It’s been 4 months since my trip to the Himalayas, and the spectacular sight of the mountains still lingers in my mind.
Well, first of all, it wasn’t a trip. It was a trek. A beautiful, once in a lifetime experience. I’m calling it ‘once in a lifetime‘ because you go to the Himalayas for the first time, only once. It’s a thing you will cherish for years to come. Although I’m pretty sure that each time you go there, you are overwhelmed by how majestic the mountains are, just as much as the first time. And these are not just ANY mountains. It’s the Himalayas (which boasts of being home to 9 of the 10 highest peaks in the world) we are talking about! You can actually feel like you are on top of the world!
The trek was to Sar Pass(13,800 ft above sea level), and was organised by the Youth Hostel Association of India(YHAI). Sar Pass is located in the Parvati Valley of Kullu district, Himachal Pradesh. It was a 10 day trek, with the first 3 days being entirely for acclimatization activities at the base camp in Kasol. I must say that the YHAI had done a wonderful job with the whole organization part. They made sure that novices like us were comfortable and did not feel lost among many of the experienced hikers. The food was great and nutritious, and the daily training activities got us prepped for the strenuous task that was to come. We also had sessions on what to carry, what problems we might face at higher altitudes (altitude sickness) and what to do in such scenarios.
And finally, on the 4th day, we started trekking to Sar pass from Kasol, very enthusiastically I might add. To be honest, I wasn’t all that excited about going to the Himalayas initially. I was just happy to be away from the hustle and bustle of Bengaluru. To me it was just another vacation. Like if going to Goa was a 4 or 5 on the happy-vacation scale, going to Sar pass was like 7 or 8, because it was not just my first mountain hike, it was also going to be my first experience with snow. So yeah, I was excited, but not as much as how I would have probably felt about going to another country .
But the mesmerizing beauty of the himalayas, increased my excitement and joy exponentially to what cannot be measured on a scale.
The fresh, pure mountain breeze; the roaring sound of the Parvati river all throughout the trekking path; the tall green pine trees that seem to be reaching out to the sky; the chirping birds and sounds of nature which were pretty much a symphony to our ears; Mother Nature in her most ethereal, unrealistically charming form; and the splendid feeling of not having any care in world. No phones, no social media, no connectivity. It’s just you, and the mountains. The whole experience goes on to hold a permanent spot in your heart and mind.
There has got to be something in the very air of the Himalayas, which is evident in the flawless skin that the locals of the mountains possessed. And it’s embarrassing to even mention how strong they were. Here we were, struggling to carry a bag weighing 6kg, and these young women would stride past us carrying huge bags of rice and other necessities, as if it were a feather pillow, wearing footwear that were almost worn out and definitely NOT suitable for hiking. But then, hiking was a child’s play for them. They had grown up climbing up and down the mountains, all their lives. We also realized how precious each grain of rice, that we get at each of the camps, is. Wasting food at such places (or any place for that matter) would be a blatant disregard of the efforts that these locals put in.
There were totally six camps during the course of the trek – Grahan, Padri, Min Thatch, Nagaru, Biskeri Thatch and Bhandak Thatch. We were constantly told that Bhandak thatch would be a heavenly sight, almost similar to Switzerland. However, I felt that Min Thatch was the best camp, and also the best place I have been to till date. I love sunsets and how they paint hues of orange and violet in the evening sky. And the sunset at Min thatch has got to be one of the most beautiful things in nature, I have ever witnessed.
The entire trek was not too daunting. The trek to Nagaru campsite was probably the toughest during the whole trek, due to the steep ascent. Staying the night at the Nagaru camp was an adventure in itself, what with the windy rain (which seemed like a storm to us) that got us worried that our tents would fly away. We did survive it, nevertheless. The camp leader later told us that this was just the usual rain, like it was NOTHING!
Overall, Sar pass is a good choice for people who are hiking for the first time in the himalayas, but also want it to be a little challenging at the same time. There may be times when your legs and body give up and you feel you cannot go on anymore. But then you look up, see the destination and get motivated to continue, because in the end it’s worth every drop of sweat that you shed. The feeling of accomplishment that you feel once you reach the top of the mountain is something that will live on with you forever.
It’s one such experience wherein even though you have scaled the mountain and are feeling proud of your achievement, at an altitude of several thousand feet you just begin to realize how tiny you are in front of the gigantic mountains, and how less you matter. You feel not only high and proud, but also small and overpowered, at the same time.
I could use all the nicest superlatives I know to describe the Himalayas, and they would still fall short. Even months after coming back to the relatively dull life in a city, you can just close your eyes and picture the alluring mountains and relive the thrill of it all. My friend and I are already waiting eagerly for our next Himalayan trek!
Such is the effect of the mighty Himalayas.
You go with the intention of conquering the mountains, but they end up conquering you, body and soul.
(Also read – We Live And Die But the Mountains Are Here Forever – http://wp.me/p7PDHR-n for a detailed write up of the Sar Pass trek)