The Himalayan Quest 2005

Monday, August 22, 2005

Day 3 (Trek Day 1)

On the trail
Kannan gazing at the horizon. Tired to the bone.
Today we hit the trail !!!

Taru and Dinesh came and woke us up early morning. We had a 1 hour jeep-ride in front of us. The mule trainer would be meeting us at Auli, the famous skiing resort. We would be starting the trek from there.

By 9:00 AM we got on to a Tata Sumo Victa, and started on our journey to Auli. We reached there by 10:00 AM.

As arranged, Surender Singh Martolia (Kaka) was ready with the mules. In fact, it was two mules and a horse. The horse owner, Bhagat Singh Kunwar, was also to accompany us on the journey.

After loading the mules and the horse, we set off by 10:30 AM. The trek had started !!!

Within minutes, we were gasping for breath. All those years of scant exercise and over eating were telling. We were like all those pilgrims who walk from Haridwar to Badrinath. Paying the penance for not having heard the call of the Mountain Goddess sooner.

After one hour, we reached the Hilltop Skiing resort. There was a small tea-shop there, which served us tea. This was also the last point of the rope-way which existed between Joshimath and Auli.

While we were resting we saw a group of foreigners led by some Indian guides come through the rope-way. They all were wearing the same kind of T-shirt, with the words "Spiritual Himalaya" written on it. Poor souls were probably being duped, in the name of spirituality and Himalaya. Sreepad claimed that most of the foreigners were Spanish. God knows how he figured that out, for he doesn't know a word of Spanish.

Soon, we entered the first forest section. It was not a very thick forest. We even found a small shepherd's temple in the middle of it.

As soon as we cleared the forest, we entered Gorson Bugyal, our camp-site for the day. It was only 1:00 PM. We had taken just 2.5 hours. Of course, the distance covered was small, being the first day and all. Also, according to our original plan, today we were supposed to be acclimatising at Auli. But Gorson Bugyal was a better place to acclimatise. Much closer to the nature than Auli.

Soon the kitchen tent was up and in another 5 minutes our sleeping tents were also up. Dinesh served us tea first and then set about preparing the lunch.

We lazed about in the bugyal. Sanjeev started sleeping, Sreepad started writing his diary and Kannan, Chandan and Dada set off for exploring the nearby hills.

The horse that we had with us proved incapable of carrying the load, compared to the sturdy mules. So, after lunch Kaka and Bhagat set off with it to Bhagat's home, to exchange it with another.

Kannan and team had not come back yet. I went to a nearby hillock to look for them. After about half an hour, I could see them coming. Seems they had gone far in search of the snow peaks.

After we came back from the hillocks, Sreepad and Sanjeev went up to take some photographs.

I had told Kaka the need for a stick, so that it becomes easier to trek, especially when going down the slopes. He said he would arrange one for each of us, but not from Gorson. Here the trees were sparse and the chances of finding a stick was low. Nevertheless, he managed to find one for me. Bhagat cut it neatly using my Victorinox Swiss Army Knife.

Supper was served early and then we all went to bed by 8:00 PM.


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