Click to read Part 1, Part II, Part III, Part IV or Part V
The climb to Samar on the way up was now the descent. We were headed to Chusang and we started off with the testing descent. Now that we were taking it in easy stages, there was a miraculous revival of interest - nay, active enthusiasm - in Sampat and Geeta. Strange how, once we dispense with the tough parts, trekking seems to become almost an obsession.
Midway though, at the tea-stop, Geeta suddenly developed a new interest. There was a school bus starting off from there and she wanted to continue her trek by bus. No amount of twitting her about the fact that riding piggyback did not mean that she had become a school girl would stop her complaints about how hardhearted Chandru and I were in denying her the pleasure. Apparently, she was vying for the exclusive pleasure of having 'trekked' by every available mode of transportation. (The fact that there was an old foreign gentleman, who was trekking by the expedient of riding a pony uphill and walking downhill, robbed her of that necessary feeling of uniqueness in having 'trekked' by pony. We had to console her by telling her that he could not have done the piggyback ride and the motorbike ride, too)
Ramesh, as usual, had sped ahead and, when we reached the destination, we had a message to join him at the river. By the time we set out - trying to find a way to the river - he was back going gaga about exactly the same things that I talked of when I mentioned my earlier dips in the water. We got side-tracked into plucking apples right of the trees nearby and crunching them. Such crisp, tangy and juicy apples as I had never had in my life - but then I have mostly been a city-brat and something fresh off the trees has not come my way too often.
We did try to reach the river, thereafter, but the only path was a near 90 degree descent - easy enough to accomplish, if you just thought of sliding down, but daunting to think of climbing back up. Ramesh, I suppose, must have found a way OR used this path but judging what I could do by what he could do was more stupid than even I can claim to be. So, we retreated to the tea-house.
There were a few foreigners in the tea-house, as indeed there had been in almost all the tea-houses we were in, who asked Ramesh whether we were all trekking friends - to which he pointedly replied, "Friends but NOT trekking friends". Such is human nature. If you read/write books that I would not read, you are no reader/writer; if you enjoy movies that I do not enjoy, you are no movie buff etc etc. Strange how we define every activity only by how WE prefer doing them.
I am sure that there must be someone - who carries all his belongings himself; finds his own way; puts up his own tent; cooks his own food on his own campfire - who would sneer at the idea of Ramesh calling himself a trekker! Chandru and I, on the other hand, call ourselves trekkers merely because we know of no other word to differentiate what we prefer doing from what Ramesh prefers doing and, thus, what Ramesh said did not act on us like he had deprived us of a deserved Nobel prize. We had both left behind the hierarchies of corporate life and were in no hurry to be fitted into hierarchies in what we thought of as our leisure activity.
So, when the next day's plan was for us to trek to Kagbeni, take a jeep to Muktinath and then continue by jeep to Jomsom, while Ramesh would trek to Kagbeni and then to Muktinath, there was no rush of volunteers to join Ramesh. (From Chusang to Muktinath would have been shorter BUT Ramesh needed the porter to guide him and the porter had to dump our duffel bags in Kagbeni first.)
The last day of the mandatory trek lay ahead on the next day.
Photocredits: Fellow-trekkers. None taken by me.