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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Kashmir Great Lakes : Day 2



You know what is the best thing I like about Himalayan trek? It is the waking hours. All your best efforts are required to move your ass out of the coziness of the sleeping bag and in a bent motion come out of your tent. But the moment you crane your neck out, the beauty and the bliss of the Himalayan range appears as if to remind you that you are truly in heaven.360 degree panoramic view of mountains, lovely Pine trees,Cool pleasant weather.

Amazing mountains
Vast meadows with horses grazing on them
Lush green meadows


This morning magic is coupled with the musical rhythm of the flowing river (as mostly the campsites are along the flowing rivers,streams or lakes.) and for the trekker like me the next best thing is to see the steaming kettle of tea sitting pretty in the middle of campsite and me enjoying the bliss of hot cup of tea
Waiting for the streaming tea to come out of that Kitchen Tent
Crash #$#%#* Puure Dream sequence ki phir se lag gayi , Pucho kyo because Bhaiyo woh chai pilane koi Ramu kaka nahi aane wale, Khud ko koshish karni hai, Yes to drink that tea I have to first take my cup wash it in the flowing river or the stored chilled water , Imagine the effect of thermal shock( I learnt this word from Amit). So the next thing is to brave the thermal shock of chilled water so as to fire up the intestinal furnace. Well thats how the day started for me today.
Oouch !! Bahut hi thanda hai pani
Technically today was the first day of actual trekking. All talks of yesterday evening of getting up early and leaving the camp by 7 was completely forgotten, Ab ek din me toh sab ko Milka Singh nahi bana sakte na ki aap subah jaldi utho aur bhag ne nikal pado, Time lagta hai Jaani !, saher ki aadat jaate jaate. First day, First show ke jalwe hi kuch aur hote hai , full  on commotions with activities like submission of document for Army verification, collection of packed lunch, O2 saturation test, Pulse check etc 
First Day First show ka commotion
Arre yaar kitna kaam hai , Trek karne aaya hu ya Hospital ward me baitha hu, But I understand yeh sab bhi zaoori tha.Somehow everyone pulled and pushed through to get ready followed by another round of explanation by the Trek leader Suman whereby we were informed to be ready for 3 hrs of climb, followed by decent through forest and then gradual plain walk. Total distance 9 kms.


Aa Dekhe Zaara, All set for Trek
Finally the trek started at 8.30 am with full on sunlight. Actually I would have hated this on any other day especially when you will be walking with 9 kg backpack on your back but today I almost welcomed the sun because I was given to understand that the previous batch had to negotiate the rains and that could be messy affair. Well as soon as we started to walk the lovely Sonmarg behind us lay in its full glory especially with the morning sunlight spreading its lovely rays.
 Trek starts with the gentle incline
The trek starts with the gentle incline , with amazing view all around that I could hardly keep my fingers away from my camera. Waise bhi me and my camera are inseparable
Amazing Views

Amazing Views

Its a common experience that whenever you start trek you are bumbling with energy , Always ready to give a pose perhaps I too was charged up so Ek pose toh banta hai bhai





Abhi pose maar ke hua nahi tha that I realised that the climb won't be so easy after all , what with the blazing sun above. Kashmir aur garmi, Hota hai Jaani , chote chote shehero me badi badi baate ho jati hai. 
Famous switch back of himalayan treks
Sweating in this sultry heat with the load of my bag and yet to keep a smiling face for the camera is a task.But like true warrior, On goes the brigade!. The first hour was through various Switch backs sometimes walking through the open meadows and some times through the tree shades.
Kabhi dhoop ,Kabhi Shade
One thing nice going for me was that due to the bus ride yesterday the ice breaking thing happened in the bus hence I now knew few guys well. Madhav and Vartika were the young couple from Pune It was there first trek and they like me was sold out for this trek due to lovely pictures. I liked the way Madhav kept encouraging Vartika to keep going.


Madhav and Vartika had good time encouraging each other 
This uphill kept going for an hour and half. Each one of us were trying to negotiate in our own way. Huffing , Panting but all the while keeping each other in good spirit. As far as I was concerned I skipped some switch back taking short cuts.
Everyone negotiating the climb in their own way
We were quite relieved when we were told that we are now near the Shekhdur camp,eaching Shekhdur means achieving an height of more than 11000 feets. Moving from 8000 feets to 11000 feets is indeed an achievement.(its a seperate matter that in mountains more than 1000 feets height gain is not recommended )  
Iconic tree just before the Shekhdur Camp


By the time we reached Shekdur , I was like Bas karo yaar , Tent idhar hi laga do,Chala ,Chala ke maar dala, Ab kya bache ki jaan loge kya , 


Bas karo Yaar, Ab bache ki jaan loge kya





Arre kambakto 3000 feet chada dala, woh bhi pahele din. Meri toh chodo I felt almost everyone crashed out. I still remember the expression on Santosh's face which seems to say kahan marwa diya. He just covered his face with the cap and went for a nap 


Vartika and Madhav too seemed like koi yaaro humko uthao. Seeing them like this ek khayal mere dil me aaya, Bacha Madhav tu toh mara Shaadi ki pehli anniversary aur tuh wife ko picnic bolkar trek per le aaya, Upar se chala chala ke torture kar raha hai. Later discussing this me and Vartika had good laugh.


Vartika and me sharing some lighter moments at Shekdur
We all rested here for sometime. In fact there is this small shop where one can have snacks like instant noodles, Buscuits, Cold drink and tea. Amit and santosh had noodles and ordered for tea. I remember talking to someone here , the person asked me "Chai kaisi hai", I said "Ok, Kuch Khaas nahi " he asked me"kitne ki hai " I said " 30 Rs" he said 30 Rs, Baap re
Meri shaitani Khopdi me phir ek khayal aaya and in the tradition of Om shanti om 
" Ek chutki sindoor ki kimat tum kya jano , Ramesh Babu ..
Mera dialogue tha "Ek chuski chai ki kimat in Pahado me tum kya  jano Ramesh Babu.
View of Shekdur
After enjoying the Tea and Rest It was again time to push ourselves forward.Believe me it takes lots of effort to start all over again. However luckily for us the trek was more of a gentle walk passing through the forest.The view of the forest was so romantic with sun playing hide and seek creating the aura of shadow and light.
Gentle incline towards the forest after Shekdur 
Shepherd homes en-route
Walk through the forest
Sunlight playing hide and seek
This walk through the forest was not only pleasant but also helped us to be protected from the tough Sun. What I liked about this part of the trek was that as soon as you come out of the forest trek you are staring at one of the most amazing view of mountain pass. For me it was indeed a dramatic moment and I almost cried out Wow !
This was a wow moment for me




My first experience at watching a pass
That was the view when I looked back
I am told that this is the start of Nichanai Pass.The moment we enter the valley we see small stream coming down it, At the far end where you see mountain peak well, that's where we have to go.
Valley View
but beware what looked like a small stream turns out to be big river kind of thing once you come closer.

 We all rested here and decided to have our lunch here,( we were given packed lunch of Roti and Aloo bhaji). River offered us a good opportunity to freshen up and feel rejuvenated .
Time to recharge our cells
The trek from here onwards in along this river , however one has to encountered small boulders and uneven rocky section. 


Walking along the river on rocky trail
 But once we cross this section the next scene is something I was waiting for, Yes Yo !! I see the first patch of Snow. Dil bole Zoom Zoom !!!
Yo ! Its s(h)nowtime now
My heart knew no joy when I saw the snow, First day into the trek and we are hitting snow patch.Wow ! Wow ! I am loving every moment of this trek.As I was prancing and dancing in the snow I heard Amit call out from top teasing me  "Aashish Bolo aur kitna snow chaiye , Aur chaiye toh bolo " and I was all like Thanks Amit for pushing me into this trek.

I simply love walking on the snow.
Snow bridge
Another thing I loved about this trek was the ever changing scenery, Hardly we had done with this snow patch that the route again opens up into another valley view, offering another wow moment for me and I shouted to myself "Abbe ab yeh kahan aaya gaya mai, OMG , mindblowing views hai "

Abbe yeh kahan aa gaya mai..... moment for me

By this time our feets were aching like hell, and the camp site was nowhere to be seen, over that not much help was coming through from Suman as regards to balance distance that we have to travel. Humari dukhti tango ke majje le raha hai aisa laga, Arre yaar ab bata de aur kitna chalna hai. Finally he said we are almost there, now that was a big relief and after walking for few more minutes I was happy to see the orange tents aur dil bola thank god aaj ke liye bach gaye.
At last'........Nichanai Camp site 
Campsites are like Oasis in the desert, Just when the body is all ready to give away the only sight that can save it is the view of campsite on the horizon. 





Nichnai camp site is again very pictureque, enveloped within mountains, with one side staring at the valley and usual river flowing along  


As soon as we reached Nachnai Camp, I ensured that we had a good round of stretching,Amit,Santosh, Rupinderji,and her 2 daughters, Rajesh,chinmay all joined in and it was fun. However the best part here was the circular massaging that we did with each one sitting behind the other and massaging the shoulder of the person ahead.Here a funny incident happened, as my shoulder was paining a lot due to the weight of the bag pack so Santosh was giving me shoulder massage, The pleasure of massage was so good that I was moaning in ecstasy without realising the same and the next moment I heard Santosh admonishing me  " Oye Dirty Picture style sound effect bund kar, Public dekhegi toh kya sochegi " I thought "kya sochagi, bolgi Shantaben"(Refer to Kal ho na ho movie agar nahi samja)
Evening shoot of Nichanai
It was late evening and Suman had called for the demo of  Installing and dismantling the tent. I was never a good student so deputed this part to Santosh. Jo jyada bolte hai woh akshar kum sunte hai , mera bhi kuch aisa case hai. Just as a true back bencher jo apni study books me comic rakh ke padta hai Me and Amit were busy capturing the beauty of the camp site
Beauty all around
It was a hard day for us today, 7 hrs climb , 3000 feet height gain, AMS ka pura chance, with these thoughts I retired to my tent for sleep.For me the night spent on this campsite was the longest as I was not able to sleep at all. All night I was wondering whether is it the altitude factor or whether is it due to exhaustion that I am unable to sleep. The moment I close my eyes I could see the mountains , rivers,snow floating around me. Amit was also not able to sleep so we decided to venture out in the open. Kuch nature call aur kuch nature walk aisa program bana, Santosh ko pucha toh woh bola pagal hai kya so jao, I think this night out in the open was sheer bliss, silence surrounding you except the gurgling sound of the river, silver-lined mountains under the canopy of stars , Oh what a sight to behold !
Starry Nights at Nichanai Campsite

Amit who knows little bit of stars explained to me , we had a brief chat out in the open, amit and me don't often meet or trek together but I have seen that our chemistry works, what I like about him his co-operative nature, sometimes I feel blessed to have him my tent mate,( I hope Amit yeh padkar bole nahi abbe ab rulayaga ka ), Honestly I enjoyed this night under the stars  and soon retired back to the tent knowing very well that tomorrow another challenging day awaits us.
Kal ki kal dekhte hai, Chalo Aaj ke liye
Good Night !!


In case if you missed on Day 1 given below is the link

Kashmir Great Lakes :Day 1



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