Climbing a mountain : Part 2 - Hips Don't Lie


Climbing a mountain : Part 2 

Hips Don't Lie

Day 2 - Sari basecamp - Roopini Bugyal - Jhandi top - Deoriatal 

One of the wonderful things about travel, is meeting people. Big city or remote mountain village, the people make the experience.  When it comes to the mountains,  some of the best people around seem to seek them. Evidenced by those who made the climb what it was. Not only our leaders in the climb, but those who were part of it too. Right through the climb, random acts of help and guidance came voluntarily.  Trekkers come prepared for a challenge - so they are generally in a good spirit, no-nonsense,  accept the challenges that come along with the experience and look forward to the journey and summit. What more can one ask for in team mates? Uncomplaining, self motivated, strong, helpful, cheerful people around you ? Bring it on.  I always had a helping hand (quite literally-  team mates reached out to pull me up or help me come down in difficult spots) . While the trek is spaced out and the climb is an individual effort, seeing that one human head somewhere ahead of me , gave me tremendous mental support ; my road might seem long, but I am headed the right way.  To all those who stopped to check if we were ok - cannot be thankful enough.  May the grace of the mountains always be with you. 

We left Sari base camp in full gusto, with the 10 kg bag-pack strapped on - carrying all that we needed. We decided not to offload and carry our own bag-pack - because it seemed the right way to do it.  Plus, the four of us had not brought family along-   lesser responsibility - so this was our time to  try and do things the seemingly hard way. We never  contemplated offloading. 

Yours truly, for the first 34 years of her life, did very little physical training. As a child, I was always the one that would curl up in a corner and read a book. The only time I did serious physical work, was  trying to  push a child out of my uterus. Even here, the docs helped and did a C-section . " You have wide hip bones and  pelvis, so you can deliver normally , no problem" ,  my first gynaecologist  told me. Did not work back then.  However, things came full circle. Never have I been as thankful for my wide hips, rear and legs as this trek. The bag-pack sat comfortably on my hips and I felt I had a natural advantage. My back is safe because my hips would do the heavy lifting.   I realised  this as soon as we started climbing sharp steps, steep ascents with the weight on our back. Hip-hip -hurray!   (apologies for the bad puns.. I get it from my hanging out too much with my husband). 

As we climbed up from base camp, we got  our first sightings of the snow covered peaks of the range - which was super exciting.  Ascending with the bag-pack was tough and I was still figuring out how to walk with the trek poles in my hands. Our trek lead taught us how to walk with the poles - I put it to practice, but it took time to get used to.  

(View en route to Jhandi top  - the massive cluster of snow peaks is the Chaukamba - she would be our constant companion mountain, till we reached  Chandrashila summit) 

My friend - our little group's climbing ace - Venky - on the Jhandi top trail

(Yours truly on Jhandi top - the smile is not because we had reached mid -point and a small summit .   I had just put down my bag-pack for the first time in a few hours. It is a smile of relief)

After Jhandi top we trekked some more and came upon a beautiful lake - Deoriatal. 

As a child, I had read the story of Yudishtra have a sparring of words with a Yaksha at a mystical lake where all the other Pandavas die after drinking the forbidden water. It is a beautiful, deep, question and answer session between the Yaksha and Yudishtra. Yudishtra satisfies the Yaksha's expectations and revives his brothers.  For those who want to read the story and the conversation as recorded by the Mahabharata,  Highly recommend you read it. 

 I had no inkling this was the very lake,  until my friend Raji told me. 

Our co-trek lead Manoj ji told us Deoriatal was sacred to the native people and touching or tasting the waters was forbidden. It is reserved for natives only. Fair enough. The lake occurs naturally, has perennial water and apparently never freezes. 

This is the touristy front view of the lake. We left shortly after sighting the lake to reach our campsite. Only to visit the lake again at sunset . 

Deoriatal - pronounced Devariatal , stood up to its name for me when we came back for it in the evening. 
Our trek lead Kevin said the sunset would be special, so it would be wise to savour it without letting the  urge to take pictures take away from the experience. I took his words to heart. Little did I know being with myself around the lake would lead me to one of the most defining moments of the trek - personally.

Sunset over the mountain range.

View of Deoriatal. The pictures do no justice to the beauty of this lake. 

Even before we reached sunset point, I felt being drawn to the lake. The view from the other side of the lake at sunset point, showed how massive it was. A huge, huge lake, with green waters, reflecting the green of the tall trees all around it. There was a gentle breeze and made slow ripples on the deep green water.  In the distance , Himalayan Langurs - silver coloured little monkeys, were jumping off the trees with their families. It was supremely quiet, pristine. I stood on the shore of the lake in complete silence. I felt the lake and trees speak to me. It was a clear message. I felt an overwhelming surge of gratitude to be in the midst of nature in all her glory.  Is it not my first order of business to preserve this the best I can?  What is of greater value than good air and clean water? Is there anything more precious than our resources? If being in service of nature is not my calling, what is?  I choked , welled - up and cried profusely as I walked around Deoriatal - tears of pure joy, mixed with a deep sense of gratitude, responsibility. It was a reinforcement of all my beliefs and I felt clearly I was not here by chance. I was not prepared for an epiphany. I guess no-one really can be. That's why it is an epiphany.  I will go back to Deoriatal - after a few years when I have something to say in return to questions I was asked.  The Yaksha lives on.