Take a ‘Zhep’ to the Himalayas

 

Some experiences can change your life. For me it was the challenge of the ‘Trans Himalaya Expedition 2008’ that forced me to think that there really is magic in the mountains as well as get her priorities in order. Read on to have a taste of my experience of this impulsive adventure with nature, and to find out why I think everyone should have at least one adventure of a lifetime…

 

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Group of trekkers at Deo Tibba base camp

It all started with my meeting with Durgadas Parab from Mapusa at Kala Academy, who told me all about the Himalayan trek. He is an experienced trekker with 20 years experience in his knapsack. The word, ‘Himalaya’ instantly grabbed my attention and I immediately made up my mind to go for this seven-day ‘being at one with nature trek’. My good old friend Jessica also joined me to fulfill my dream.

As it turned out it was a total of 12 days of fun filled adventure. The logistics of the trip were to be organised by the Pune based organisation, ‘Zhep’ (‘Zhep’ literally means to take a leap). This innovative establishment is foranyone interested in pursuing adventurous activities they also encourage awareness in preservation and conservation of the environment and its ecology.   This concept made me even more excited, I was so on board!

The beginning of the journey Durgadas is the Goa representative of Zhep, he was part of the team that would guide me and the rest of the intrepid explorers on this adventure of a lifetime. The name of our journey was ‘Trans Himalaya Expedition 2008’— we kick-started off from Delhi on May 14. We met up with the rest of our group there, a total of 36 members in all ranging in age from eight to 61 years. We came from all over the country, Pune, Goa, Mumbai and also from Delhi. On May 15 we reached Manali and spent a day on getting accustomed to the cool climate and the scenic beauty of this Himalayan hill station. Next day we went for our warm-up trek to Jogini waterfall. The mere six KM walk through the serene pine trees made us realise that the real trek may not be the cakewalk we anticipated.

The actual fun On May 17 we started the ‘real trek’. Frankly speaking I never really thought through what I was venturing into. Believe me my impulsive decision turned out to be an amazing and out of this world experience. We could find excitement and something unusual at every step. We soon realised the true meaning of team spirit and bonding between people. Our aim was to reach the DeoTibba base camp at an altitude of 13,700 feet above sea-level, imagine that, and our journey had just begun.

This trek is described as the finest circular trek through the forests of Prini and Pandooroupa of Himachal Pradesh. On the way we witnessed the magnificent views of the snow cappedmountains, deep forests and looked in awe at the roaring torrents of rivers.

On the first day we started our trek to Tiligan base camp. The distance was approximately 10 kms and it took us more than four hours to complete it. The tour was lengthy but very satisfying.

The scenic beauty made me think that we are also an integral part of this nature and being in concrete jungle for the most part we have actually forgotten our roots. When we finally reached our camp we had first hand experience of staying in tents and having a campfire at night, sleeping in the great outdoors is fantastic.

Challenging terrain

The next day started out at 8 am for our destination of Sarrabogi. This trek was quite easy and the distance even though the distance was also around 10 kms. We reached reasonably

quickly and had time to enjoy the camp. The real trekking started on May 18. Our aim was Kharimandiyaricamp about 12 kmsaway. Now this wasthe real deal as far as trekking goesinvolving steep climbing up and down in the mountains, crossing streams,

traversing the glaciers and even rock climbing. This was toughest part of all. The steep rock made me speechless and my legs shiver. We had to be very careful before stepping on any stone.

If we had to step on a loose stone there was a real chance of falling on another trekker who was climbing behind you.

I fumbled many times but managed with the help and encouragement of the leaders. Throughout the trek they were very supportive and gave us the required self-confidence to carry on and make for the summit.

On the team were also two local guides Gautam and Lalchand who not only helped us by showing us the way but also gave some interesting inputs about the existing ecosystem on route.

The base camp to Kharimandiyari was the most picturesque camp of all. The changing scene of the mountains at every

corner is just mind blowing. Here we also got a chance to see snow cappedmountains more closely. The green earth, the blue sky and in between the view of the mountain ranges of the

Himalayas, it simply takes your breath away! You can’t describe this beauty you have to experience it.

Panoramic view of the camp area
The camp area

Inspiration

Our next destination was the base camp to Jameer. Now, after a few days of trekking our minds and bodies were becoming acclimatised to trekking.

Now it was becoming more of fun walk with more chance to interact with other members of the group without panting and time to develop a good bonding with the rest of the team.

All of them were always there to help and guide you. But I was more pleasantly surprised about was the enthusiasm of the seniors in our group.

That group included the experienced trekker from Mumbai, Fr Francis D’Melo and also the first timers from Goa like KashinathKhalap, ChandrakantOnsker and GovindNamshiker.

They had enthusiasm of children despite their years that built-in inspiration in me. Seems that old adage is true, you are never too old, and you’re as young as you feel!

Completing the summit

Our final destination was to be the DeoTibba Base camp, which is 10 kms away from Jameer. The spectacular view of this mountain instantly dried out any tiredness and fatigue and one felt totally invigorated and ready for anything!

From here on in the really serious fun started. We got a chance to play in snow—what simply amazing fun that was.Unlike other commercial places like the Rohtang Pass this snow is virgin and untamed, what a fantastic opportunity for us all. We enjoyed ourselves to our hearts content and literally had a snow bath. The excitement of completing a summit was evident on everyone’s face. Believe me it was an unadulterated satisfaction.

View of the Deo Tibba mountain
Deo Tibba mountain

After five days of climbing up we had two for our decent. We took a break at the Ochiengbihai base camp. Climbing down can be at times more tedious than climbing up. We realised this more on

the next day when we had to climb down to come down to Manali. It was not as exciting as the other trek as it involved walking on the roads and climbing down small hills. It was lengthier than the other days of the trek. But, we didn’t complain as the summit was worth experiencing.

At last we made it to the Manali city and reached our hotels only to have bath after seven days.

Experience of a lifetime

Nowadays we are so tied up to our daily routine that we can’t imagine life beyond our own comfort zone. In my view it should be mandatory for busy people to actually take the time out and make the effort to go on a trek like this.

Here for those seven days you are one with nature, it’s a chance to put things into prospective, recharge your batteries and be at one with nature. There is no TV, Internet, mobile, newspaper or the radio to distract or entertain you.

Just watch the beauty of Himalayas and you will soon realise that you have reached heaven. The tiredness and feeling of exhaustion vanishes away, turning into exultation when you look at and breathe in nature around you.

The air is so pure that it not only refreshes your mind but also cleanses your soul. It is not tough as you think. It only requires two things—self- confidence and love for the mountains.

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This article was first published on Gomantak Times, June 11, 2008

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