“I have conquered many of the highest mountains in and around the states of India”
A statement overheard on a train journey really got me thinking and ask myself; How do you conquer a mountain, how do you fathom the enormity of what is truly immovable. Conquering definitely is emerging victorious after a battle where both sides have given their best. Well surely you have given your best but did the mountain really give its best or even try to put up a fight.
Climbing a mountain was surely not my thing, not because I don’t love to walk, but the feeling of what if I’m not able to complete the journey. The fear kept me gripped across my entire childhood and even in the late twenties. Guess that feeling and thought was rooted deep within thanks to the result orientated society we live in.
Six hours, braving through waist deep snow, the numbness seeping in through the gitters and losing light, the adrenaline is yet high. My team looking up with trust in their eyes, pose a question, we can’t walk anymore, let’s go back. And I only ask them to trust me enough and give me that one step at a time, nothing more and nothing less. An hour added on the clock, the sun sets in, the golden light scattered across the shimmering fresh snow which has covered every inch of the ground. The blue sky is giving way to unimaginable colors and a horizon never ending. Silence engulfed all of us; breaths clearly heard we truly are witness to one of the best scenes that was being unfolded in front of our eyes.
We turn our backs and something enormous stands in our face. Colors of white and black neatly scattered, the white clouds shaping themselves continuously, the cold winds picking up speed, the bluish hues all around and the last sun rays trying to make way through the entire solitude. The silence continues as our eyes are trying to soak in the grandeur of The Himalayas. Welcome aboard the Triund, truly a baby step on the range which yet is undiscovered. The Mun Peak stands tall at 4610m in the Dhauladhar Range. Accompanied by less famous, Gaurjunda (4946m) or the Dhauladhar Mattehorn, Christmas (4581m), Toral (4686m), Dromedery (4553m), Riflehorn (4400m), Camel (4520m), Lantern (5100m) and many more, these are capped by snow throughout the year. Well my bucket lists stands updated.
As we continue to trot the plain snow clad fields atop the Triund, the powder snow giving way at many steps, the smell and warmth of fresh tea and a nicely cooked meal with bonfire keeps us going. The happiest moment at such a point in life isn’t the heavy bank balance or a successful career that we may or can have, but it’s the most basic necessity of life, Food- Clothing and Shelter (Roti, Kapda aur Makaan). Well sometimes even the basics need to be worked hard for as they say our shelter house doors are almost covered with snow. The scrapping begins turn by turn until we unlock the door, slam the backpacks, grab hold of warm sleeping bags. As the warmth starts seeping in so do the smiles and the feeling of content of achieving what we thought we couldn’t complete. As we light a fire up, the soup’s boiling, truly a million stars play twinkle and all are playing the LOST SOULS game. Is there anything more beautiful than this? As a photographer, I always find myself in a dilemma, Do I capture the moment through my lenses or I simply soak it all in within myself, well frankly now I choose the latter. The night was just better with hot water bags placed at our feet within the sleeping bags, surely the best sleep that one can get.
The eyes open to a fresh morning while the mind tells you to stay in the warmth of the room, but the heart keeps telling you of what might be in store outside the rustic door. Well as they say the heart stays above the head, my soul is yet again treated to views of the horizon which truly never ends, mountains on the right with the first rays of light trying to make it through the barriers of stone and cloud. A cup of tea, a lovely rock and the sounds of wind, truly LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL.
As we pack our site and load up the bags, the weather is set to be the best companion for the day. Fresh, energetic and dry is truly the mantra with fun being the cherry of the cake. Well, the fresh powder snow from yesterday looks all sorted and now is the playground for jumps and slides. Injuries, bumps, crashes we just can’t get enough. The Maggi and Chai with some magic views are abuzz with many fellow adventurers and their stories. From a group of 6 trekkers we now join together to become a group of 25 friends for life, all weaved together with LOVE and RESPECT for the Mountains and Nature.
As we finally bid goodbye, we simply pose that one last unanswered question;
What did we conquer really, The Mountain Peak or simply the Fears within us?
PS: The author is a seasoned trekker and a wildlife enthusiast and leads expeditions across India professionally under the aegis of The iTravel Group. All images are the sole copyright of The iTravel Group and kindly seek prior permissions before them for any commercial purposes. Misuse of the same would invite legal implications in the court of law.