Sunday, March 31, 2013

Back into the Himalayan Ices (Gangotri-Kedarnath Trek 10.)


1: Trek preparations
2: Arrival in Gangotri
3: Gathering of Motley's Crew
4: Out of Gangotri
5: Beyond Bugyals
6: Trapped over cliffs
7: Auden's Col crossing
8: Trapped in the Khatling Glacier
9: Lucky to be alive
10: Back to the ices
11: Mayali Pass Crossing
12: Arrival in Kedarnath

Day 7 and 8
Day 7
In the morning we made quick tea and warmed up some leftover food from the night and wound up our camp quickly because we were restless due to falling rocks. Some rocks crashed around us. In two hours we touch the grass and bushes and we sit there and relax by the river and set up our kitchen to make lunch, weather is very nice and heavy Jackets is the thing of past now, neither I nor Briana wore these since yesterday.
As per my written notes, this general area is called as Chowki, from here here we are suppose to find various sheaphearders trails and also a bridge on the river. In this general area we are suppose to find another trail going back again in the ice mountains to Kedarnath via Mayali Pass. We don’t see any human here.
We cook both Poha and Upma and enjoy our lunch in the extremely beautifly area. We are surrounded by snowy peaks at three sides and fourth side is lush green mountains below us. We see many bears and their dropping everywhere. Much water stream crisscross this bugyal and then noisy Bhelangna River is also next to us. Kedarnath as well Ghutto both are now 3 days walk. I ask again to Biswas if he wants to go to Ghuttu but he says he wants to come with us. OK – no problem.
Place is so serene that we want to spend a night in this bugyal but first we want to identify trail going to Kedarnath. We keep walking and enjoying on the rough trail made by human feet. Time and again trail disappears and then again reappears.

Begining of the trail to Kedarnath

We are confused now but anyway we are not taking the trial to Kedarnath today. First day of trail we are suppose to climb 1000 meters in 7 kilometers but not today. We take the trail going above, it seems that this trails is being used by people and we assume it is going to Kedarnath. It is 1PM. Below we see a log bridge over the river and now I am assured that we are on the correct trail to Kedarnath.
We find a small clean water brook, I believe that we won’t be finding anymore brooks because the trail is about to touch the mountain and we are at the edge of bugyal. We decide to make our camp here. It is 2PM and plenty of sunlight.
We put up our tents and establish kitchen and then start washing our clothes. I give a RIN bar to Baba for his laundry. Water is freezing cold and it is difficult to remove soap from the clothes but somehow we do our whole pending laundry here and spread our clothes on the low stunted bushes. We even wash out boots.

Masar Top
After laundry I and Briana empty out our backpacks and spread out everything in the sunlight to make an inventory and discard anything that we may not need anymore. We still have about 2 liter of kerosene, just enough for three days. Many noodles packets are remaining and we will only keep 10 only. About half kg of daal, phoa and sooji remaining and we will keep it all. All parothas we already ate long ago. We have surplus sugar and either we can discard it or make Halwa. We used mostly our provisions, it is not because Biswas avoided using his stuff, but we always aggressively pursued to use our things to lighten ourselves as fast possible.
As we are about to cook, to tease Biswas, Briana says to me, “I want to eat some vegetables and too bad we didn’t carry any.”
Biswas goes to his backpack and brings out his vegetables.
He says, “Actually I was embarrassed to bring these out thinking you may laugh at me.”
“Biswas, you are a Godsend, believe me.”
We make cauliflower curry and rice.

Masar Top
From here we can see colorful meadows below us, as we are touching the green line but as we go below many species of wildflowers and herbs grow. Had we gone to Ghuttu, we were to enjoy our journey but we are going to Kedarnath. It is a designated trail territory and local people and sheepherders move around here. Anyway we haven’t seen any other human after our first day from Gangotri.
I sneak out for a walk because I want to give Biswas some time with Briana as I promised him so he vents out his desires and does not feel that he wasted this trip, as he is with us only for this goal. Chance of his success is not even one million to one, but actually I need an excuse to be with myself. I am my own best friend. It is 6PM and I keep walking on the rough ground of the bugyal for long distance. I see huge moon on the sky and whole meadow is lit up at this early. I arrive at the Bhelanga River and sit on the rock for long time and remember my summers in British Columbia.

Views of Chowki Bugyal from Masar Top
When I return I find a usual scene. Biswas tried to communicate with Briana and Baba poked his nose, and this made Biswas very angry. But this time they challenged each other and tried to beat each other and Briana intervened. Upon seeing me they all begin fighting with me.
Briana is angry that I left here alone to see all this.
Baba is saying that Biswas hit him and Bisway says that Baba bit him first.
I listen to them in utter amusement while sitting on a rock.
When they see I am not doing anything about it, they again rush to each other to fight but Baba changes his mind and comes to me.
He shouts, “इसे बचा लो, मैं इसे अभी भसम करता हूँ.”
“इसका भूत फिर सब को तंग करेगा.”
“करता रहे, मुझे क्या?”
“बेचारे मुसाफिरों के चूल्हे उल्ट पलट करेगा, उनके बर्तन पटके गा.”
“मुझे क्या फरक पड़ता है.”
“रात को सबको हैरान करेगा, परेशान करेगा.”
“करता रहे.”
“अरे बाबा, मैंने सुना है वैसे ही यह जगह भूतो के लिए कुख्यात है. ये खास जगह.”
I say this because Biswas told me that Baba is very scared of ghosts.
“चलो ठीक है, आज बखशा पर कल नहीं बचेगा.”
I feel the worry in Baba’s tone, his forehead is now wet with sweet.
I shout, “इस ख़ुशी में आज हलवा बनाया जायगा.”

Way to Masar Top
After Halwa, we gather our clothes, most are dry. We pack every eatable lying lose because bears are attracted to the food and retreat in our tents. Weather is great and vicious cold days are now past.
At night we hear shouts of Baba when he goes out to take a leak.
He runs back to the tent shouting – Bhoot – Bhoot – Bhoots are here.
We have a good laugh and then again fall to sleep.

Masar Tal

Masar Tal

View from Masar Top

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