Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Chanderkhani Pass - The call of the Mountains Part 6 : Trek to highest camp of Nagroni at 10000 feet

Day 7: Trek to highest camp of Nagroni (10000 feet, 5 kms)

It goes without saying that as usual my day started around 5 am. Felt proud of myself !!!. lol Now imagine first thing in the morning you do is to trek down the valley for nature's call because the toilet tent is only 420 steps away !!!! Hilarious ……... and not only that, The tent was pitched right next a ice glacier and its freezing cold, also with wind blowing, our tent was barely able to hold on. What nonsense this was !!! Men were taken for granted for sure in this camp.

Remember this camp was on slope and with overnight drop in temperature, or may be due to rain the ground was wet, I didn't want to take any chances so today I did "some" warm up exercises only by standing. No breaking bones on the trek !!! or Let's be honest I didn't do any exercises because due to intense cold temperature, I was barely able to stand. 

How to exercise !!!

One advantage of waking up first among all on such treks are many and one of them is that you can see all half asleep, funny faces struggling to come / squeeze out of the tents and then trying to wear shoes / floaters etc in half closed eyes ... lol...... It's nice to have a early morning laugh

Morning breakfast was something that I always looked forward to in these camps, Hot and tasty breakfast every day and today again it didn't disappoint me. Hot Chole puri for breakfast !!! Life seems to be so good here in YHAI camps.

Today our journey was to begin for the snow clad mountains and what I had heard from camp leader was that next camp - Nagroni was in snow and Chanderkhani pass with some couple of feet !! I was super excited.  We were just one day away from Chanderkhani pass.  I had goose bumps thinking about it. Our guides arrived on time. We had two guides to lead us. With packed lunch and our guides leading we set off for our next camp around 8.50 am. I sat foot on ice for first time and walked on the glacier with our guides standing by for any helping hand.  Among us Hari was leading the pack with slow walkers in front, I was a back bencher in schools due to my height and here also I was among the people at the back …Sigh. 

Crossing the glacier we moved into the woods. Huge coniferous trees welcomed us with some fallen and some standing tall.  These trees are locally called “Harash”.

We were walking on the slopes of the mountains with bark of trees fallen here and there. We also had to jump many of them. Lot of deforestation has happened with forest land being cleared for farming. These forest of Parvati valley are famous for growing charas. I doubt any government or forest official would ever trek to such heights to keep check on such illegal business and my question to our guide on what was grown here got a cold response. He moved on and so did I. Our walk today included walking down the valley and climbing up, passed by waterfall which was falling from incredible height with mighty force.  On our way we could see the 2nd Malana dam so we were now top of Behali camp.  It seemed today’s walk was more of a trek and first three days was mere practice!!! 

Today Shreya and Maya had become pink sisters or pinkies!!! Don't know if they were wearing the same color T-shirt / sweatshirt all these days but I noticed it today. They would walk in front along with girls gang when Nanabhai Sir yelled at girls to move in front but then eventually fall back to walk with us. The Pinkies !!! :-) .....

Pinkies !!
Oh, sorry if that was a distraction, Back on the trek now. We had been walking continuously since we started in the morning with just one or two small halts. 

It was around 11.30 am that we reached Maggi point. This was our lunch break – first major halt since morning. It was a relief to get the bags off our shoulders. Today’s maggi cost was Rs 50, maggi’s cost was increasing as we reached higher altitudes. Rs 50 for small 10 Rs packet. At base camp it was Rs 15 and then it increased to Rs 40 between Behali and Waching, Rs 50 for today !!!

Thanks to Shreya for keeping this price list check. She was the one who couldn't resist maggi at all such maggi points. Her argument was "locals take efforts to carry them at such remote places where nothing is available and also our guides run these shops in partnership with them. They not only lead us safely in the mountains but cook for us as well". ok .. Can't argue.. She is noble at heart !! But yes Maggi does taste more wonderful in mountains especially after a trek so any excuse is good excuse .... lol

While sitting at lunch point, Maya spotted “seven dotted lady bug” …. She took all effort to count those dots on that already minute creature and was all excited to point to everyone interested.  

After a rest of one hour we started our trek again. It had began to drizzle after a while. It was rain mixed with snow / ice.  Pearls melted as soon as it dropped on the ground.  Wish we could walk in snow rain but fear of it turning into a snow storm stopped us from making such wish !!! The whole affair didn't even last for more than 5 minutes.

The walk on the slopes in the morning had now turned into ascending walk on the mountains. We walked up while the water from melting ice was gushing down. We reached a spot on the mountains from where the view of deep valleys combined with majestic tall mountain peaks was mesmerizing but before I could remove my camera, it started to drizzle again and I had to remove my poncho instead. I couldn't capture the view but hoped I would get better opportunity ahead.  Our ascending walk became more and more steep as we moved among the last patch of tall coniferous trees. Mountain peaks which seemed so illusive and far away all these days seemed to be at a touching distance.

We walked on ice a few times but it was almost melted making the ground slippery and puddle had formed at some places. Many of us were too tired with the climb and were walking at snail pace. Hari who had been leading the girls pack from the front was suddenly among the back benchers group. On asking he said he got suspended as he failed to keep the girls motivated and in one group. He was happy to be among us. Hari lost his fiefdom to Yatrik who eventually assisted Nanabhai Sir in managing girls gang till the end of the trek.

Hari later got "suspended" ..lol
It was around 3.30 pm after a real real trek for first time in last 4 days we got to see the first sight of the camp. We had reached Nagroni camp. My happiness knew no bounds not from the fact that we had reached the camp but we had reached the height of 10000 ft !!

One sore point was the entry point for the camp was littered with tissues which made it very nauseatic otherwise the camp commanded the most beautiful view of snow peaked mountains, located on the plateau which had a huge flat surfaced rock, The rock saw all the action of people jumping for the photo shoot later.

Falling in love with the mountains
Two of the tents in the camp opened to a fantastic view of mountains, just open the tent flap and all you can see is snow capped mountains. Enough for someone to fall in love. Unfortunately it was given to girls gang. We guys taken for granted again !!! Lol

Flat rock which saw most of the action

We were welcomed by our camp leader who informed us that few days back this camp site was entirely covered with snow and it was freezing cold but we were lucky that weather had cleared and that as soon as we reached here the sun started to shine brightly. The scene of the mountain peaks peeping out of the clouds, every changing color of snow mountains with sun and clouds trying to overpower each other had such a mystical appearance, it was like we were in heaven. 

Nobody wanted to go inside the tent, photo shoots were happening everywhere. The photographers waited for the right moment to capture everything that was on offer.

My Lost and found nieces !!!
I had a one surprise in store here. Two sisters Arshia and Masira who had never spoken a word with me in entire trek came up to me and said I resembled their uncle in face looks and voice. Tears of joy flowed !!! I had two lost nieces which I found at 10000 feet !!!!  Uncle and niece reunion !!! waah waah, waah waah …… I later found that Masira was youngest of us all. proud of my niece’s achievement !!!!

leisurely Tea time
Our evening tea was served with handful of fried peanuts, I had never eaten such combination and it tasted so awesome that each one had multiple peanut rounds. It had become our daily ritual of drinking tea after reaching higher camps and then topping it up with hot tomato soup after sometime. Today was no exception. And I longed for such hot drinks because of one nasty experience of drinking ice cold water at Yosgo was enough eye opener. Our dinner was served at 6.30 pm, I cannot recollect dinner menu and I cannot forget the dessert. It was "Gulab Jamuns" for dessert !! Imagine hot gulab jamuns at 10000 ft !!! Unfortunately it was rationed and everyone got only 2 pieces and none wanted to share it with anyone, Else there would have been queue for it than for dinner. Everyday after dinner one task I really hated was cleaning of tiffin box, Not that I have some royal blood flowing in my veins and I haven't done it at home but water was so cold that after cleaning it took almost 15 minutes to bring fingers out of numb state, I used to wash it everyday in the morning after sun rises but today I couldn't avoid, I had to do .......We had to get up at 2.30 am next morning to start our journey.  What a torturing task that was !!

Washing tiffin in icy water
We had gala time today after reaching Nagroni with beautiful location of the camp, amazing view of the mountains, clear sky, loads of pictures, tasty gulab jamuns !! 

Photoshoot at Nagroni

We sat and talked

Some even did this !!!!! Seriously
Couldn't ask for more. It was getting dark and cold as sun had set. Today's day had a happy ending. By 8 pm I was back in the tents though some stayed out to enjoy and do star gazing, I packed my bags properly and ensured I was ready for the tomorrow’s epic journey, crossing Chanderkhani pass !!!  We also had to wake up at 2.30 am and only had just couple of hours to catch up on sleep. I was asleep the moment I sneaked in my sleeping bag ……….

Tomorrow we cross Chanderkhani pass (contd 7)

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