The Journey so far-
Day 3 – June 05, 2009 | Battal to Chandratal to Battal
This was supposed to be the D-Day. We woke up around 8.00 AM and I immediately knew it was late. We had some breakfast and got packed for the first ever trek. While going ahead we went to the 16 people group and asked few guyz over there about their experience of the yesterday and boom they were like, it was awesome. We asked did you see chandratal and they said no possibility and asked us that if we are planning to trek there and again this time with low spirit we said “Yes”. They were like, try the kunzum yaar, we had great fun there. Then one of them asked if we have come for chandratal only and our reply again was instant “Yes.” He asked us to go ahead and try it out at least, as there’s no problems in coming back from the middle rather not at all attempting it. Then I said enough, we let’z go now. No more feedback, Let’z see what’s in the store over there.
Till now we were like huuhhh…there is nothing, just worry about the 14 KM that we need to walk rest all is a bare road only. Everyone was making us feel scared. But, one of the blind curves had a surprise for us. Road was all covered with snow and what more, the slope of the snow was such that it kisses the bank of the river. Surely, it will be a RS 1000 slide in a water / amusement park. That was scary, we were seeing snow for the first in life in this trip and with so many slips every time we walked on the snow yesterday, this surely would be an invitation to devil’s god. Lack of stick or any kind of hold was surely a killer. Our guide said I will mark the route footsteps and you just follow them only. So we said OK, it will be great. To be very frank each one of us was scared, due to the dramatization of the feedbacks as well as difficulties we had yesterday walking on the snow without slip and considering if it was first then what about the rest 12 KMs. Saying prayers we moved.
This is what it looked like [following picture], although not very clear but I tried to take a picture of what’s there on the back side me, while crossing that slope of snow. Then I stood in the middle and balanced to look down at the river [couldn’t take out the camera this time, as I had to be careful]. Believe me, it was the greatest thing I have ever felt, facing and standing on an unstable slope which can ditch your feet anytime, giving you last and the longest slide of your life. You can easily feel the water gushing beneath your feet as the snow was melting. Danger with difficulty, deadly couple.
Then there came another two slopes which we did with a little more confidence than first one. But first was the longest among three and second half was quite unstable. But we were glad we did it. This was adventure at its best. Not to forget my great frend almost fell everytime he walked on the slope and one time it was like I had everything in my mouth when he tried to fall onto the guide and away from the slope and trying to win a slide for both of them. Cool guy likes to play with danger. He was perhaps seeing how much our guide has to save us all. LOL , I am just kidding 😀 :D, fatti thi sabki. My youngest cousin was the best of the lot he did as if he is a pro. 🙂 And the one who was elder he was the most scared and nawab of us. It took both guides to let him cross the slopes, one holding from the front and one from the back. I took a sigh of relief to see him cross safely. We moved ahead towards the chandra taal, and we knew it that this road ahead we will be witnessing more and more of these kind of slopes. Keep watching.
As we moved ahead there was water gushing out and flowing on the pathway…it looked beautiful. Due to thirst our eyes lit up and we drank water from it. The coolest thing everyone remembered to keep the bottle of VODKA but none bothered to keep a bottle to drink some water ;)… see such boozers and none of us drink too much.
After having a drink we resumed the trek and 1 KM after, we saw a series of snow slopes distant 100Mts approx. from each other covering next 1.5-2 KMs of road…uff more struggle… this was enough for my Nawab cousin to quit and it was obvious that he can’t be left alone. So, the youngest one [pro ;)]also halted his trek. They said they will wait for us to come back and get them through the previous hiccups. I, my friend, and two guides moved ahead. Meanwhile I learnt the technique to cross the slopes, how to move up the slope and then how to place the feet to come down. “LEARNING OF THE DECADE 😀 😀 :D” It was great to learn the trick and I moved freely on the slopes now, it became a joy. Just I had to bit careful. Deep inside me I was like “You idiot, why dint you do it before”. Now it was my friend who was also taking on the trick slowly and steadily. It helped us move fast and pace to pace our guides. Half way through and we were tired and weary now. But the last hills were the target behind which was the chandratal. You can see in the following pic the hills just after the one having shade, i.e. last hills which has sun.
After enjoying and crossing few more slopes we can see that rest of the pathway was just barren land of stones and few small pieces of snow to be found in hay-way manner. So it seemed to be easy piece of cake what we have just crossed. Deep inside us we had the feeling that of course we will see the chandratal now.
Then we were getting exhausted and exhausted and more exhausted. Think it was too far than it appeared first. Lack of food (although we had food) and water was making signs of its toll on us. FATIGUE was all over us. Then finally we can see the wholly coveted piece of water after rushing more than 700 KMs from home the “chandratal”. This was a great source of motivation; suddenly we had energy and spark to become the first. And visit its bank and have lunch over there. Dreams were helping to build the castles in the air. 😀
But, there were some HIDDEN OMENS which we missed while getting carried away. After contemplating the picture I thought how I could have missed it, I think it was desire to see it, seriously dun know why :(. I think it was sheer madness. It was just about 2 KMs now.
VOILA!!! MY KNEES TOUCHES WATER… water running through this “NALA” [stream]was deep enough to touch our knees in the first half. As soon as the water entered the shoes and lower half of the body went almost drenched into the water, it sent a cold chill through my body. I was stunned into cold with that icy water. After coming out from it was 2.15 P.M.; suddenly things around us started changing rapidly. Now it’s 1.5 KM more and we will reach the destination. But taking one step further looked impossible with walking parts of the body drenched in water. My shoes got filled with water; first we removed the wet socks and emptied the water from the shoes. Emptying water from shoes was of no use as quickly it gets filled from the wet lower part of the body clothes. Oh god what problem now, this was making walking up hill extremely difficult and almost impossible for me at least. My friend did sustain a bit but he was having trouble too. We still tried to reach, again don’t know why. I think it was so close we had reached that I thought all would be a waste, let’s give more hard and with some will power we moved ahead further.
Dark clouds were all over the place by now and haze, fog started to drip in more and more. In a matter of minutes it was totally dark. We reached the base of the last hill struggling through our wet body in extremely cold conditions. It was toughest test I had ever put my body through. Conditions were getting more extreme and more adverse. Now there was no path left, remember the board, 13.5 km drivable I think this where the road ends. Now we had to climb the last part of the hill around 0.5 km to 0.75 kms to visit the banks. [Here, Climb means there was no path]. You can figure out from the picture where the road ends and part we had to climb and then de-climb [don’t know the opposite ;)] to reach the banks.
I tried to start but none of the body parts were with me now it took almost 35 min to walk just 1 KM. This difficult it became, I couldn’t take a step further now and cold was haunting us more and more…. We saw the time and it was 2.50 PM and I decided not to go ahead further, so did my friend… 🙁 🙁 🙁 It looked almost impossible to find a way and reach the top even with the condition of the body and the weather too. Our guide said you move ahead and cross that first “NALA” [Turning Point] and get something to eat; meanwhile he will reach the top and get some photographs of the Chandratal. We reached the “NALA” this time a bit faster as we were short of time. It was 3.10 we reached the place, sat down and started eating. Anything I eat gets puked out, more trouble. Thanks god there was water around. Then, to my savior there was one MANGO which I tried to eat and that didn’t come out thankfully. To worsen the situation snowfall started. Sitting there and contemplating the situation we found… Troublesome…. 1) Darkness would fall, walk back 13 KMs in around 2.30 Hrs. [6 Hrs to we took for the same] 2) Cross “Nala” again and get drenched again [CHILLING WAVE, even thinking of it] 3) Wet body, wet shoes, wet clothes, shivering and what more 🙂 4) Extremely chilling wind…it had the thrust and made walking more difficult 5) Snowfall which started to be slow suddenly increased the tempo, and snow getting into you from all over. It was like 360 degree snowfall. 6) Only mango was in the lunch. 7) Stranded 2 cousins in the middle of now where Now we are talking right. :D. What appeared to be fairy tale adventure, suddenly turned into the NIGHTMARE of lifetime. I asked the bottle of vodka had 2-3 gulps of it and decided to move back to battal. Meanwhile my brave friend was enjoying his food. [Yahan lagi thi, aur sala swaad le raha tha wahan khane ka]. Cold was penetrating the bones to the extreme.
RACE TO SURVIVAL begins… I decided that we will only stop after finding the cousins. Frankly speaking, I literary had tears in my eyes and I started to recall my past and pray for all the sins I committed 😀 😀 😀 . Being optimistic I thought it would just be the punishment for all the sins of the past to start afresh and new with count zero. 😉 😉 🙂 As we were on the way the guide who went to take the pictures caught us, thanks to his tremendous speed even in such odd conditions and bad weather.
Snowfall was getting heavier and heavier, after non-stop walking, rather tumbling here and there, falling on ground, hungry, for so long and using vodka as a medicine to make us walk, we finally reached the place where we left my cousins. There on a huge patch on snow they wrote “HUM GAYE!” [We went back!] Shocking…shocking…a series of emotions and thought ran through my body, mind, soul etc…. oh god what a test!!! Now where the f*** they went….they had to use 4 helping hands in addition to their 2 to cross those snow slopes I the morning when conditions were too much favorable. Punishment was becoming more and more tenacious now. Had sip again and we walked ahead. It was only after half-km both of my cousin’s were there and they saw us and in elation they shouted (aa gaye saale, bach gaye!!!). “MOMENT OF TRUTH” — YOU IDENTIFY LOVE FOR SOMEONE ONLY WHEN YOU FEEL HE/SHE WILL BE LOST FROM YOUR SIDE” Seeing them was great sigh of relief but still we were not safe at all. It was about to get dark and we had to still cross 3 more slopes and amount of intensify snowfall had increased the snow covering at places, if not; it appeared so due to mental state. “MOMENT OF ESCAPE’ By that time I was unable to walk in a straight line. I think wet skin was getting peeled off in the shoes and I was drunk as well.
But there was no alternative with you all wet and that much cold, only way to beat the cold was drink one sip and move for half an hour. Now in such situation when I tried to cross the second last slope, the FOOT SLIPPED and I was LYING DOWN on the snow, ready for the slide into the river and SHORTCUT TO HELL. The thing holding me was my arm which was held firmly by the pro guide, while I was facing a probable death. My eyes had a quick flash back of my past and I thought this is it. May be it was vodka and fatigue, deadly combo again. But, our guide digs his foot into the snow and asked me to cross leg, with some effort and will to survive I did exactly what he asked me to do and steadily and safely he let me cross that slope. “THE LAST SPRINT” We finally crossed the last one as well and REACHED THE SAFER PART. Now we had the confidence that now by any means we should survive but not to forget the wet clothes and wet body and shivering in that cold could easily be a killer. It was about 2.5 kms from there and was all roads, so not much trouble. Also one of the guides had left us way back to get the car as soon as we reach the plains so that we need to walk a bit less. It was about 1.5 kms when we saw our sumo coming up and picked us and dropped near the base camp. 6.30 was exact time we reached the base. What we did in 6 hours I the morning, it took around 3 when we had our lives on the line 😉 😉 ;)..see what you can do in extreme…
Reaching the camp was not enough we had to get warm; down the camp side my eldest cousin was waiting for us CRYING ALL OVER THE PLACE Luckily the dhabha at battal was setup by that day and locales came to his rescue. My cousin had arranged asked the locales to help him out finding 4 crazy piece of a*******. We did get the message from one of the PWD trucks that your cousin has gone mad crying down there and asked us to move fast. He greeted us with some useful day to day helping verbs. (LOL, at least now, but it was not so funny at that time)… Luckily dhabha had the shelter as well as food and the most DESIRED FIRE IN COLD. Locales helped us get warm with GLASS FULL OF RUM, which all of them were having. we remove our clothes and my brother had arranged everything we might need in such urgency. Dry clothes, socks, sleepers, food, and rum, hot water everything I was imagining while fighting for the survival. After getting dried up, they arranged rajaayees and bistar [quiltsand mattresses] to give us warmth and control the shivering bodies. Still couldn’t eat and again puked as soon as I ate something. But, all I wanted was heat and warmth to fight the cold. I took the quilts and went to sleep and at midnight I woke up asked my cousin something to eat. He gave me a chocolate and finally something went in and I opened my eyes only to see I AM ALIVE, STILL Others were sleeping peacefully and soon after we followed.
Next day we did click a lot of pics on the way back and it was the longest i have traveled without much of a break, apart from the JAMs ;)… so keep watching….infact two of the best three pic [IMHO ;)] of the lot from the next day….
The Journey ahead-