15th August 2012
It was Independence Day. But the trekking group will also remember
that day for a different reason!!
When I came out of the tent at 5AM, the scenery outside
stunned me. The mountains covered by clouds provided a beautiful backdrop
across the stream. It had rained heavily during night stopping just before the
daybreak. According to organizers, the
days trekking would be long and difficult. Rightly so as we would be crossing
Gadsar pass at the height of 13,750 feet highest point of the entire trek. The
rains would make trekking even more difficult.
Things were not so rosy when we started our trek. The gloomy
weather appeared to play spoilsport of our plans. By the time we reached Vishansar
Lake, it had started to drizzle. From Vishansar, a steep climb of about 500ft
brought us to Kishansar. The drizzle had
by then turned into downpour. It was a
pity that we could not enjoy the beautiful Kishansar Lake. We had to wait for a
while for other to catch us before proceeding further. A few shots are fired from my camera from the
shelter of Altaf’s umbrella.
As streams were abundant in the trail, we had made a habit
of carrying very little water. But at Kishansar Lake our guide Altaf tells that
the next source of water would be found after we cross the pass. To reach the
water in the lake we had to take a deviation of about a km which most of us
hated to do. An irony that we face paucity of drinking water when it is raining
heavily!! Only Sachin goes to the lake to fetch water. I hope that my water
reserves can be sustained till Gadsar pass.
The path to Gadsar pass went right next to Vishansar Lake
climbing up several hills and disappearing at the shoulder of a hill. It was
In general there was nothing for me to worry about the
rains. Armed with raincoats and bag covers, there was no chance of being wet. But
it was the nature that we need to tackle. Troubles started as we started
climbing Gadsar. The path to Gadsar was steep and narrow. On one side was a
steep drop to Kishansar and the path was just wide enough to keep our two legs
together. The worst part was that it was muddy and slippery.
I and Naveen were at the leading the group. I suddenly slip
and fall down. I scramble to hold on to the grass and somehow come back to the
path. I find myself not able to control
the walk. Put one step and my legs start to slide. It would not be an issue on
normal roads but here was the steep drop to lake where we cannot afford any
wrong doings. Each step had to be taken with almost caution.
We see Aravind (not me) slipping at the same place where I
slipped. But he drops down a couple of feet and shouts for help. That was a
scary thing to watch. Altaf comes and rescues him but he slips again leading to
panic in the group. Equally alarming was when the horse carrying our tents
falls down. It survives miraculously. It was then sent back.
By now it was clear that the main path was not usable.
People started climbing wherever they can walk leading to confusion and chaos. Looking
at the situation, I felt that the day’s trek may be cancelled and we return
back to the camp at Kishansar. So I asked Naveen not to walk up. The entire group
was struggling down. We wait for 30
minutes but none of the team members come up.
Amit who is the organizer of the trek comes and asks us to move up. We
would be continuing our trek, he told.
During such times all forgotten Gods come to the mind!!
I and Naveen start to climb up further. We were slipping at
each step. It was sad that I could not take any photos of such difficult
scenes. One reason was the rains that were continuously lashing but it was my
hands completely covered with mud and slush that made me unable to use camera.
We reach a major slush point where Naveen struggles to keep
from falling. If he is finding it difficult to balance then I can never control
the fall. So, I decide not to take that path but climb up directly. It was a
steep climb of more than 70 degree slope. But at least there were some plants
which I could hold on unlike on the main trail where nothing would stop you
from falling down. I walk and crawl on all four and hold on to plants wherever
The dangerous stretch had ended. Muddy path had given way to
stony one which was easy to manage. But in all those difficult time, the nature
was still at its best. The two lakes were now visible together. That was a
scene to watch.
|Vishansar and Kishansar lake|
It was a moment of joy when we reached the top of Gadsar
pass. But it would not remain for long. Since we were at the top, there was no
escape from the winds blowing from all directions. It is not good to stay for
long pass on top of the passes. But unfortunately we had to wait for other
people as we were the first ones to reach the top. One of the horsemen asks us
not to get down as we could lose our way in the foggy weather.
With shivering cold, I sit behind a rock hoping it would
save me from wind. My fingers were stiff due to cold and I could not feel any
sensation. It was definitely not a good idea to stay there any longer. How
small we are in front of nature. Few weeks ago, I had climbed Dolma La at
19,000 ft easily thanks to nice weather. But Gadsar at 13,750 feet was proving
to be difficult to handle.
|The last stretch of the pass|
After waiting for 30 minutes, we see Subbu and Aishwarya
coming in. Our cook also joins and gives us an alu paratha. That was the best
thing to happen in that inhospitable weather. Now that the stomach is taken
care of, we start with descent. The descent from Gadsar pass starts with an icy
patch. Fortunately for us, the descent was gradual. While the path was still
slushy and slippery it was safe as we would fall on the path itself.
|Climbing down Gadsar pass|
Three lakes could be seen from Gadsar pass. The lakes appear
nearer as we start descending the pass. The first lake was called as
The second was a lake without a name!!
Finally the Gadsar Lake. It was the most beautiful lake that
we saw during the trek. What made it stand apart from the rest were the ice
parts floating on it, the glaciers and the carpet of flowers around the lake.
The walk was long and tedious. Reaching the elusive camp
seemed to be eternity. Hours and hours of walking brought us to a small army
camp. Here we had to register our name and show our ID cards. The army men were
friendly and helpful. Our camp was few
It was 4PM when we reached the camp. All we wanted was to
pitch the tents and settle down. That had to wait as the horse carrying our
tent had fallen down in Gadsar pass. In the mean time, cooks prepared hot tea
and noodles. The last batch came at 7PM.
The days trek had taken a toll on all of us. It was evident y the absence of the
evening activities like anthyakshari and mafia. But in spite of such adverse
conditions everyone had come out unscathed.