Trip to the Himalayas: Of Starry Nights, Snowfall, and More

Edited by: Sonal Rana 

 

Let me get this out there first—I’m not an athletic person. For me, even 15 minutes of walking on a treadmill is a task in itself that leaves me exhausted for the rest of the day, which is why I’m still amazed that I managed to trek for 13 hours straight in the Himalayas.

 

This was my first ever trekking trip, which I thought would be but a relaxing vacation in the midst of scenic mountains. I couldn’t have been more deluded. As it turns out I left out a crucial detail: to chill in the mountains, you have to climb the mountains.

 

After a rather hurried packing session, I was off to the mountains with a group of 16 odd people, not one of which I actually knew. The ride from Delhi to Manali was a full 12 hours, and I believe that I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that I didn’t sleep a wink. That wasn’t the best  situation to be in since I’d have to walk a long way with a heavy rucksack very soon, but there was nothing I could do about it. Soon enough, we arrived in the gorgeous city of Manali, surrounded by far-away mountains, sheep, and an abundance of street-side dhabas that made just the kind of paranthas you needed after a night-long journey.

 

We reached our base camp around noon and were introduced to the person who would be our guide in this trek. After freshening up and having a quick lunch, we were off towards our campsite in one of those mini trucks you see in rom-com Bollywood movies. I crossed one thing off my bucket list that day: riding on a truck while listening to Nazre Milana from Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na .

 

Although we were supposed to trek further that day and camp at a different spot, bad weather left us with something even better. We ended up camping at a different, yet admittedly majestic, place with a clear view of snow-peaked mountains and a stream near-by, which by the way had the most delicious tasting water ever. We spent the rest of the day just taking pictures from various angles to capture the scenery just right. And of course, we had maggi and chai, which is absolutely essential when you’re in the mountains. What’s more, we also learned how to put up a tent! Since our bonfire plans did not work out, we sat outside in the freezing cold at night and listened to some slow music—comes close enough, I guess! During the night, sleeping inside the comfortably warm and cosy sleeping bag was a different kind of heaven, I must admit.

 

The next day was the most important day of this trip. Although we were supposed to leave our campsite at 6 am sharp, rain delayed our plans, and we ended up leaving by 7.30. The first few hours were easy. Even though the change in plans made it harder for my stamina to cope up, I guess the fun company pretty much compensated for it. The trek from Bakhartaj to Beas Kund, which was our destination, was a different journey altogether. From climbing rocks on all fours, holding onto tree branches overlooking the cliff, and falling on the rocks and hurting myself pretty bad (to which the guide said, amused in his own right, “what’s the point of trekking if you don’t fall!”) there was barely anything left for me to experience.

 

Although I was pretty sure I would die before reaching the summit, I did eventually manage to get there. And I must say, it was worth it! For anyone who doesn't see the fun in trekking, I would recommend them to do it for the view that one gets to see from the top of the mountain. You could take a 360 degree turn and look in any direction, but you wouldn’t be able to decide which view is more beautiful than the other. That of all things, makes trekking a subliminal experience.  

 

Climbing downhill was a different sort of adventure altogether, especially since it got dark midway, and only a few people in the group had flashlights. Regardless, we all managed to make it back to the camp alive, and mostly unscathed (can’t speak for myself there). After a filling dinner, some gossiping and horror-story-sharing-session, we were off to sleep for the last time in a tent in the Himalayas (for the time being, at least).

 

So yes, even though at multiple points in the trek I was absolutely sure that I would not make it back alive and that my assignments would have to remain unfinished (the only good part of dying), here I am, writing about a trip that in retrospect was everything I could have wished for, and even more. The very bunch of people who were previously strangers are now people I have meals with or go watch movies with. Plus, I  now have an abundance of photos to post on Instagram. And above all, memories that I will cherish forever. 

 

The best part of it all? I saw snow fall for the first time. But I guess the fact that Jackie, our companion dog, followed us to our campsite from the summit and decided to sleep in my tent for the night gives tough competition to that.