Winter Trek in Dalhousie. Part Two — Acclimatization and Day 1 of the Trek
So here I was, reporting to the Youth hostel, Dalhousie, to a warm welcome by Parul Ma’am. I was so happy and excited to see her that I ran to her and removed my monkey cap. I never expected a familiar face in the hills, 3000 kilometers from home. Parul Ma’am was the co-director of the Sar pass trek in 2013, and she recognized me the moment I removed my monkey cap. Of course bald heads are not that easy to forget ;-) She made me keep the bag and reporting slip aside and told me all that shall be done only after I have my soup. One awesome thing about YHAI — The camp crew is caring, friendly, awesome, and strict :D
After soup and the procedures, it was meeting new people, dinner, socializing a bit again, and then, bonfire without fire :D Burning wood in Himachal is illegal so….
Had some entertainment programs during the bonfire, with jokes, sher’o’shayari, songs and what not. Even I sang. Poor audience :D And then it was cold as usual and time for bed. Everyone was allotted sleeping bags but since there was a blanket and since I was too lazy to get into the sleeping bag, I didn’t use it. BAD IDEA!! One advice — If you have a sleeping bag, use it, unless you want to keep waking up in the middle of the night because of the cold.
Morning 6 we were supposed to go for exercise to Subhash Chowk, and we managed to make a move by 6.10. The view from there was breathtaking, with mountains and a cloud covered valley below us. We were on top of the world. Not literally. But still… :D
Back to the basecamp after exercise, breakfast, and out we are to give send off to the batch starting their trek today. After that we move for our acclimatization walk, through ice covered roads, to our first encounter with snow and beautiful scenery :)
After the walk, we were given a little time at the Bazaar to do last minute necessary items shopping, and then it was Lunch time. After lunch, we had an orientation session, detailing the dos and don’ts for the trek. Next was tea, some free time, soup and dinner time. Even though veg, the food was always great. Now it was time for our group to host the bonfire, and Anu came up with an idea of a philosophical question of “why we are here?” followed by an awesome DJ party. It was 3 degrees outside but I had sweat on my bald head by the end of it because of the dancing :D
A fun day with good friends ends there. Trek through snow starts the next day. We all went to bed super excited, of course trying to imagine that the snoring competition happening around us was a peaceful lullaby and even adding our tunes to it. But then, even imagination has its limits :D
The D day started with people too lazy to wake up early in the morning, some trying hard to release their pressure (that is always an important part of a trekker’s day :D ), and others packing their bags. We set off for the trek after breakfast and packing our lunch from the basecamp, initially walking through roads without ice or snow, and then through roads completely covered with ice (not snow) making it extremely slippery and dangerous.
Soon it was tea point. Any fan of tea would know the beauty of having a hot tea in a cold place ;) of course there was tasty maggi and omelettes too. Best things to have at the mountains :D
After tea and a little bit of walking, it was off-roading time :D
And after a bit of trekking and a lot of jokes and laughing, it was lunch point at Lakadmandi. The wrath of a good snowfall was visible there. Beautiful, but maybe a little scary too.
Kalatop, the next camp, was 3 kilometers from Lakkadmandi and it was trekking on 2–4 feet of snow from there through snow covered pine forests. Till lunch we were a little apprehensive and scared about getting snow inside our shoes and getting our shoes wet, but now it was super fun time. Walking through snow and not the cut out path, throwing snowballs at each other, and at one point, launching guerrilla attacks with snow on trekkers who were coming behind, by hiding on top of a small hill. Some things have to be experienced. Though it was just fun stuff, hiding, planning and launching a guerrilla attack is just way too much fun ;-)
Soon we were at Kalatop, to find an undisturbed pool of fresh snow, and the snow fights began. In the picture we have Richa trying to set the ground rules straight for a fair snowfight, but getting attacked by others during the same. Of course I realized there should’ve been some rules when I got hit on the face and it hurt badly. Sadly a few others also had the same experience and soon everyone agreed to not throwing snowballs on the head.
After the snow games were over, we were welcomed with hot tea and soup, and after witnessing an amazing sunset (which none of our cameras could capture properly), we had a little fun and singing at the canteen, and then off to sleep at the camp. Of course the building was creaky and looked bad but I was happy that it was a brick and mortar structure as in all my previous treks, we had only tents. A view of the accommodation we got
Of course girls and elders got a better cottage. But then most of us were happy with this. Who cares about the condition of walls and roof when there are awesome friends around ;-) Some played bluff, others stared into their phones, and soon we all were happily sleeping inside our sleeping bags, while the temperature outside dropped to minus 5.
Already too many pictures and too long so the rest in the next post, along with an intro about my co-trekkers :-)
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Peace, and happy travelling ;-)