Narrated by Akshay
We tried to sleep but I couldn’t sleep properly. I wasn’t used to sleeping in a sleeping bag and had only tried it once before in 2013 for the same trek. Saurav did help me get into the bag, but every time I would turn sideways the zip would open up and I would start feeling cold. Every time I would get up and wish that morning would come soon and we would be on our way. Finally the night was over and we got up around 7am shivering inside the tent, waiting for the rays of the sun to hit our tent. That’s when I realized that there are so many things that we just take for granted without which life couldn’t go on or be very difficult to survive.
We got out of our tents as soon as the first rays of sun hit our tents. It was approximately 7:30am and we decided to pack up our things and leave in an hour. We took turns getting fresh and managing our bodily functions. There is something about cold water hitting your face early in the morning. You don’t really need that coffee cup when something that refreshing hits you first thing in the morning. We finally finished packing and kept Shambhu’s blanket in his tent, he had already left to tend to his sheep’s. We started our walk around 8:40am. The initial plan for today was to camp at Balu ka Ghera, but since we were already ahead of our original plan, we were hoping to cover Hampta pass today itself and reach the camping place Sheagoru.
Our next pit stop was Balu ka Ghera. We had just started walking and we met a shepherd on our way. We asked him how much time it would take for us to reach Balu ka Ghera and he said it should take us approximately 2 hours. With that bit of information in our hands we started walking towards Balu Ka Ghera. The walk to Balu ka Ghera was not too difficult or different from the walk covered yesterday; there were plains, and huge rocks which I felt were the most difficult because a lot of energy went in just climbing up and down and with that weight on our backs, gravity was very effective in doing its job. After walking for approximately 2 hours, we saw a tent in the camp site and realized that we have reached Balu Ka Ghera. We decided to take a long break (15-20) mins and freshened up. Yesterday while walking my leg were cramping up often, so today had I decided to drink a lot of water to avoid the same problem.
After resting, we started our way towards Hampta Pass. The walk for first 30-45 mins is relatively easy as we were walking over plains and you could see various birds around. This was the perfect moment for doing photography and I was missing my DSLR. However, the experience with carrying it last time made me not get it this time. The plains are formed by the river and there were some points where we had to actually jump in the water to cross. However, the water was just a passing stream and other than wetting our shoes it didn’t do much. Once you have crossed the plains, comes the uphill climb which is full of rocks and boulders and it is easy to lose the trail amongst those stones. Before we reached the place to begin our uphill climb, Saurav spotted some trekkers ahead of us. I guess the uphill climb must have slowed them down, because we were with them in no time.
They were 3 Trekkers (2 guys and 1 girl). They were from Kolkata and this was their first time on this trek. The boys had completed various other treks but this was the first trek for the girl and she was definitely slower amongst the three of them. They had with them 2 porters who were also acting as cooks and guides. We met them and spoke with them for a few minutes and then they decided to move ahead, while we decided to rest for a few mins more. We could see that they had difficulty moving across the boulders and rocks, but there isn’t much you can do except steer them on the right path. They have to do the walking. After our break, we pretty much walked right ahead of them and kept climbing up. The more we climbed, the more tired we started to feel. I don’t know about Saurav but I was starting to get exhausted pretty quickly. I guess it was the altitude and the lack of oxygen, our body had not acclimatized to these conditions yet. We started to take more breaks and during one of those breaks we met this dog named Laloo. He was watching us from above and was with a shepherd group. He came down and started sniffing around us. We decided to give him a pack of our biscuits and he just ate everything. He was very hungry and finished another packet too. We had to shoo him away just to start moving ahead. As soon as we moved ahead, we met the shepherd and we asked him how far was Hampta Pass. As per him we were at least a couple of hours away. It was approximately 2pm when we met him. He asked if we had more biscuits and we shared one more packet with him. That’s when Saurav decided to feed the other dog who was standing next to the Shepherd. By this time Laloo had also come up, so Saurav was feeding both of them. While he was feeding the dogs, a black sheep also came near to be part of the feast. Saurav was not sure he could feed biscuits to the sheep, but the shepherd said it was ok, so he decided to feed the sheep too. It was just hilarious.
After feeding the animals, we decided to move ahead and started walking towards Hampta. We had reached an area of flat land when Saurav asked me if we should tent here for tonight. It was around 3pm. The top of the mountain was easily another 2 to 3 hours away and then walk down in the dark wasn’t something that we wanted to do. Also we were getting tired very quickly and this was probably our bodies’ way of saying stop here and get used to the air. We decided to stop there for the night. We found ourselves a nice spot and set up the tent.
45 mins later after we had set up the tent, the porters from the trekking group showed up and started to set up their tents near our tents. Like yesterday, we decided to ask them if they had any extra food and we could pay them. Once again, we got lucky and the porters said they have food and we can pay them whatever we feel like. They asked us if we wanted to have the dal khichdi which they had made in the morning today. We gladly accepted the offer and had the food. After another 45 minutes or so the Trekkers showed up. They looked completely exhausted. The porters had now turned into cooks and gave us tea. We were also served soup after some time and this was turning out to be a feast for us. We started talking with the Trekkers and learnt about them. Saurav took some time out for himself and sat on one boulder lost in his own world; admiring the beauty of the mountains. Soon the light started fading away and with it the temperatures started dipping.
Tonight was going to be the most difficult night as the temperature was expected to drop to anywhere between 0 to 4 degrees. We covered ourselves with whatever little additional clothing we had brought along with us and went to the other tent where the porters were making food for everyone. The burning gas stove kept us warm. Tonight it was rice, dal and potato sabzi. We started talking with them and like yesterday shared whatever little rum we had with them. We were really thanking our stars for the hot food on such a cold night. After eating food, it was time to deal with the most difficult part of the trek – sleep. It was really cold that night and somehow we managed to get some sleep. Every couple of hours I would wake up only to find that it was getting colder. We were desperately waiting for the morning to come.
Images for Day 3 can be found here