Monday, November 10, 2014

The Upper Mustang Trek - II


You can read the first part here

Homo Sapiens is certainly a most peculiar species. I am certain that most of the denizens would, if told to take time to smell the roses, say impatiently,"Well! Bring the roses to me soon so that I can smell them. I have a zillion things to do." So, it is no wonder that when the group was being split into the 'fast group' and the 'slow group', the first time trekkers were vociferously discontented with being put in the slow group. It did not help that Ramesh, who was the sort to take pride in saying, "You know what? I finished partying in one hour while those other guys needed 5 hours to finish partying", was the chap who was talking of the groups and the way he said 'slow group' made you feel like snails wending your slimy way up the mountains. Trust some people to make a holiday seem more like hard work than your job.

Chandru and I - devoted rose-smellers that we are - automatically places ourselves in the 'slow group'. After all, the novice trekkers needed the support of some 'experienced' ones. Kulendra of 'Adventure Connexion' - the guys who were organizing the trek for us - had joined in as a co-trekker and he, too, was with the 'slow group'. Geeta, Karthikeyan, Vinita and Sampath rounded off the group. The three Swiss Germans - Reto, Regina and Robert; Ramesh; Shivashankar and Sanjeev were the guys, who had decided that their vacation had to be spent playing hard. That, then, was the order of the first day.

Within no time at all, we were faced with an uphill trudge. The trek is in the rain shadow region and you raise a puff of dust with every step you take. The problem for me in such terrain is that the nostrils get half clogged with dust and I perforce have to breathe through the mouth. Since my throat dries up in no time when I do that I inevitably keep coughing in such terrain, which is of course a great help when you are trying to get as much of the thin air into your lungs as possible to help lug your not inconsiderable weight up a slope. But, of course, I was keeping to the tail of the group ONLY because I had to be handy to help the novice trekkers.

The novice trekkers, though, were under no compulsion to keep up with me. Karthikeyan, Geeta and Vinita went rushing on ahead to prove that they did not belong with the slow-coaches. Sampath, though, was taking it slow and easy as befits a man out to enjoy himself. Chandru kept pace with him and I brought up the rear. We hit Chusang for lunch in roughly that order.

The thing about trekking in this region is that you have tea-houses dotting the landscape and, thus, you have your meals at dining tables - with beer, if that is how you prefer it, and stay the night in rooms with beds and quilts laid on. Of course, all tea-houses offer free Wi-Fi and paid-for hot water much on the lines of how I could offer free caviar and champagne at my home. If you can find it, you can have it for free! (Well - since the hot water comes out of solar-heating of freezing cold water, they probably provide a lukewarm bath to ONE trekker and THAT, invariably, used to be Ramesh, who rushed ahead of the group merely for that privilege.)

We hit Chusang to see the crowd - barring Ramesh and Shivashankar who had decided to push on to the day's destination 'Chele' and have lunch there - sitting and waiting for their lunch to be served. Meal orders in these tea-houses have to be placed about an hour before you intend to have the meal. Thankfully, beer does not take that long!

Geeta was lying down with eyes closed. When we checked with her, she complained of headache and nausea. Acute Mountain Sickness can be a killer and these were also symptoms of AMS, so, this was worrying. I gave her half a bottle of electral and asked her to force herself to eat a meal. She drank up the electral, made some indeterminate noises and went back to communing with her misery.

When Chandru says, "When you feel like this, yeah, you HAVE to eat something, yeah, even though you won't feel like it, yeah...", the recipient of the message feels like she is listening to Krishna discoursing on the Bhagavad Gita and is impelled to follow the advice. When I say things like that, I probably sound more like a mosquito buzzing irritatingly in your ears. So, I turned to Chandru and asked him to tell her to eat when the food came. He did AND, of course, she ate.

After the meal we proceeded onwards with Geeta, Sampath, Chandru and I bringing up the rear. As it so irritatingly often happens on these treks, the last leg of the trek for the day was a steep ascent. Ramesh was waiting at the top and when Geeta reached him, she told him that she was feeling poorly since her headache and nausea had still not gone. Ramesh told her that it could not be AMS since she did the ascent quite well and, indeed, the guys behind her (Chandru and I, obviously) were also struggling and using her as an excuse for the slow pace.

Well, now you know! All of you have met such people. Just as the other end of your alimentary canal had emitted one of its infrequent loud noises and you, turning a delicate magenta, look around, hopefully expecting that no-one has noticed it even as the echoes are dying down, there is always someone cupping his ears and declaiming, "Speak on lovely lips that never spoke a lie"! If you know some such person, who specializes in voicing inconvenient truths, you KNOW Ramesh!

Drowning the resentment in beer, we trudged off to sleep to wake up to whatever horrors Ramesh had planned for the next day!

Photo Credits : Co-trekkers! Not a single one by me!

12 comments:

  1. heheh That was fun to read. Yes, yes, we all can see how you wanted to be helpful to the novice trekkers.

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  2. I would have loved to be in your slow group. But would have instead rushed on to compete with the fast ones.

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    1. I would also be torn between the two. Its not just competition though - the group going ahead experiences the scenery unspoilt. And is generally less noisy. Though in your case it seems to be the opposite :P

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    2. Places like this it is as unspoilt or as spoilt as it comes. After all, you are not the only people trekking there and there would always be a trekking group that had gone ahead of you - so what is the big deal if a few of your group have gone ahead as well?

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  3. Ha ha ! That sounded like a fun trip. Waiting to read more about your horrors ! I didnt know anything like AMS existed. Slow group it would have been for me too..or slowest if there was anything like that :)

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    1. Part-III is out. The rest will have to wait for a few days till I come back from Chennai

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  4. I don't know about AMS but I have motion sickness so higher altitudes remain alien. Nainital and Shimla are the highest I ventured. Awesome pic.

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    1. I am a martyr to it as well - motion sickness, I mean.

      The compliments for the pic is due to others - I shall pass it on :)

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  5. Hahaha..never thought a trekking experience could be written in such a hilarious manner... :-D..
    BTW, Never I've gone for a trek, though I want to, still have heard that AMS can be really dangerous especially for first time trekkers.

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    1. It can be very dangerous indeed. Don't let that stop you though. It does not affect everyone very seriously and most can handle it with sufficient hydration.

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