Click to read Part 1, Part II, Part III or Part IV
If there be some such person who has been religiously reading through - and remembering - the posts on this trek, the trek back to Samar should remind such a mythical being of that 3-5 Km descent to the tea-house at Syanboche. THAT, now, would be an ascent on the way back first thing in the morning.
Geeta had, today, decided to trek back by pony - something on the lines of the chap, who is starting his car, telling you that he was going for his morning walk. Ramesh, full of his sense of moral responsibility, had announced his intent to accompany her all the way AND, in an astonishing display of modesty, said that he would go on ahead so that he could be along with when the pony caught up with him. My! My! That he could even entertain the idea of any creature being faster than him on the trails!
Sampat, having suddenly found a grave interest in trekking, declined the offer of a pony and, thus, the three of us - Sampat, Chandru and I - set off before Geeta's ponies had ambled into the picture. Kulendra was with Geeta, since he was the chap who had the onus of getting the pony in and, more difficult, getting Geeta on to the pony.
We had completed the ascent and were down at Bhena for tea with no sight of Geeta. While we were sipping our tea, Geeta finally turned up astride her pony, looking for all the world like a Revolver Rita, sans her revolvers. Apparently, the first pony she had tried decided to have nothing to do with her and it was a miracle that she was not bucked right off into the gorge. THAT one was saddled with the baggage while Geeta was astride the other - more docile - one. WHO said complainers do not get rewarded?
Geeta was surprised that she had HAD to go piggyback on the minor slope, as she descended it with us, giving some respite to the pony. Yes - it is always like that. Slopes seem steeper when you climb than when you descend. The ones that appear almost the same both ways are the ones that you would prefer not to descend, for fear that you would BE the avalanche that goes down faster than the eye can blink.
AND nearly that sort of descent was what we faced up to after some time - going down the gorge to the river. The ponies, apparently, could not be trusted down that slope with a rider on and, thus, Geeta descended with us as well. Once I sighted the river, there was no stopping me. I HAD to have a dip - again.
In fact, on our way up, one of the things that irritated me was the fact that there was no time to spend in the water. I have always been a sucker for running water on my treks - rapids, waterfalls, streams and rivers. The fact that I know no swimming has seldom been a bar and, even some near-drowning experiences as recounted in 'Swimming like a stone' have not put me off it. AND places like this - a stream or river winding its way through a gorge with tall mountains on both sides - have always been of special appeal. Looking up the gorge between the mountains, with the sky seeming like a blue lid on top, and at the watercourse winding down, sometimes hiding itself in a curve and reappearing, glinting in a million diamonds of iridescence was mesmerizing. It always seemed to draw me in with the infinite promises, secrets and allure of Nature at its best.
Again, I was in the water and again Kulendra and Sampat enshrined me for posterity - or the trashbins of their cameras, as the case may be. (I am yet to receive these pics as well). The others stayed well upstream of me and dangled their toes in the water, and snapped the views up the gorge.
The last leg to Samar was an ascent of about 800 meters - the descent when we came down the trail, as the mythical beings can recall. Geeta climbed...her pony...and we climbed. We hit Samar in time for lunch - preceded by a beer, of course.
Meanwhile, what of the chap whose pious intentions were to accompany Geeta on her pony-ride? He had hit Samar a couple of hours earlier, had had a hot water shower and was a beer ahead of us!
Onward to Chusang the next day.
Photocredits: Fellow-trekkers. None taken by me.