Activity started in the camp-site from as early as 2:30 am. Excitement was in
the air. Trek leads and guides were pushing hard to get people lined up as early
as possible, to avoid hiccups due to melting ice and snow in the trek. We
managed to get the whole group going by 4:15 am. It was going to be one of our
steepest climbs of the trek, to Bhrujgali, in the darkness. Owing to the
darkness, the two guides and the trek lead had to be helping people out, more
than usual. I ended up being the sweeper until it was dawn, with some company
from Abhirut, Ankit and Shyamlee. It was fun just screaming out to push people,
mentally. Much like cheering from the sidelines during a game of Ultimate.
It was inspiring to see people pushing themselves hard, despite their physical
problems. Asthma, cramps, come what may, lets get to the top! I hiked up with
Padmini, who was probably the eldest trekker and was slowly but steadily making
her way up. It always helps to have someone talking to you, to distract you from
your lizard brain. She was quite happy that I walked with her all the way up.
The bird watchers amongst us, were delighted by how many Monals they spotted.
The view from the top was gorgeous. Many many dozens of photographs were taken,
in various poses, and various directions. It all looked so glorious that nobody
really wanted to stop. So many snow covered peaks, all around. Raju bhai, Dhanno
bhai and Kamal bhai had a lot of work to do, telling all of us the names of the
different peaks that we could see. But, not before the excitedly told the rest
of the India Hikers that everyone in the group had summit-ed. They were very
pleased by the fact that the whole group made it safely to the top!
On some of the previous nights, I saw some folks use apps on their phones to
help them identify stars and constellations in the night sky. Nobody seemed to
have an app that helped identify the peaks. It would be interesting to find or
build something that does this.
The descent was much simpler and quite relaxed. 5 of the trekkers left early,
because they wanted to get to Haridwar for some more adventure and fun –
rafting and more bird/animal watching.
The weather suddenly turned bad. It got super cloudy and the wind got really
chilly, before there was hail and snow. Everyone got into their tents for the
afternoon, and this was practically the first afternoon I spent inside the tent.
Once we got out of the tents after a couple of hours, the landscape had totally
changed. Everything above about 50m from where we were was filled with snow, and
we experienced the coldest and harshest weather of the trek. It was the first
time, I felt I had got the balance of how much cold clothing I should be
carrying wrong. I had used up all the layers of clothing I had, and yet felt a
chill when I was not inside a tent. Next time around I'll definitely erring on
the side of carrying more. The weather didn't get any better until the next
We spent the evening in the dining tent, chatting away and playing Uno – led by
Mitali, a 10 year old who also breezed through the trek along with Dhruv who was
also 10. We stuck together the whole evening to keep ourselves warm, and the
trek was officially called to an end with certificate distribution and everyone
sharing some of their thoughts about the trek.