Sunday, March 31, 2013

Beyond Bugyals (Gangotri-Kedarnath Trek 5.)


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 2:
Baba woke up everybody by his loud chants. It is 6AM and freezing cold. Moisture is frozen on the walls of our tent and it is difficult to leave the comfort of the sleeping bag. I gather the courage and wear my shoes and come out. Not many peaks are visible and as per my written notes, we must follow main stream to the end and then we must identify Auden’s Col by pictures. From that point we must find the suitable way to walk to the pass in the snows and ices.
I and Baba go out towards stream to bring water and then we scavenge firewood to make a fire to warm us up but not much wood is available in this meadow. Trees are mostly birch and juniper and all vegetation is stunted due to the climate stress. When we return we see Biswas lighting his brass kerosene stove to make tea. Nobody wants to eat parothas but also nobody has any courage to start preparing some real breakfast in this freezing cold and it is just the beginning. We all eat parothas and then prepare second cup of tea.

Jogin Peaks

Then we pack up everything and look at the way ahead, some serious climb is beginning straight away. It appears that today we will be climbing over the walls. We start climbing by the cascade and each step is burdensome. At 9AM we arrive at somewhat level ground and so far there is a faint trail that we can follow. We walk at the mild pace and then we encounter a bubbling stream and it is a crisis about how to cross it. We walk along the stream and somehow cross it and then we lose the path. We have to climb to get to the next ledge and my notes say that we will again find a flat meadow.
Luckily we find some passage that is going up and we begin climbing on the rocks and our hearts are pounding and breathing is becoming difficult due to the thin air. We crisscross the stream several times and at many places crossing becomes difficult and we roll large rocks in the water to make our passage. We all decided that under no circumstance we will take any chance that may result in someone getting hurt. I made it clear that reaching at any destination is not our goal. Enjoying the life is our goal and everybody must avoid any risk taking at any cost. At a point stream becomes unmanageable to cross because as the day is growing water too is increasing in the rivers, we have no choice but to make a dam at the stream so we pass it. We all feel very week and sick.
After a brutal climb we come again to a flat terrain. Due to lack of oxygen in the air, our heads are spinning and we all are in a constant day dreaming state.
We find walking difficult and our legs are trembling. We decide to end our day’s walk at any next suitable place where ever we will find water. Now we see several streams but all are muddy and originating from the glaciers not far away. Slowly we keep moving ahead and it is now 2PM. We all want to stop to have a cup of tea but nobody is ready to unpack the belongings to repack again so we keep climbing and wheezing. We arrive at a big brook but water is muddy. We decide to make tea with whatever water is available in our bottles.
After tea, nobody has courage to walk any further and we all are in a confused state about to find better source of water and settle there. I and Baba walk further and cross the muddy brook and we keep walking and actually I am enjoying my walk without any burden on my shoulder. We come upon a tiny clear water stream but no flat ground to make our camp. We find a dangerously hanging flat ground after some distance just barely enough for two tents and we must be careful not to fall in the ravine. We return back and inform others about the finding of good water and carry our burden and go to that place.
It appears that we are at the edge of ices. If we walk another kilometer then we will be in the ices. It is better to spend our last night at some dry place.

End of Bugyals
It is 2.30PM and we keep our belongings at the brook and unpack things to make some fabulous spicy lunch. We are very alone at this place and it is apparent that no cattle-herders ventures in this areas because this area is devoid of any vegetation and grass.
Yesterday we made a good distance and height. I guess it was minimum 15 kilometers and we also gained about 3000 feet height, because we walked from morning till sunset. That was some achievement tomorrow but today it is not possible to cover same distance in such thin air. Although we are not dead tired like yesterday but we are in the persistent day dreaming state and everybody is stumbling or falling. We all are having a mild headache also.
It is decided to cook daal and rice and we fire up both kerosene stoves and simultaneously begin boiling daal and rice in two pressure cookers, I also add a fistful of curry-pattas and bear garlic that I plucked on our way. Meanwhile we cut onions, garlic, ginger etc for tadka. Result is a superb lunch. At 3.30PM, sun is already set behind the mountain. Frigid gust is whistling.
We leave behind our cooking arrangements there but haul rest of our stuff to the dangerous ledge where we found a flat place barely enough for out two tents. At this place no bakriwalas or any animal ventures so our belongings are safe and no need to worry. We erect our tents and I and Briana go out for a walk to a high ground to catch some last sunlight and to view the peaks so to identify the area. Otherwise I have no means to know where we are. Tomorrow we must find two peaks Jogin I and Gangotri III and Auden’s Col in between.

After Nala Camp
We walk about half kilometers to sit in the much needed Sunlight and there I take a bath at a waterfall, lucky for me. Otherwise in this cold there is no concept of taking bath here. After taking bath I feel very cold and then sunlight also dies so we walk. As we are near our campsite we hear 1008 shouting at Biswas.
“कम्बखत तू इतने बड़े बाबा से जुबान लड़ाता है. तुजे अभी भसम कर दूंगा.”
We hide behind the rocks and see them fighting. It appears that Biswas discovered some burn holes in his tent and in his bedding and it is understood that it is Baba’s smoking cheroot. Poor Biswas got angry and said something to Baba and now always-righteous-Baba is angry on him.
“एक तो मेरा बिस्तर और टेंट जला दिया अब उपर से मुझे जलाने के बात करते हो. सारी रात तुम गांजा पीते रहे और मैं खांसता रहा.”
I am so engrossed in this juicy dog-fight and Briana is very desperate to know about what is happening and I don’t want to miss anything.
My entertainment evaporates when Baba shouts, “आने दो लीडर को. या यहाँ मैं साथ चलूगा या तुम चलोगे.”
“हाँ हाँ, आने दो लीडर को. तुम अब मेरे तम्बू मैं नहीं घुस सकते.”
“अरे जा तू और तेरा दो टके का तम्बू. आने दो लीडर को. अभी फैसला हो कर रहे गा.”
I explain this to Briana, first she has a hearty laugh and then asks me, “What are you going to do now?”
I say, “Let’s go to a distance near the brook and make some strange noises and as they both come there to investigate, we return there from the back side and gather our sleeping bags and run away from here to Gangotri.”
“No way, we must reach Kedarnath. Running away is not a honorable solution.”
“Who cares about honor, we will leave behind our tent and all the rations for them to reach Lahasa in the Tibet.”

Well, fighting gets ferocious and they are about to beat each other and Briana asks me to go there and intervene. I have no choice because the only way is either towards the pass or towards our tents. There is no other way.
As they see me they both simultaneously being telling me.
I shout to 1008, “महाराज जी, यह अब आपको अपने टेंट मैं नहीं रखे गा.”
“इसके टेंट मैं रहने की हमारी कोई इच्छा ही नहीं.”
“फिर आप रात कैसे गुजारो गे.”
“आसमान ही हमारी छत है.”
“चलो इस बात का फैंसला हुआ. अब तो कोई झगडा बाकी नहीं.”
Peace returns and we descend down to the river to make tea and some light dinner although we are not hungry because we had late lunch.

A temporary lake in the mountains
At night it is a crisis about what to do with 1008-Baba, he may die freezing without a roof on his head. Biswas does not care about him and I ask Briana if Baba may squeeze into our tent but she has smoking allergy. I tell her to sleep with Biswas in his tent so I sleep with Baba and she gets angry instantly.
After tea we all eat a packet of noodles each. Baba curses us all and then disappears saying he is going to find some cave for himself and I doubt if he will ever find a cave here. He takes his blanket and sack with him. We return to our tents and wait for Baba’s return but he does not return at night. It is extremely cold and wind is howling and we have no energy to go out to find Baba in the naked mountains. I go out and shout for him several times but no reply, we could have given him our each and every spare cloth for cover like last night. He could have easily made a sleeping bag with our two backpacks although it was a tremendous effort to empty out both bags and then re arrange everything in the morning.
Biswas goes to the cooking site and then returns; he says he went there to hide kerosene containers because that is the most precious thing we got.

After second night.
I return to my tent and ask Biswas if he wants a drink, he says yes and comes to our tent. Unfortunately Biswas’s tent’s fabric was not fire proof and sparks from Baba’s cheroot made two potato sized holes in there that he mended with needles and a rag. He found several small holes in his sleeping bag and in other scattered clothes also. After the drink Biswas tells us that he hid kerosene bottles otherwise Baba may return and burn our whole fuel in the night to keep him warm. I don’t know what to say, whether Baba is entitled to all our fuel or not.

Jogin peak
Well we don’t know where Baba is and what will happen to him. Briana and Biswas both have a light Brandy drink and I have a drink from my raw alcohol bottle. We are only worried about coming out of tent at night and any misstep could be mortal and we may fall 300 feet below. Actually nobody is much worried about Baba now, including Briana. Nobody can share a roof with him with his obnoxious behavior and ceaseless gunza smoking. I don’t blame Biswas. We all only hope that he is returned back to Gangotri. After 10 kilometers of descent he may find bakriwalas and then Gangotri is a day away from there. Reaching here from Gangotri is treacherous but returning is no big deal. So nobody is shedding any tears and lucky for him that he took all his belongings with him.
But who knows where he is?
We don’t’ want to think about it and our thinking is already impaired in the lean mean air.
If any mishap occurs or simply I get lucky then tomorrow we can return to Gangotri and after tomorrow, there’d be no sense in returning because then it makes no difference either to go back or go forward. We don’t know if we will be seeing Baba again. Temperature is below freezing and moisture in our tent is becoming ice on its walls.
Single drink again hits Biswas and he begins telling us about his broken engagement.
“I did everything for this girl. One day it was early morning and she had to catch a train to take an exam. I promised her that I will send her a rickshaw. At 5 in the morning I went to the slums to this rickshaw puller’s home but he refused to come at this time because last night he slept drunk. I myself brought that rickshaw to her home and pulled her to the station because there was no other transportation around in those narrow streets of Sealdah.”
I say to him, “Wow man, bravo.”
Briana says to me, “This is some commitment, you should learn from him.”
“OK, I will give you a tour of Haridwar on cycle rickshaw. I myself. Or we visit Calcutta if you want a ride on that pulling rickshaw.”

End of red line is our second night halt.
Biswas again mentions that he will access the situation on the Auden’s Col, there he will decide to return to Gangotri or proceed further.
In the drunk state of mind he again offers Briana to touch Auden’s Col and return with him (let him [pw] go alone die in the ices) because Khatling drop is a very dangerous drop of more than 7000 feet and we have no first hand report about the current passage because Nature is always at work there.
Briana says, “We will see.”
“You are so beautiful and fragile, here is no sense in putting your life in danger, even a slight injury could be mortal. Nobody is there to carry you till Ghuttu, that is 12000 feet below. I myself feel responsible for your safety, I don’t much care about myself.”
She grins and replies, “Thanks for the compliments but we will see.”
He says to Briana, “I can do it all by myself but I am worried about you.”
“Well, thanks, Let’s get to Auden’s Col. Hopefully tomorrow or day after tomorrow.”
“Okey we will decide there.”
Biswas returns to his tent and we go to sleep.
Now Briana is real worried that Biswas would be leaving from Auden’s Col because deep Inside he is very apprehensive and scared.
I tell to Briana, “If he is wise enough, he should make his mind tonight to return at tomorrow morning or he can never return. Auden’s Col climb is going to be like Mount Everest walk. A collective effort of rope work is required to get there and returning is even more difficult and almost fetal for a solo person. As you know very well that, in the ices, going upwards is a lot safer than walking downwards.”
Briana sighs, “Please don’t tell him, he is not aware of this. We three people are better than two in such a terrain. I doubt if Baba will be returning and even if he returns it will only create problems for us. From tomorrow we will be in the ices.”
“Yeah, that would be the fun to watch him at Auden’s Col.”
सांप के मूंह में छुछुनदर
It is too early and unwise to say anything, who know what will happen to us in the following days.
Nobody can win against nature.
I jokingly ask her, “What if Baba dies in this night?”
Now she is really scared. Swamiji told that Baba is one of few people who spend winter in his cave but he is given enough kerosene and has enough blankets. Moreover he is always inhaling gunza smoke. But here Baba got only one blanket. If he is straying in the mountains at this height then he got good chances to die off.
If tomorrow we won’t see him, then we will know about him after several days.
Whether he lived of died.
Nothing we can do about it.
She says, “What if he dies, responsibility would be ours. Had we not coming here, he were not to die.”
“Stop worrying, we worry for so many things those seldom happen but other mishap happen for what we never worried.
I need another stiff drink and also I need to ration my alcohol so it lasts till end. We haven’t even seen frozen hell yet, there we all may need drinks to stay alive. Who knows, we may get stuck in some snow blizzard or just get trapped at some place or crevice. Alcohol would be the only lifesaving thing we got for such situation.
Wind is dangerously shaking our tents, some time we feel we may be uprooted from this spot. I curse for our choice of the spot in this hanging place. We are right in the path of howling and whistling wind. Hope our tents hold and we survive this night.
We made a mistake for not roping both tents together. It is too cold to anything now. Now on we will bind both tents together so if one slips other becomes an anchor.
Or one takes other too with it ….
So now on we will bind both tents and also make some secondary anchor. We neither have any hammer or spikes, to reduce out weight I got rid of spikes.
Somehow I fall to sleep.
Podophyllum grows in the Himalayan Alpine meadows. Although it is engendered and almost vanished from Himalayas due to its usefulness but it grows in abundance in North America’s hardy zones.
Its name in Hindi and Ayurveda is bantrapushi or Giriparpat. It is highly poisonous plant if misused. It is also called as May Apple because red apple like fruits appear in the month of May.
Late Professor of Materia Medica in Hering College, Chicago.
Presented by Dr Robert Séror

This remedy is seldom used except in acute affections, but it is a long acting and deep acting drug; it produces a powerful impression on the economy; it relates to the deep-seated miasms.
Everything taken into the stomach becomes sour. The glands of the stomach are as if paralyzed; there is no digestion; this goes on until we have vomiting and diarrhea. During this there is a severe disturbance in the abdomen; rumbling; gurgling as if animals were floundering about; clinically, as if fish were turning and tossing in a pond, as we have seen them before a storm.

Rumbling and rolling. This is attended with severe cramping pains doubling her up. Abdomen is sensitive; so sore she cannot endure pressure. The soreness extends to the stomach, intestines and finally to the liver. The whole abdominal viscera are sore, sensitive to pressure. After this comes a gurgling.
So this is a number one remedy for Cholera or Cholera like symptoms.

1 comment:

  1. very good post,very nice pics.the sad part is that baba has left for god knows where, i wish he survives the biting cold smoking his gunja cheroot.Biswas is an interesting character.


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