and nearby areas keep these houses and do farming during the summer months and move back to their villages in winters.  

We had walked for a short distance and came across maggi point where we had our first halt. The small tented shop was serving Maggie, omlet, tea and coffee.  These tented shops are only shops selling limited food stuffs on the way.Prices are directly proportional to remoteness and altitude of the area. Today cost of one cup of coffee was 30/-. 

We had barely walked today and we had our first break. For me it was my first coffee break since I left home. !!!! Kaapi aroma was as good i felt, May be I had forgotten what kaapi smelled but I just loved it. Had some rest at this point to get over the hangover created by kaapi !!! lol.....

From here we took a U-turn and started to climb up. The climb seemed tough and I was almost gasping for breath. Luckily it was not a long  climb and we reached a plateau which was almost parallel to Behali camp only that it was at higher altitude. Surprise of the day was this plateau which was size of cricket field with few houses and land ploughed in for farming. But the view of snow peaked mountains was nothing short of spectacular. They were at a kissing distance !!! Just opposite of the plateau. I really envied the villagers who had their houses here, You could sit whole day here and just watch spectacular views and never get bored….  We wanted a halt here to take few pictures and our guide informed that we would be halting here for an hour or more and move only after lunch. Wow this was the shortest trek in last 3 days.

Aamchi Madam's

Yatrik and most of our group found a small companion, a small kid who was playing cricket and they all joined in to play the game.  The kid was overjoyed to find so many new friends and was happy to play with them. I was more interested in capturing mesmerizing views in my camera. Some explored the plateau and indulged in photo shoot while some lay idly on the ground while major chunk was into playing cricket including the gang of girls.

Don't wanna trek today !!!

Our halt was longer than 3 hours on the plateau. Our guide informed that next camp was just a small climb away so was happy to provide us with the extended break.  Sky as usual was overcast since morning and it started to rain. Ponchos were out. Small drizzle was enough to scare the shit out of us for the experiences of our previous batches would roll in front of us. As soon as it started to rain all of us tried to squeeze into one solo tent which was yet another maggi point on the plateau. It reminded of Mumbai local train rush hour. 
Chal andar chal types !!!! 

Few of us decided to have tea here which turned out to be soooo sweet that it would bloody make some syrup look in shame !!!!! I am pretty sure it was idea of two Dr's, Ajay and Shreya who can digest whole sugar factory and still come out smiling ..... lol

Luckily for us it was just a drizzle and as soon as it stopped we started our journey to our camp and within a small climb of 30 minutes we reached our next camp of Waching. Fortunately the camp was not a ship without a captain like in Behali and our camp leader was there to welcome us.  We must have reached by 3 pm. Our welcome was with Lychee drink followed by Tea and biscuits and then hot tomato soup.

Waching camp was also on small plateau with company of only two houses of villagers and their farms. The camp was also built on a slope which makes life hazardous if it rains or if ground is wet. I remember 6 people from earlier batch returned from here after experiencing slips and falls during bad weather. Luck was with us as ground was neither slippery nor it rained  !!!!!

Behind the camp was forest area with trees reaching a height of 50-60 feets.  The snow capped mountains were now moving closer each day we moved to a higher camp. Rains had stopped but overcast sky looked threatening.  Aasifa was our hope as she would say she has made friendship with "sunny paji" and he would come back and as if her prayers were answered Sun was shining again after being in hiding for entire day.

Sky getting clear after Aasifa's prayer !!!

Our camp leader had informed us that male’s toilet tent was down the valley.  Nanabhai Sir on his call for nature went down the valley only to find that tent was deep down at exactly 420 steps from the camp !!!! It was warning call for all males not to wait till last moment and to start the trek for nature’s call at the start of pressure build up ……….. hahahaha

One incident that had few of us running to our tent was sudden shout by none other than Shreya Goshal I mean Bala that there was rats in the tent. God !!! I ran to confirm that my bag was sealed to the core. I am sure rats had a gala time at the camp for a month when everyday a new batch would come with everyone carrying some form of sweets like chocolates, dates and so on…. And they would just sniff and hole it out from their bags. Shreya narrated her story in morning as to how she and her tent members had saved their bags from getting drilled in the night by bundling it in a blanket. I remember someone in my tent waking up in middle of night only to find rats had feasted on his chocolates and some food packets tasted !!!!! I was too sleepy to see who had that experience but confirmed my bag was safe and was off to sleep. Lol

Our Dinner was served by 6.30 pm and we were free by 7 pm.  What a life !!!  Night saw everyone gathered for camp fire where people had fun narrating jokes, ghost stories. That was followed by game of truth and dare. Don't know till what time it went on but I was back in my tent first to ensure that my bag was safe from rats and then into my sleeping bag.  One thing that I had learned to enjoy and cherish after coming to this trek was my sleep. A proper sleep ensured that you were fit for trek next day. 

Tomorrow we trek to next camp which was at 10000 feet, A feat that I had not yet accomplished in my trekking journey and it would be my first time to reach such a height !!! 

(contd :6)

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