The story of my winter adventure trek in India when I felt like a white walker trailing beyond the wall.
It was cold winter days by the end of 2018, when I started high altitude adventures in Himalayan region. I had just returned from my first trekking experience to Kuari Pass with Indiahikes ten days earlier and my solo trek to Deoriatal-Tungnath-Chandrashila Peak, 3 days ago.
Har means everyone and Dun stands for valley, So this is the valley for everyone. Before start of this trek, usual things happened such as formalities, group introduction, and briefing followed by dinner and good night sleep.
Story of a Winter Adventure
First day, we trailed beside the slithering river flowing in the valley engulfed by mountains and camped in an encampment before the last remote village on the trail, Osla. First day is always hard as body takes some time to adjust to the trail, the weather and the altitude.
It gets easier from second day onwards, a few bridges and waterfalls along the way with a distant sight of river flowing down in the valley as we climbed up the high mountains. We camped for the night at camping ground of Kalkatidhar, mere 6 kms before our destination, Har ki Dun valley.
The trail and surrounding valley was devoid of snow all the way to this camping site, named after Bengalis. Dark clouds encompassed the valley by the evening and predictions were being made by lots of us as what may or might happen.
As the night brought darkness with itself, a Baba appeared from somewhere up in the mountains. The fire was lit by locals nearby as the weather was too cold and Baba entertained us with mythological stories and Bhajans. After a few hours, little rain started drizzling, forcing everyone to their tents for a good night sleep so we could trail ahead the next day.
I was there outside enjoying the showers and the rain turned into snow in front of my eyes. At first it was a flurry of snow, so I roamed around and felt it as deep as I could. Even, I shouted for a while for everyone to come out and enjoy the falling snow. Most of them were awake at the moment, but only 3 people dared to come out of their comfy tents in the middle of the night in freezing cold. They too walked around for 5 minutes and went back in. Anyway, after a couple of hours, I did finally go to sleep but kept shaking my tent from inside from time to time as instructed.
As it was the time for sun to come out in the morning ,I opened my eyes and unzipped the front of my tent and Oh, we were literally buried in snow covering more than half of my tent.
Snow was falling continuously, People prayed for snow last evening and here it was. First snow of the season in those regions and It was too much for most of us. I walked around in that white carpet of snow with a cup of coffee in my hand while leaders and people enjoyed themselves and finally decided to head back to the nearest village if we had to survive. The nearest village Osla was almost 14 kms from our campsite. Mules and porters had left last night only.
We packed and continued our snowy winter escapade down the hill when the trail was almost lost in the thick whiteness. With each leg forward, it went piercing the layers of soft snow beneath. And snow kept falling on our heads throughout the journey. A team of white walkers walking down the trail while slipping and falling on our asses all the time.
Sometimes, I led the pack and sometimes I trailed, alternating as I felt like doing while enjoying my trek and clicking some shots. The trail which was devoid of snow when we went up was now a snowfield.
After 8 hours of adventure while slipping and falling in that massive snowfall, we finally reached the village where we could survive.
We got beds to sleep in, at a cosy homestay and we stayed there for the next two days resting, enjoying, talking, roaming around the village.
Next day, I found a new-born puppy thrown away on the side of the trail over snow and the story changed for everyone.
Three out of five locals who went in the nearby valley, had died that night of massive snowfall and the authority had to close the trail for trekking last winter after this incident. This way our chilling feat came to an end.
An adventure awaits when something goes unplanned, and it should be like this. Unexpected turn of events did not let us reach the destination, but we had more fun this way. It was a magical experience and remember, the journey is more important than the destination itself. So take your time and enjoy the journey.
Do not be afraid of anything, but be careful. Winter adventures in Himalayas is not to be taken lightly. If you survive, you will have a memory, if not then .. Well….
I would love to know about your experiences. Share it with me if you have the time