And Then We Were Done! - The Great Himalayan Expedition-8
I was excited that the long tiring trek was finally coming to an end. I woke up really early and packed my bag one last time all set to leave. For a change i was amongst the first few people to start off the descent. Yeah the enthusiasm kicked as as i could get back and sleep till satisfied. probably a 6 hour trek for the day and we would reach Prini Basecamp.
We had a small surprise awaiting us.
#1 : The Trek leader announced that a part of our journey back would be by car/bus and we didn't have to trek the whole way. Couldn't get happier, i rushed to start off the journey back with the same joy!
#2 : Chole bhature for breakfast!!
a double dhamaka for the day and i was elated! My taste buds and appetite were dead due to plain spiceless foods to prevent the gut. I gorged on the chole bhatures and started off being Dora the explorer.
It was a very eye soothing journey downhill filled with a lot of greenery. Walking amidst fields and forest listening to your footsteps clearing the area brings about a different kind of a calm to the soul. It was long yet peaceful. We sang songs through the entire journey and felt the bonding of a family within 7 days of time spent. As we started to reach the villages, we bumped into a lot of locals who were harvesting their produce. A long much deserved rest, the interaction left a fond memory in my mind. We laughed, danced and sang our hearts out. They taught us their local Pahadi dance and our main trek leaders having lived there tagged along and showed us a few steps with their traditional song. I guess we spent an hour relaxing and basking in the sun and clicked a lot of photographs leaving a trail of fond memories behind.
We continued to walk and walk until we reached the huge fleet of stairs ( the same ones we climbed on day 1 of our trek) and met children running to their school. Everyday is a LEG DAY for these kids and no wonder they can climb stairs at such high speed while we pant for breath. Lesson learnt : Never skip leg day and train harder for those strong legs! :P
I could finally hear the movement of vehicles and the momentum to walk soon picked up, but my legs felt like jelly doing a penguin walk. I was indeed tired and the chole bhature had been completely absorbed into the system leaving me famished.
We reached the road and 2 buses stopped to let our people in. We rushed to grab a seat and that's the last i remember before slipping into a deep slumber. Someone woke me up and said it was time to get off. We had reached the Bhanu Bridge and yet 45 more mins of hiking to reach the camp. I cursed my life and pushed through to just make it to the campsite. I felt like betaal was sitting on my shoulder and someone was holding the back of my collar separating my body from the soul. That was the range of exhaustion. The hike from Bhanu bridge was uphill through berry plantations and i luckily ate a few to instantly boost my energy. Finally we reached the camp and i ran into a tent to collapse on the sleeping bag. It was 15:00 PM. The mules arrived with our rucksacks which meant the 7 day jinx of no shower could finally be broken!
We took our rucksacks and bid adieu to the team and headed towards the resort back again, but this time a bigger suite with better views. I picked the bed right next to the window to recollect my entire journey and fell asleep for 3 longs hours.
As the night set in, we had 2 more families who decided to stay in the resort with us and all of us got ready to hit the mall road to bring our taste buds alive. We went crazy over the garma garam samosa, kachori and all kinds of chats. I had missed Dahi the most during my entire trek and i couldn't be happier to have had dahi papdi! Why just be a bhukkad when you can be a shopaholic too! I shopped in the mall road which is a pure bliss for shopaholics. When in manali do hit the mall road for mouthwatering chats and clothes at unbelievable prices! Shop till you drop and eat till you can have no more.
Before the temperatures could drop even more and turn all of us into ice dragons, we headed back to the resort for the much deserved sleep of our lives. Digging deep into the bed with 3 comforters on, i slept looking at the mountains shine at a distance with the stars and a gleaming moon.
The next day was a spare day till evening as our bus tickets were booked for an overnight journey to chandigarh. We ate our aloo parathas loaded with butter and pickle floating in the thick set dahi. It's the best trust me!! We headed back to the mall road again for more shopping and later planned for a few adventure activities - rafting and parasailing at solang valley. the weather was unsuitable for parasailing and Solang was a fail. We went ahead to do the rafting which was a bigger fail. There were hardly any rapids in Kullu and since of the members onboard were wet, the person in charge of rowing took us to shallow waters and splashed water. How could you...Just how could you!! what a fail, my first rafting experience turned out to be so Meh.
We had lunch on our way to the resort and were all set for the overnight journey. One last glimpse of the mountains and the beautiful sunset which took over the place transforming it into a set like never seen before, I boarded the bus for the journey back home.
18 Hungry - tiring hours + a delayed flight later..
A whole new level of life changing experiences made a different person with zero expectations. I guess that was the beginning of my Zen mode! The appetite loss continued for months together at home for both mom and me. We deeply missed the mountains and the fresh air. Even today, the trek is fresh on our minds with every single detail and gives up goosebumps on thinking about the long night.