My First Himalyan sojourn…a dream come true!
I am so thrilled to write about my first ever experience in the Himalayas. It has been one of my dreams to trek the Himalayas since last 2 years. And for last 2/3 months I was getting impatient to fulfill this dream of mine. I checked with few of my friends if they can join me, unfortunately nothing worked out, but I was convinced that the Himalayas are calling me :). I finally decided to go for it! This would be my first ever Solo trip as well:). Little did I know then, that there were many learning & experiences awaiting me while I was planning my sojourn!
I was constantly checking ‘Trek The Himalayas‘ (TTH) and ‘IndiaHikes’ Websites for various options. Finally, I decided to go for a short and easy trek as I was not aware of how my body will react at an altitude of 14,000 feet and the freezing temperatures. I finalized on BhriguLakeTrek
The trek started from Manali on 29th September 2018 and ended on 2nd October 2018. It is located to the east of Rohtang Pass and is around 6 km (3.7 mi) from Gulaba village. When I checked about the trek on TTH site (that was a Friday, 31st August) it showed there were no seats left in that trek; but I was determined to go for it :). I called up TTH and inquired if at all there was any way to join the trek! Surprise Surprise!!! Malvika from TTH was extremely considerate, and looking at my earnestness, allowed me to join!! I was reminded of a very famous dialogue from SRK’s movie Om Shanti Om: Kehtehain agar kisicheezkodil se chaaho to purikayanatuseytumsemilanekikoshishmein lag jaatihai. I actually experienced it!
Now, I was looking for someone to accompany me during Delhi Manali road travel and after checking with TTH, Malvika provided me with the details of a person who was also travelling the same distance by bus. I got in touch with that person on 5th September 2018 and immediately booked my Bus travel. Then after reaching home, I surprised my husband with this news :P. I must mention that I am fortunate to have a husband like Kaustubh, he immediately nodded his head in agreement. I can’t thank him enough for supporting me so strongly to fulfill one of my dreams. I was so relived, and together, we booked my Pune-Delhi flights at night.
The mere thought of being in the lap of the Himalayas in a few days was so energizing and filled me with so much strength and positivity!! I recalled yet another dialog from SRK’s Om Shanti Om:
Itnishidaat se main tumhepaanekikoshishkihai, kiharzaare ne mujhetumsemilanekisaazishkihai.
As I was gearing up for the journey, help came from two of my friends: Nikita and Akshay. They offered to lend all their trekking stuff to me for my first Himalayan trek :).
Well, for the remaining stuff, a Decathlon visit was a must :D. So, Kaustubh, Aadu (Aaditya – our 7 year old son) and I went to the Wagholi Decathlon shop on a Saturday – 13th Sept. I bought new hiking shoes, balaclava, special hiking socks, trek pants, full sleeves Tees, fleece jacket, down-feather jacket and the whole works :). Again, I was guided by a very helpful Decathlon representative, named Harsh. Harsh helped me with all the information that was really useful for a beginner like me. I trusted him, and he kept my faith :).
Now was the time to be friends with the new Hiking shoes :). So out I went to climb the Parvati and trek the Sinhagad once in my new shoes!
Well, they say that hardships make your success even sweeter & your will, stronger! So, while everything was going as planned, suddenly out of nowhere, I caught a viral infection on 16th September so badly that I had to miss my office for next 4 days! I had high fever, cold and cough and all of them together ensured that my immunity & strength were depleting :(. From 24th Sept I started WFH and also started my recovery. The things were still hazy, but let me tell you honestly, I still had not lost the hope of going on my trek (I was so confident inside that no matter what, I am trekking the Himalayas). I had surrendered to that Universal Power. I had faith that the best would happen.
I was feeling better day by day and was gaining the confidence to fulfill my dream trip to the Himalayas.
Finally, on 26th I was confident enough that I am going 😊. The last 2 days, I was just counting every moment to start my journey in Himalayas 😊.
Finally, 28th September had arrived. After dropping Aadu to his school bus stop at 7.40 am, I came back home, had a nice shower and booked a cab to Pune Airport. After taking blessings from my in laws I got into the cab. I met with another friend of mine, Ankush, at the airport. We had a nice breakfast of bread & omelette and he wished me a good time and left for his home/office. I had packed Vermicelli upma from home for my lunch.
I got done with my check-in & security check and waited for my 11.35 AM Indigo 6E 148 flight to take me to Delhi.
In Delhi I met with a friend of mine, Prateek. He came all the way to pick me up at the airport and took me to a Aurobindo Ashram in Delhi where we meditated for 15 minutes.
I had absolutely no clue on how that 15 minutes meditation is going to help me on my journey ahead. I certainly felt composed and calm and more confident. From there we went to a restaurant to try out on some Delhi special delicacies like Gol-Gappa, some chat and Chholem Bhatura. Yum it was :).
He then dropped me at the ISBT Kashmiri Gate from where I was supposed to start my bus journey to Manali. I figured out my bus and by then my trek partner, Rizu, who lives in Delhi had also arrived at the bus station. It was a HRTC Volvo bus and we got into the 6.00 PM bus. It was an overnight journey and so I hardly got to enjoy the beauty around. Well, when I woke up in the bus , I woke up to see the serene water streams on the white/grey big boulders/rocks, and a comforting soft voice of the water.
Unfortunately, due to recent floods in Manali, the bridge connecting from Kullu to Manali was all damaged and so we had to get down at Kullu from where the TTH people had arranged a transport for us to Manali and to Gulaba (our first base camp).
We reached Kullu at 7 in the morning and went to have a chai at the stall around. The chaiwala was a very nice guy and he was concerned about us going on the Bhrigu Lake trek as few days before there were news of people getting rescued by helicopter from that area due to heavy rains. He actually tried his best to scare us :D. But, again I will say I was determined and had surrendered myself to the Supreme Power!
We had to walk over a bridge and climb up a small hill before we got into the TTH vehicles. I was enjoying everything that was coming my way except waiting in Kullu from 7.00 AM to 12.00 PM, which was really annoying 🙁
There were many other team members who joined us in Kullu and 3 TTH vehicles took all of us to Gulaba from where we started our trekking of 3 Km on 29th Sept itself. It was raining throughout until we reached our first base camp in Gulaba.
By the time we reached our first base camp (Altitude: 10,300 ft) the clock showed 6.00 pm ish. The tents were ready for all of us, thanks to kind TTH team :).
It was too cold, additionally my trek pants were wet due to the rains on our way to Gulaba base camp, that added into more chilliness. Everyone got out of the tents for dinner, but I was just not prepared to go out even after having my clothes changed. But then I was called for dinner, before which the group had done with their introduction and unfortunately, I had missed out on it. But, never mind, I was going to be with the team for 3 more days :). We had a delicious hot dinner of daal, subzi, roti, rice and vermicelli kheer and we went back to our tents for a good night’s sleep :).
The next day when I woke up I had a glorious ‘PirPanjal’ Himalayas Range in front of my eyes. Witnessing the Sunrise with one peak getting lit in a soft orange color and then the next and the next, was truly mesmerizing.
Oh yes! And how can I miss on mentioning the night sky lit up with millions of stars so close to each other. Oh! You guessed it right! By night time we had clear skies 😊.
Well, so we started our morning with a healthy tasty local black tea. (with some lemon, ginger, black pepper and cloves, if I am not wrong) For breakfast, we had egg bhurji, bread, mayo sandwiches, honey, butter,jam, corn flakes and milk :).
We started towards our 6 km trek for Day 2 (30th September 2018) towards our second base camp. During this hike, the first 1.5 hours is steep ascent and then gradual ascent till campsite (RolaKholi), via KolangNallah. The trail passes through virgin forest (silver oak, cedar and birch trees) with views of Manali & Solang. Because of the blessings of Sun God the climb wasn’t that difficult and we could spot some of the Himalayan Peaks: Mt. Hanuman Tibba and the Seven Sister peaks. By now, we had reached Altitude: 12,500 ft.
The climb is something with which you get to reveal a beauty outside and inside. Let me pronounce on ‘how Inside’. While I was climbing all steep paths, at points I got scared thinking if I fall how deep I will fall 😊 but then I started focusing only on the path in my eyesight and not looking at the far peaks. I was present in the present moment. That made me stronger and enjoy the moment and when I had covered some distance and I looked back I was so proud of myself for covering such a hard path 😊.
Finally at around 4.00 PM we reached our second base camp and pitched the tents for ourselves.
We got to witness hailstorm while we were enjoying our snacks while sitting inside a dinning tent. We had a chilled, windy night. I was wearing 7 layers on my body to save myself from the negative temperatures and yet, I was shivering. The sleep wasn’t sound but I had a sufficient one to be able to feel fresh when I woke up in the morning. The next day, Day 3 (1st Oct) was the D day :). We started the climb at 7.30 AM. From our base camp, we had to descend down, cross one nallah, then climb a big steep mountain with grass all over. We descended this mountain with brown and green colors to climb the next one that was fully white, completely covered with snow. This was when I was totally enthralled by the beauty of nature. It was my first time to be in the snow all around. We walked really steep paths to conquer that fully ice covered peak. Now, finally we had some flat terrain and I could see THE BHRIGU LAKE! Tears of happiness rolled down my cheeks. All the hardships, all the hurdles I had crossed to come here were dissolved. Only thing that I could think of was this : तु झ्या च सा ठी केला होता सारा अट्टाहास 🙂 (All the hardships/efforts were taken only for you, to be able to be with you)
After some easy walk I was right there at the lake, the Bhrigu Lake.
I gathered all the courage I had and removed my shoes to be able to enter the lake. (You are supposed to leave your shoes near the sign board that mentioned about not eating near the lake, removing one’s shoes and respecting the place) . Bhrigu rishi was one of the seven great sages, the Saptarshis, one of the many Prajapatis created by Brahma. Legend has it that the sage used to meditate near the lake and hence it has been rendered sacred.
The feet hurt badly for few moments because of the cold but I rubbed them to generate some warmth and put on my socks and shoes on. But then I was happy that I immersed my feet in that holy water of the lake.
This is an universal rule, if at the end of all the hardships/trouble you feel content or happy all that pain is worth the try.
We were carrying delicious rice in our lunchboxes and we ate it near the lake before we started our descent.
After a few steps of descent which indeed was steep, the snow fall started :). The TTH guides were generous enough to guide us with some really helpful tips like …you need to hit the snow with your heal and put the feet horizontally in order to give your foot the most support while you step down. Another important tip for me was placing the feet in V or L shape, that really reduced the strain on my neck while trekking.
OK, so the snowfall :). My first time to witness the snowfall. The sight was spectacular. The light, white snow was falling down very gracefully. I wasn’t sure what would happen after I walk in the snowfall (I feared my body will get numb 🙂 ). I kept on praying that the snowfall stops. After 2/3 times of talking to my mind and trying to put it at peace, I decided to surrender to the nature and believe that whatever is good would happen and I have to trust that. And here… I walked in the snowfall for almost two and a half hours and I was all fit and fine :).
Towards the end of our descent, the feet felt very very heavy, I had lost my confidence in putting my foot up for my next step. Unfortunately, I had no option but to keep going, ultimately I had to reach to my base camp. Because the more I wait, the longer I had to face the snow and cold.
Finally, I was able to see our tents and that had me garnering enough energy to walk until I reached my tent.
I had fulfilled my dream… <3 <3 <3…I was completely at peace, feeling very happy, more love for myself, I felt content.
We had hot Maggie with some popcorn when we returned. TTH people took really good care of us…can’t thank them enough for their generosity. Ate our dinner and called it a day.
The next day was just descending down to Gulaba and then starting the return journey of Gulaba-Kullu-Manali-Delhi bus journey and Delhi-Pune flight.
On the way back I enjoyed shopping for Kullu special Apples and some woolen stuff like stoles,jackets,socks etc.
During my entire return journey and even today I keep on reflecting the memories and the learning that I received from mountains. And here is what I can summarize :
I was constantly repeating God’s name while I was climbing/descending(that certainly pumped me with the positive energy within), when I looked at far peaks, my confidence shattered, in contrast when I focused only the path at my sight, I was able to proceed. I loved being with the Nature, the most. I loved the silence, I loved the beauty, I loved the hugeness/vastness , I loved the emptiness that was FULL :), I loved the air, I loved the light, I loved watching the grazing sheep and horses, I loved the freedom, I loved all the people I met (all TTH team, my trekking group and few local people), I loved myself for being present there. And when I had completed the trek, I so enjoyed the contentment and the happiness that came along.
When I tried to connect all this with my life, I figured out that I was still the same there in the mountains and I am the same one when I am back to my family/office. It’s only the outer world that had changed for me for those 5/6 days. I still can apply all of those learning in my day-to-day life and continue feeling the same way, because; I am still the same. My happiness is internal and it cannot be dependent on the outer, worldly matters and may I always remember this learning in my good and challenging times too.
I would like to conclude this article on a note saying that I am happy that I have begun my solo journey, external as well as internal and I will not stop ever :). I will keep on going in the Himalayas and keep learning the invaluable life lessons from them, after all I have found the love of my life :).
And with lot of fondness I wish that everyone in this world finds it too for themselves.
Do let me know how/what you felt after reading through my blog.
I will see you on my next Himalayan trek blog , if not earlier :). Till then …stay happy, stay fit! God bless you with all the happiness you deserve!