The Roopkund Trek: High in the Mountains
“I’m really looking forward to this trek, I want to live in the mountains permanently!” I said, tired of Delhi’s traffic. “Yeahwe can help you with that. We’ll make sure you stay with the skeletons in Roopkund”, Sarang said cheekily- as my mother looked on in astonishment,suddenly unsure if it was a good idea for me to go with such friends.
After an overnight busand day long car ride we reached our guesthouse in Loharjung. Trekking seasonhad not yet begun in full swing and ourgroup of 12 were the only ‘tourists’ inthe small sleepy town.
We were a motley groupof architects, engineers, students,entrepreneurs and housewives from Delhi,Bombay, Pune and Bangalore.
“So how was BMC?”, Iasked Nitin, one of the trek leaders, as weall crowded around with tea cupswarming our fingers, chatting and getting toknow each other.
“Oh you’re a Doctor? Youwent to Bangalore Medical College?” askedTambi as he gracefully executed hisfirst foot in mouth manoeuvre on the trip.“BMC is for Basic Mountaineering Course, not Bangalore Medical College!” chimedin the rest of us simultaneously.
The next morning, wepacked our enthusiasm and our back-packs aswe set off to the first camp inDidna Village. Maahi Ve from the movie Highway,blared from Paras’ portable speakersas we stirred the dust and made our wayalong the dirt track.
‘Aapka naam kya hai?’ Iasked our local guide.
‘Mahaveer’, he said
‘Oh, like in Highway!’wesquealed in delight at the symbolism.
On the way, Nitinexamined the branch of a tree. ‘We can use thisas daatun, I’m not carryingtoothpaste anyway. Curious, each of us tried the pungent fruit and bark. Yes,wewere in the great outdoors, in the lap of nature! We would be living offtheland for the next few days. Well, almost,and it was terribly exciting toimagine so.
After five hours of ourfirst day’s warm up climb through meadowsand steep hills, we reached Didna.
“Help, come quickly!” ascream resounded over the gentle liltingof cow bells. All of us admiring thesights and hills and were snapped out ofour revere by the urgent call toaction.
Paras, a boy with aconsistent, sweet smile, had collapsed asacute cramps crept over both his legs.
“Bring water, he’sde-hydrated!”, “Make sure you add glucose tothe bottle”, screamed Sarang. Theentire team was by Paras’ side, rubbing hislegs, holding his hand. We werehorrified by his screams, driven by the sharppain the cramps were causing. Theycontinued for over an hour and left himexhausted. None of us had seen anythinglike that.
The next morning, we gotready to make our way to the next camp-albeit, one man less. Paras’ could notaccompany us and we were all a littledisheartened. However, the breath takingviews- water falls high above, tinysettlements and step farms in the valleydeep below us- eventually calmed andrejuvenated us. We made our way up throughdense Rhodendron forests, soaking inthe vibrant moss covered tree trunks, pinkbuds adorning the higher branches asthey waited for summer to unravel theirpink brilliance. We were still belowthe tree line.
“Look at those blackclouds”, Nitin said nervously as he pointednorth of us, “It may rain any time”
Written By: Kanika Khanna