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  • Passing boulders

    Posted on June 27th, 2009 Sheila Yair No comments

    usWe set off to a three day hike in the mountains. We don’t have any real plan. We found a nice trail in one of our day hikes and decided to let it take us where it may. The trail climbs through some villages and up the side of a beautiful valley going towards one of the snow peak mountains of the Dhauladhar range. We see many monkeys, birds and butterflies. After about two hours we get to a big ravine where the trail seems to stop. We look around going up and down and can’t seem to find any continuation. We have two choices to either go up the ravine or down to the river bed. We try and find a way down but to no avail. We see gorgeous green pools down below about 400 meters but there is no way we can get there. It is moments like these when I most envy birds. So we try going up the ravine. I was hoping we could go up the valley and then maybe around the other side making it a more interesting hike, the trail ending put an end to that idea. I also was hoping that we might pass by water and get to swim, but we are headed up. After passing a few big boulders we get to one which seems impassable. It is here that I discover that Sheila, whom is suppose to be the reasonable one and stop me from going to far, is crazier than I am. She spots a crack filled with weeds that goes all the way up the boulder. Now we usually don’t like weeds, always taking them out of our gardens and yards, there is even a verb for it which is always derogative. But weeds have very strong roots and they are your most reliable bet when reaching to pull yourself up or balancing yourself. So we climb up the crack totally relaying on the weeds as a rope. We pass that boulder only to find another one shortly after, we can’t pass this one so we take a smaller ravine to the right. We see a big tree in the distance and decide to have lunch there. It is a very steep climb with Sheila needing to give me a knee and me pulling her up once and twice us having to take off the backpacks and climb a crack putting our feet on one side and pushing our backs against the rock for leverage. We stop halfway up the cracks and pass the bags from one to the other to get them over. We finally reach the tree. Thy say the difference between courage and stupidity is only if you succeeded or not. So for now we are courageous. After launch we keep climbing until we see a flat grassy clearing to the right. It has been a stiff climb and we decide to camp early. From the campsite we can see the snowy peaks on one side and the rumbling valleys below us on the other. I wonder how is it that one planet can be so beautiful. We walk around a bit and find a nice rock that sticks out, that is our balcony for watching the sunset. We also see what seem to be flags, we take a picture with the camera and zoom in to discover they are actually Tibetan prayer flags, technology. So we can either try and go to the flags and look for a trail there or back down the way we came, we will sleep on it.

    As the sun starts setting we see two mountain deer climbing up a grassy ravine. It is a lot easier with four legs and no backpack.

    usWe see a beautiful sunset and we dedicate our thoughts to Gene and the Threadgill family. This day has ended but it will be etched in our hearts and it left many great memories just as I am sure Gene left many fond memories with the people who shared his life. Gene, wherever you are, there a re two people on a mountain top in India thinking about you. And to Maggie and the rest of the Threadgill family our hearts are with you and we wish you the best.

    In the morning we decide to try and get to the flags. It was a great adventure coming up here but neither of us rally wants to do it again quite yet.

    We have to climb through the bush to get to what seems to be the peak and from there to the right until the flags. We go for about an hour through bushes and trees. It is very steep just to give you an idea I am walking with a 20 centimeter long stick and don’t have to bend. After an hour the slope is much less steep. Most mountains become more gentle and welcoming as you ascend them (excluding volcanoes which are rough till the creator) as if they are saying you came this far you can’t be all that bad. Our mountain aside from offering us spectacular views and nice gentle paths also gives us patches of strawberries. I know I have lost Sheila. She has this thing about picking berries, any berries. She says it is from her ancestors who were hunters and gatherers. Her motto is no berry left behind and unlike the child left behind equivalent she really doesn’t lave many of them behind.

    We reach the grassy top. All day yesterday we saw huge raptors with white wings fly above us. They now land on a tree right beside us. They are vultures but their wings look just like eagles. We also see a shrine below us so we know we have a smoother way down. With all this we decide to climb to the top which seems very close now. It is a fake top but adrenalin has kicked in and you don’t feel tiered or hungry you just want to get to the top. Also we are on very good terms with the mountain now and the trail is clear and easy. After 5 fake tops we reach the real one. There is a Hindu shrine and Tibetan pray flags. We see the original river that we started walking on, the hill tops are all below us and there is just a small valley between us and the snow line. I again wonder how is it that one planet can be so beautiful. We decide to go to the snow line and then return through the other valley, looks like a circular trek after all. We cross the valley and a huge boulder field and start climbing to the snow line. We wash our cloth and feet in the ice cold river and rest in a nice patch of grass. There are herds of livestock here. Shepherds bring their goat sheep and even cows to graze here. There are little stone huts where they spend the night while with their flock. usFor the sake of privacy we decide to climb a hill opposite the snowy mountain. For the fifth time today I say “let’s climb a little more and then we will set camp”. It is worth it we are on top of the world now. It is the first time we are cold in India. We get right in the tent after dinner and the sunset.

    The third day we go down. We have reached an altitude of about 3500 meters. We go through Triund which is where people come up to see the mountains and some use it as a base camp before climbing to the pass which lies just above where we camped. The trail from here has many people and some shops selling cold drinks and snacks. It is not as natural as our way up but it is nice to have a trail under your feet.

    What a great hike this turned out to be with no real planning, rock climbing: check, circular rout: check, sleeping by a stream: check, snow line: check, easy descent: check, one of the best hikes ever.

    I keep thinking we were on the verge of missing all this if we had turned around and not climbed the first boulder. The lesson is always try passing life’s boulders you never know what great journey might lay behind them.

    A smaller lesson is be kind to weeds you never know when you might need them.

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