journey to solitude (continued II)

 

Gosaikunda and back again (Part IV)

“If you can’t find a good companion to walk with, walk alone, like an elephant roaming the jungle. It is better to walk alone than to be with those who will hinder your progress.” – Buddha

Previous Part https://aadeshnpnblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/15/journey-to-solitude-continued-i/

Continued from above part

My legs couldn’t balance my body. I fell backwards. The bag acted as a cushion when I fell. I removed the bag from shoulders and quickly checked if my leg has started to swell because of the cramped ankle. Luckily, I couldn’t notice any signs of swelling but it did hurt. After some time, I came on my foot, carried the bag and started the steep hill.

Oho ! I forgot to tell you about the availability of water on the trail. You could find the source of water in every major stop having the direction board. Those major stops were either two hours far apart or three hours far apart. Based on this assumption, I used to refill my water supply. I last filled my water supply on the hotel that I stayed.

After walking two hours with the hurt ankle, I reached the top of that hill. There I could see the remains of what used to be a hotel. This must be the damage done by the earthquake. I couldn’t see any source of water to fill my water bottle. I was out of the water and couldn’t find any water source though I tried hard. Hoping that I would find water shortly, I started walking. Now the trail was not that steep as before but I was above 4000 meters. This altitude caused me to feel more tired. Now was talking breaks more frequently as compared to the first day where I hardly took any rest.

The trail started getting more demanding. High altitude, big weight and without water. After walking two hours without water, I couldn’t continue. I rested my body over the bag and started enjoying the nature in the middle of the trail. I thought nature would give me some inspiration to continue. I closed my eyes and waited for someone to appear and help me out. I am not sure how much time I rested there, but it was a long time. Then I could see three shadows appearing towards me. Those shadows were of two girls and a boy. I asked them if they could lend me some water. The boy was rude and said he only has very least left. But the girls donated some water. I greeted them and they were on their way. I quickly mixed Glucose-D with the water and drank most of it. Then, I could feel my body. I was rejuvenated. With excitement, I collected my bag and headed toward the trail.

After walking for some hours, I could see the holy lake. But to reach over there, it would take me one more hour. Now, my feet started to move fast seeing the beauty of the holy lake. There were two big rocks where the trail ended. With happiness, I removed the backpack and laid down on the ground facing my head up and looking towards the sky. Yes, I reached to the holy lake Gosaikunda. After I got my senses back, I started searching a suitable place to put on my tent. Instantly, I wanted to put the tent just beside the holy lake. I dropped down a little from the small hill towards the holy lake which was just minutes away. I found a perfect place to put my tent. Placed my bag carefully on a small bump. Released the tent and sleeping bag. Saw a manly figure approaching towards me. He asked me if he could help. I readily replied yes. Then he helped me to put on the tent. During that time we exchanged few words. He said that he was from England and was traveling alone. He was staying in a tea house above. Then he was on his way to the tea house. I pulled all my stuff inside the tent. I started looking for firewood to cook some food. But I couldn’t any since I left the forest some five hours behind. Went to the tea shop if I could buy some. My request was rejected as they complained it takes them many days to bring them to this place. Their denial was justified. So, I was compelled to eat something in that tea house. I ordered fried rice and in meantime talked with the tourist. There were five Arabi tourists and one from England that I had met earlier.

They said they were going across the Surya Kunda Pass early in the morning. I said them to inform me in the morning as it would be safer to cross the pass with a company. After finishing the Fried Rice, I went towards my tent. In this short distance between tea house and my tent, I could collect few leftover firewoods which would be sufficient to boil a cup of water for tea. I made fire and made a cup of tea. Went to the tent and started reading the books I had with me. After an hour going through the book, I wanted to take a good rest.

Woke up early in the morning before sunrise. Wanted to climb a peak which was attached to the lake and was not that high. Based on the paper map I had the peak was around 4800 meters. I could certainly climb that peak and see the sunrise from the top of the mountain. So, went towards the mountain. Found two thin sticks which I used them as a pole as the climb was too steep. Without that pole, I couldn’t climb that peak. After an hour, I reached the top of the peak. I saw an old figure taking pictures from an expensive camera. He was the guide for the old tourist group that I met in one of the tea houses. He was old but quite healthy. He said he used to train Army for Mountain accent. Also, he has been to many countries for mountaineering. The old people he came along were his friends from Germany. He had a house in Chabil and said that I was invited to his house to collect the photographs. It was a very pleasant moment to meet such an experienced man in the peak and get a chance to hear his awesome stories.

I was around 9 am when I finally dropped off the peak and reached my tent. All the fellow tourist had already left. It took an hour for me to pack the tent and get ready for the mountain pass. At first, I worshipped the holy lake and washed my face with the holy water. Felt like I have healed myself from all sorrows. My whole body started feeling energetic. Then with the fully loaded bag, I started going towards the pass. It would take a normal person around two hours to cross the pass. First few steps were very energetic. Then the high altitude and heavy load started to test my endurance. Barely I have walked 15 mins and I have already started taking rests every 2 minutes. Though the trail was not that steep as the peak I climbed in the morning, I was facing difficulty. As soon as I used to view the distant trail, I was getting anxious that I have that long way to go.

Then I realised, it’s better to look at your own step instead of looking at the distant path. This way you can focus to take only a step forward but in very short time you would have reached the place once you feared that it was too far. After finishing a steep ascent, I could see some other lakes. The lakes were magnificent. Their beauty is simply too good to describe here in words. Based on the map, there was the total of eight lakes including the holy lake Gosaikunda. The beauty of lakes and the surrounding mountains enchanted me. I was spellbound. After that, I didn’t realise how I reached to Surya Kunda. The last lake among eight. I could see a Nepali Flag on the top of the pass. I went to the top. The current altitude based on the board located there was 4610 meters. I held the flag and felt very proud. I had an awesome feeling to be in Nature and admire its beauty. I felt like I was at home. I stayed there in for some moment. I thought I will share my story and inspire everyone to go in the wilderness alone. I thought these moments alone will help us to inspire, encourage and motivated. Then I remembered a warning given by some people in the tea house. The weather around mountain pass is unpredictable. All the trekkers need to cross the pass early in the morning to be safe. It gave me goosebumps. I thought to myself, what could go wrong? It’s so good weather. I have made it till here without being seriously injured. I quickly carried the bag and crossed the pass.

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Now a steep descent started. The weather was changing every five minutes. I could see the clouds passing me to get to the top. When the clouds came in, it would be cold and I needed to turn on torch lights and when the clouds passed aways it was sunny. I have never experienced this before. The trail was like the scene of “The Hobbits” where the hobbits were being chased by the orcs. Green small grasses, huge stones, and uneven ground. I really thought that the scene must have been shot over here. I was enjoying every bit of nature. The tail was exquisite. I wish more people could see this beauty. Heaven on earth.

I was praising the nature beauty and singing songs in loud voice. I suddenly felt uneasy with my rucksack. The left strap of the bag tore and all the load of the bag went to my right shoulder. I stopped at the moment, put down the bag and examined it. I found out the left strap tore very badly. I didn’t have anything to sew the straps. So I tied a knot with the left strap and held the knot with my left hand. If I didn’t hold the knot, it would break free and disbalance the weight of the bag. This was not that compared to all the bad thing that could happen when travelling all alone. I was not a bit worried about this problem. I was happily descending down of the mountain. After few hours of descending, I found a tea house and asked about the directions of the trail. They showed me the direction that I didn’t want to go. I saw a mix of lows and highs while descending down and wished I don’t have to go that way. Life is not fair. You have to do the thing you don’t want to. Without any choice, I had to go through that difficult trail.

Now the trail was getting difficult. The trail width was very less. You could barely put your two legs adjacents to each other while walking. Moreover, the earthquake had done lots of damage to the trail. Due to flooding and landslide, the straight trails has been modified with steep up and down. Still, stones were falling from high hills and mountain. There was no such trail where there hasn’t been a landslide. Nature has changed its form cruel. It was not possible to move up the trail without placing both hands on the ground to support the body as it was too steep and slippery. Until this day, I thought the trails I came though were pretty easy ones that what I am travelling. In one of the moment, when I crawled up through a place where a big landslide has occurred and heading downwards, to make matter worse, my right strap of the bag tore as well. I tied knots for both of the straps and need to hold on the knots with both hands. But I required hands to climb the difficult trails as well.

Things were going well without both of the straps. I was travelling with same enthusiasm and happiness as I had before. Still, I was admiring the songs of the birds from the distant forest. Maybe nature wanted to teach me a lesson. Nature just couldn’t see me happy regardless of what happened earlier. To test my limit, it started to rain lightly. Light rain only helped me to wash away the sweats flowing through my face. Now, I started to get worried. What if it starts to rain heavily? There are only flooded hills with rocks gliding downwards. There was no place to put on the tent so that I could stay safe inside. I couldn’t go back to find some safe place as there were none. Only the safe place would be inside the tent. But the path is too narrow that I can’t spread my legs how I am supposed to put the tent on the trail. These thoughts were playing in my mind as the rain started to get heavier. I tried my best to increase the pace so that I could end up in a safe place to put on the tent. But I was out of luck. Now, with heavy rain, big hailstones were falling from the sky. It seems like nature was punishing me for some big mistakes I had done.

Towards the turn, there was a big landslide area which would take be fifteen minutes to cross. I could see big stones falling from above that area. It was not wise to try to cross that area in this heavy rainfall and hailstorm. It was also not wise to stay on that narrow trail. As I couldn’t figure out anything to escape this great problem. I put down the bag in the tail. Opened the tent bag. Used the tent for a blanket to cover me and the bag. I was wearing the tent like a blanket so that I could protect the bag from getting wet. But still, I could feel the pain of the hailstone hitting my head.

The path that I descended from the Surya Kunda was all white. All the mountains that I saw naked were once again filled with snow. The forest around me was all white due to hailstone. The trail just vanished in front of my eyes. There were huge deposits of hailstone all around the forest that let me wonder which way will lead towards my next destination. All this and still my internal beliefs was unmovable. I was still confident that this would get over soon and I would follow the tail.

I don’t know the exact amount of time about how much did I waited in the hailstorm wearing tent as a blanket. Maybe its was just two hours. But at the moment it felt like an eternity. During that time, I have lost all my patience, faith, confidence, and belief. Felt like I have been in that situation for entire life. Felt like it was a bad dream and once I wake up, it will be all over. But I was not dreaming. I was there in for real. Any way you go there were few chances of survival.  I needed to take a quick decision else anything could happen. The prospects of survival were to stay awake whole night holding on the tent like a blanket. If I did so there was still highly probable chances of big rocks sliding down and strike down. Also, there were dangers of wild animals or I couldn’t fall off from the place while I was taking cover or the landslide might occur and I would be swept away with it. They were many possibilities on that side but very few rare possibilities on the bright side.

I closed my eyes. I could listen to the hail stones colliding with each other, the anger of the clouds demonstrating it with thunderstorms. I could see the bright light from the thunderstorms with my eyes closed. I tried to remain calm. I tried to find some way out from the situation I was in. I analysed that waiting for the storm to get over would be the worst decision given the current situation. The only way to survive was to move from the current location and find a safe spot. In this unfavourable condition, it was very hard for me to walk with holding my both hands to knot. And the environment is so cruel, moving forward with the bag is a suicide. Different escape routines came to my mind. I dismissed most of them as soon as they came to my head. In that moment, some inner voice said to me, “Your time hasn’t come yet. You have so much to give to this world. You are very kind, strong and courageous person. You can’t forfeit this early. You can’t lose. You can handle this situation pretty well. Leave the bag and all your belonging here only. Life is important. Till you have life, you can always get the belongings back.” Without giving a second thought, I took out the paper map, wallet, jacket, Sneakers and phone from the bag. I already had my swiss knife and torch light in the right pocket. Carefully, I wrapped the tent properly outside the bag.

I was back to my senses. I decided to leave all the belongings over there and run for my life. Now the problem was that I couldn’t find the trail as hailstone has covered the whole area to some depth. But at that time the trail and direction didn’t matter. What mattered was the determination to run away from there. I put all my effort and energy on my legs. My legs would get diffused into the pile of hailstone thus making it harder. I stopped keeping track of how many time I had fallen to the ground or rolled down the hill or hit towards a tree. I didn’t feel any pain when I fell down or rolled down or hit a tree. All I felt was the eagerness to run. I ran like Forrest Gump. But the hailstorm was not even giving a slight hint of slowing down. Maybe the pain of the hail stone hitting my head was one of the motivations that kept me moving. After running for maybe an hour and a half I could see some blurry picture of a house. That figure motivated me to increase my pace. I reached the door of the house and knocked it hard.

I was in. It was a small tea house which has been renovated from the earthquake. I could see some familiar faces inside the tea house. Those people were the tourist that I met yesterday in the tea house at the holy lake.  I was all wet. The storm outside was so strong that it would threaten the tea house to blow it away. Everyone asked what happened to me. I described them the full situation I was in. I asked if they encountered the storm before they reached here. They replied they started their journey early in the morning so that they came here before the storm started. With the wet clothes, I started playing carrom board with the tourist. Still, I had some trick left with me for that game. I used to be a very good carrom board player and that day I did quite well.

Had good hot food in the tea house. The house owner asked me to stay there next day so that they would help me to get my stuff back. But I refused and said that they could keep all the stuff if they decide to risk and recover the luggage. I dried some of the clothes that I was wearing. They showed me a room to take rest for the night. The whole night, the storm would get uglier. It would show its anger with loud thunderstorm and wake me up.

I woke up around 5 am. They prepared me an apple pie as breakfast. I left the tea house before the tourist would wake up. I started running instead of walking. Maybe I was feeling light without a bag so I was able to run. After two hours reached the next stop. I could see the Surya Kunda peak and the trail I came down yesterday. The whole mountain range was looking beautiful. I could read the post in each stop saying it would take two hours or more. But to my surprise, it would take me around one hour or less to reach each stop. I reached to Chisapina in evening that day with only the Sneakers that I had. I didn’t know I could walk this fast. Next day before noon I reached Sundarijal and at home.

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This journey was one of the life changing moments of life. I suggest everyone to travel somewhere alone for few days. I am sure that journey would be a life changing experience and help the individual to grow more confidence and motivated towards following their dreams.

 

 

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