Friday, November 14, 2014

The Upper Mustang Trek - IV

 Click to read Part 1Part II or Part III

Programs did change and the group split in two. Geeta, Vinita, Sampat, Chandru and I were quite content to lazily wend our way back to Pokhara, while the Swiss trio, Sanjeev and Shivashankar wanted to go on to Lo Manthang and back as planned originally. The surprise was Ramesh. He decided that he had to come back with us - since Geeta had come over on his invitation and it was his responsibility to see that she was safe. THAT, now, was a bit of a poser and left me with ambivalent feelings. Coming back was all fine but with Ramesh in the mix could anything be leisurely?

The next day the Up-to-Lo-Manthang lot went on their way, while the rest of us decided to take a rest day at Syanboche. Some rest day it turned out to be, with Ramesh taking us along on a 'short day-trek' to Chungsi caves. THAT man has no clue what 'short' really means.

It must be said that for him it certainly seemed short. While we were content to walk along on the laid out trail, he was darting to this side to climb a wee bit up to have a look-see at some caves, to that side to see if the trail that way was more 'challenging', and so on and so forth till it made me absolutely tired just to witness his energetic exertions. It seemed such a pity that mankind had spent all those eons in evolving into itself, when there were so many people who exulted in being a cross between a hare, a mountain goat and a monkey. (Geeta was so overcome by Ramesh's exertions that she stopped off mid-way and beat a retreat.)

The way to the caves was all downward, initially - something that always gives me the jitters on day-treks since we would have to come back the same way AND it would be uphill all the way then. And then we found we had to climb up and, would you believe it, I was upset about having to huff and puff uphill with no thought to how easy it would be to come back. After huffing and puffing for about an hour, we hit the caves - to find that there were steps leading up to the final destination.

If there is one thing anathema to trekkers, it is steps. Normally, you find trouble with breathing when going uphill and trouble with ankles and knees when you descend. Steps uphill ensure that you have all the problems all at once. I have no clue what a guy like Ramesh thinks about them - maybe he exults in the fact of a complete challenge - but most of the others groan the moment they see steps.

As for me, the stream by the side of the trail was so inviting, I allowed the rest to go up and get back with the reports of what was there in the caves, while I had a pleasant dip in the water. (Yes! I have been accused of having no clue about the meaning of 'pleasant' when it comes to dips in the water. The water is, normally, ice-melt and is at some 5-10 degrees centigrade. The pleasure of the dip is in the dipper, if you know what I mean. You dunk yourself in the water and pop out the moment you feel that you have lost your skin totally. Then bask in the sun - it is an absolute delight. Do it as many times as you can manage. IF it is cloudy, avoid any such activity. Hypothermia shall make as good a try at killing you as AMS)

By the time the others came down to report that there was a dilapidated figure of Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) in the upper cave, I was already in the water. Sampat wanted to take a pic and I was immersed in the water posing for him. He took so long over it that I got frost-bitten in the scalp! Upon questioning, he claimed that looking at me set him shivering so badly that he could not focus the camera. Thank God he did not shiver long enough to have me freeze over totally. (AND the minion of Hell still does not send me the pic so I can post it here. All my freezing was in vain!)

The return to the tea-house was every bit as bad as I anticipated - if anything worse, since the sun was at its noon-day fury by then. After a 5-6 hour trek (Short trek, forsooth!), we were back with chilled glasses on beer in hand.

The next day we were to go back to Samar.

Photocredits: Fellow-trekkers. None taken by me.


  1. Just a all treks have to be hectic? Isn't there something called a leisurely trek? a layman's thoughts...

    1. Tell me about it :) THAT was our complaint too!

      Though, treks may sometimes NEED to be hectic. Campsites have specific requirements - water source, flat area for erecting tents etc AND, if in the course of a trek, the distance between one day's camp and the next is too far, the it HAS to be and you HAVE to walk. BUT, generally, it need not be a everyday feature. (AND, here, we were walking from tea-house to tea-house :) )

      Other things can conspire to make treks hectic - weather may force you to abandon your original plan and the alternative can prove very difficult. One such incident is written in this blog - The Bandarpoonch trek. Your own health, injuries or whatever can render an easy trek difficult for you - no convenient hospitals nearby :) Not for nothing is it considered an adventure sport.