The Walk in Wilderness that Required Will Power
September 2, 2014 Tuesday
The Tuesday posed a tough challenge, climbing more than 1,500 meters while walking the 16-kilometer long trail connecting Pathar Nachauniya and Shila Samudra. But the high altitude trail had side attractions that provided perfect escape opportunities for fear (if any) and enough time for pilgrims to rest, rejoice, and proceed safely.
The first attraction was one-wall temple. The wall of stones without any mortar had a recess for the deity that was also represented by a shapeless stone. But the priest was a full grown man and real. The temple seemed to be assembled in a hurry for the event.
The next attraction was the Kalwa Vinayak temple wrapped up in mist. But angry arguments between two village folks about who had the privilege to carry the palanquin of the patron goddess heated the atmosphere. This temple was also just a wall with a bigger recess. But this recess had reasonably well sculpted black stone idol of Ganesh. And there were bells.
The trail snaked through scantily covered rocky slopes and creepy cliffs before stopping for food at Bhaguwasa. The staff of Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM) prepared halwa puri, the rich traditional North Indian meals generally relished on special occasions. The free meals provided a burst of energy to many pilgrims.
But the pilgrims brimming with energy forgot that the uninhabited mountains do not allow anybody to export anything except the experiences. The mountains are so vigilant that they can turn the good experiences into scary ones without caution. But the stubborn visitors again and again rob the mountains of their treasures. Like many NRJ pilgrims did with delicate bramh kamals. The collected flowers, considered as auspicious, became a soggy mass soon. Some of the pilgrims simply threw those on the trail. Then why did they pluck at first place? Was plucking the flower an experience worth exporting?
The NIM energy food let everyone play an explorer at Roopkund, the home to famous skeletons that have made headlines on several occasions. The pilgrims rushed to the pond to have a glimpse and picture of the skeletons. Nevertheless I did not find any of them inside the pond because mist wanted to cover the treasure. There were a few bones nearby.
The mountains continued to play hide and seek with mist until we descended on the other side of the Juragali where again NIM showed its generosity and mountain expertise. But the mist and its other weather friends made the trek joyful and adventurous at the same time. The willing trekkers roped in the will power to walk through the odds. And tried to follow the rhythm of the nature.
The descent to Shila Samundra, the sea of rocks strewn with glacial moraines, was not a cake walk but was a joyful experience. There were a few slips and falls that triggered a train of childlike giggles.
If the day was enveloped in the mist that tried to add mystery to the trail, the night was enveloped in the mist of mismanagement by my travel agent and his staff. Indifferent porters in the absence of their boss were worried only about their personal needs. They just threw the tents somewhere in Shila Samundra and disappeared. The ground on which the tent was somehow propped up was a piece of closely packed short crests and valleys in which my body parts tried to fit in vain for the whole night. The wet sleeping bag was of no use. I could not use it for padding the valleys either. Absence of toilet tent forced an abstinence.
The day trail that was projected as a bogey was very simpler than that night. But the darkness had to die before I could look for another camping spot or start the trek to the next important destination of the pilgrimage. Dependence costed me dearly. The night was longer than the longest day of the trek. But the passion pushed me to continue and complete what I started with loads of enthusiasm.
Here are 30+ visuals from the trail that showcased the Himalayan wilderness on the 17th day of Nanda Raj Jat 2014.