Sunday, November 05, 2006

Solo Trek: Hash, Getting Lost, Leopard

Namaste !!
I have just completed successfully my first solo trek of the year and wow what a trek it was. This trek was so full of danger, excitement, wildlife and beauty. In order to maintain the confidentiality of the people and villages I visited I will not mention the name of the places and people I met. But here is the synopsis of what happend.

Day 1: I leave Manali and reached this village from where my trail had to start.

Day 2: On first day of trek I stayed in a village where I was offered hashish in kilos and I also bump into illegal cutting of the forests where I also took some photos (not a very bright idea considering that I came into the limelight of all the villagers who sort of interrogated me laters). I stay overnight with a avery hospitable family in the village.

Day 3: Relying on my topographic sheets of the area I decide to leave for a meadow about 5 hours climb from the village. I temporarily loose my way in the jungle while going to the top and it takes me 9 hours to reach this meadow at 3500 meters. In the night I camped alone and it took me 2 hours to start a bonfire from the wet wood (I don't carry kerosene). The night was kind of scary considering that I was surrounded by dense jungle and many animals dewelling in it. Being afraid to sleep, I went for a 10 minutes climb from my tent in the moonlight to call some friends on my mobile and to let them know about my whereabouts. (The peak of the meadow was the only place where I could get the mobile phone reception and I was camping pretty close to that.) I sleep around 1 AM.

Day 4: Beautiful morning, I spent 4 hours just exploring the meadow and watching this huge gigantic hawk flying over the mountain. Finally around noon I decide to leave for my descent to the village on the other side of the meadow that should not have taken me more than 3 hours. After one hour of searching I finally found the trek that I trusted leading to my destination and whoaaaa ... what a trek it was ... it was right at the end of the cliff and very steep. After 4 km of downhill trekking where i desended 1200 meters in 4 hours I reach my destination village. My legs were sore due to the steep desent (despite the fact that I had been trekking on and off for 2 months in India). At the village everybody is very surprised and they tell me that the last trekkers that came from the route that I came from were some army personnel in the year 1999-2000. I am again very lucky to find an excellent family that took me to their house and I was given a kind of hero's welcome in the village. In the night I was again offered some hashish, but this time they also offer me a woman (for sex) ... whoa!! I refused both of them.

Day 5: I decide to rest this day as my legs are kind of sore. Walking around the village in the morning ...... Whoo ooooo aaaaa !! .... I found out that almost everybody in the village indulges in producing hash and they smuglle hashish as far as Europe. It was kind of funny to see almost everybody in the village making hashish, especially people doing it while they were walking around the village or talking with other people, they did this in such a casual manner. With the consent of my host I took some (actually many) photos around the village, people making hashish, portraits, landscape. hmmmm taking photos of people making hashish was again not such a bright idea as around midnight I heard knocks on my door and than I was surrounded by 3 people who sort of interrrogated about my intentions about trekking and staying in the village. They were kind of surprised that I did not accepted hashish and the fact that I had refused this woman from the village the previous night. I show them my passport and they seem to be calm and in order to scare them a bit I also told them that by mobile phone I was updating my friends about my whereabouts and the people I was staying with almost every few hours so that my friends could klnow where to send the rescue team or police in case they did not hear from me. Anyway one of the dude wanted me to stay for a week in the village in order to find more about me but I told them that I was leaving the next day in the morning.

Day 6: I leave in the morning after a sumptuous breakfast. I loose my trail again and around noon I found myself on the cliff slightly protruding through the forest. This place had an excellent view and a very steep desecnt on all sides. There were not really any marked trails in this area, so finding the right way through the jungle was kind of hard and there was always a chance factor. Relying on my topo sheet and with some common sense I finally found the right trail around 4 Pm and than I reach my destination around 6 in the evening. Not such a dangerous day so far, besides that walk in the thick forest. I stay overnight in the forest guest house and the security guard over there cooks a fabulous meal for me. He cooked some birds and they tasted so yummy, I was happy to be eating some meat after many days. I go to bed thinking that it had been a pretty safe day ...... Oooops!!!! I had no idea what the night had in store for me. Around 2030, I hear this weird howling while laying in bed, than I heard knocking on the door of my guest house. It was a security guard and he told me that there was a leapord that was very close to us. I had never heard anything like that before. The howls of this animal were so shrilling and loud and they were echoing in the whole of valley. For the first time in my life I came to know what it means to get chills down the spine. The howling continued for almost an hour and so did the prayers on my end and promises to the God that I will never trek alone again.

Somehow I was able to get some sleep. In the morning, I was treated to a fabulous breakfast by the security guard of the guest house, after which I started what was supposed to be the last day of my trek. Before I left, some villagers told me to be cautious as I was going to be walking towards the direction from where the howls were coming the previous night. Once I reached the pass which was close to 4000 meters (low altitude my Himalayan standards), I was very enchanted by the views and decided to stay overnight on the pass in order to take some photos of the sunset. For 3-4 hours I collected as much wood as I could as I was going to be camping alone in the middle of nowhere and that too pretty close to the place from where the howls were coming in the previous night.

Although it was a bit of a scary night, I was able to get some excellent photos with which I was very happy. I was also happy that the mobile phone was working at this place as I was able to make some phone calls to my friends in India and Canada. It was good to connect with friends as I wasn't very sure that I was going to make it alive the next day or if I was going to be devoured by someone above the food chain. I think the big bonfire worked and I was also blessed with some awesome moonlight and the spectacle o the stars.

After the beautiful night over that pass, I woke up the next morning and hiked for three hours to the village at the road head from where I took the bus to Manali :D

3 Comments:

Blogger Askinstoo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:43 am  
Blogger Rajnish Bhogal said...

Hi Sarju,

Nice to see that you are having a good time in India. Hope you recognize me, we have met before on trekearth.

Have a great time and have a safe journey.
Get in touch once you are in Delhi.

Take care
Rajnish

11:14 am  
Blogger Siya Kumar said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:23 am  

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