Part – 2 is where all the drama lies. Before this everything was smooth, everything was great, everything was happy. This is the part where my journey took an unusual turn. This is where some things happen I didn’t wish for, things I didn’t dream of, and things that you wish never happen to anyone on any trek. But I believe everything happens for a reason and what happened on day 5 and the days after that were meant to happen.
Last night, I remember I was happy. We celebrated a birthday, had a healthy meal and went to sleep. I woke up at night to pee and also clicked some great photos of the magical Milky Way (see Part -1). Even in the morning when I woke up at 5 in the morning everything was great and awesome as always until…
The one thing that I haven’t told anyone till now is that since my BP was oddly high, I was being monitored daily throughout the trek. Everyday my BP was over 160/100 and that’s the threshold I was crossing. Day 5 was ‘The Judgement Day’ for me, should I be allowed to go further for higher camps or to take a return journey. Today was no different, when my BP was north of 160/100 and I knew unpleasant things are coming. I knew they won’t allow me to go further but there was a little hope that may be they might. Most of the time I used to lead the trail, shoulder to shoulder with the guide. I was hoping may be because I didn’t show any physical weakness they may overlook my BP.
Post breakfast and after a long discussion among trek leaders I was given two options either to go back to base camp OR to stay at Bedni for one extra day and hope for condition to improve. After regaining my senses from going blank I obviously had to choose to stay back in Bedni for an extra day and join the next batch which came to Bedni today while my batch goes ahead to Patar Nachauni.
I glanced upon the trail and could see some colored Dots on the landscape slowly traversing the trail. That was my batch heading to the Patar slowly but steadily. Far from the Bedni camp as much thirty percent (may be more) of the trail is visible and I could identify some of the trekkers from their distinctive downjackets. I kept eyeing at those marching dots again and again and imagined how the trail feels to walk on and how the view is and wonder if someone else is also looking down at the camps and thinking about me staying back at bedni. But, looking at the brighter side I got a new team and new friends to talk to, and new souls to remember. The new team was great and welcomed me with warmth and did not made me feel left out but my heart and soul remained on the trail.
I climbed the Bedni top again with the team but this time with less passion and more outrage. I climed to the Bedni top in one go and did not care to stop for a single minute to catch the breath, cursing everything that comes to my mind. I cursed everything and everyone, from the trek leaders to indiahikes, form the mountains to the trek itself and from my health to my life. It was that anger that said those things and of course I didn’t mean any of them. It was my stupid brain that was clouded with all the stuff happening and it rained while climbing that hill. I climbed without looking back putting on foot in front of another with water in my eyes and curses on my mind.
Sitting at the top on the furthest rock and gazing at the snowy peaks is where I cleared my mind and learned to let-go of all the misfortune happened to me. That’s all I did that day on the top, I gazed intensly and loosed myself into the scenery, slowly untying the knots while the cool breeze calmed my nerves. I remembered my trek leader Naada saying these mountains will always be there and I can come again anytime but I hoped that I’ll be continuing tomorrow.
By the time we came down the clouds had already covered the blue sky and we knew that we were lucky to descend early. Looking by the density of the clouds it was clear it’s going to pour and this isn’t the usual afternoon shower. Fortunatly or unfortunatly, it wasn’t raining, it was hailing and it hailed real hard. It was after an hour of hailing when we came out of our tents and saw small balls of ice all around, the topography looked like it has snowed on bedni. I can only imagine what happened on the upper camps.
It was the finale. It was do or die. It was THE DAY. The morning of day six was all it mattered after a heavy day yesterday. Taking deep breathes and calming my nerves I entered the dining tent, I closed my eyes and I felt the pressure building up on my arm and I felt my heart beat as the pressure was slowly released then again felt the pressure building up and released, again and again until finally the result was decisive. I was good to go, my BP was marginally lower than the threshold 160/100. It was high but doable and that’s all I needed for now. I was the happiest person on earth, I was smiling and my eyes were filled with joy. The dying flame was relighted and the storm within me was blown away… far, far away. I had to be careful though, it was still high and I might have to return from Patar from the same reason I won’t get an extra day this time.
The rocky trail from Bedni to Patar goes across the hills will valley on the left and our camp still visible far down below until it makes a small right turn just before ‘Ghoda Latauni’ and takes you to the other side of the hill and then follows a similar path through the grasslands. The whole trail from bedni to Patar is easy on the legs but it takes us closer to those snowy mountains which were visible from the Bedni top in the north.
Patar Nachauni is situated at an altitude of 12700 ft. or 3871 m. and is one of the windiest campsite I have ever been to. It’s so windy that we are advised to keep our tents closed all the time or they may blow away with the wind. It remains densely cloudy most of the time with occasional rains. On the left we could spot the trail which we will take tomorrow which climbs rapidly in a zig-zag fashion and disappears into the other side of the mountain at kallu vinayak.
Soon after we reached the camp site it started raining and it rained the whole day. People on the trek team said it wasn’t suppose to rain this heavy at this time of year, generally by the end of june we experience such weather when monsoon hits the Himalayas and this is somewhat unusual but that the power of mountains, they create their own weather and is highly unpredictable. We spent the day roaming around the campsite with our poncho protecting us from the drizzle and mingling with the batch returning from the Lake. By the dinner time the weather worsened and it rained cats and dogs which was heightened by extreme winds. They were so strong that our dining tent was hardly able to remain hooked to the earth and by the time the sun came up the tent was gone. Having dinner in such a situation is hell of an experience and I respect and admire the trek team who unlike us has to live for days and weeks in such situation just to make our trek comfortable.
No matter how great the experience was or how adventurous I am or how much I love the adrenaline rush in my blood, Murphy’s law never fails. Anything can go wrong and it will go wrong. Due to constant drenching in rain accompanied by blasts of cold air yesterday and constant shivering during night I couldn’t survive the night well enough. I felt weak and had headache in the morning and this has to be reported to the trek leader, clearly I didn’t pack enough warm cloths. One cannot ignore these signs and hide them from the trek team and the trek leader, it could be AMS (click for more info on AMS) or Acute Mountain Sickness. So, I informed the leader and got checked for BP which was high but less than 160/100, pulse which was normal and my oxygen saturation in blood which I recall was about 91% and then he looked for symptoms of HAPE and HACE but I was clear. After all the check-up was done I was advised to descend although I think I didn’t have AMS but I am no expert on AMS and trek leaders better trained and experienced or this. I cannot argue with the leader on that matter because golden rule is you cannot ascend with a headache, I had to descend, I was not well.
Broken heartedly I packed my stuff put a smile on the face and got ready to go down. In few hours I would be back from where I started, I would be in Lohajung. The path I walked for Five days was about to be covered in just few hours. I was escorted by a Green Trail intern, Himanshu, Great guy! And then I joined the batch we met yesterday. It was about 5 hours of continuous walking from Patar to Lohajung and I quietly walked down the trail and reached Lohajung after lunch. I rested the day out after reaching the base-camp and got ready to go home the next morning.
I woke up at 6 and packed all of my stuff, bought a bottle of the famous rhododendron juice and shared a taxi to Kathgodam with 5 amazing people and befriended them. In the end I wasn’t going home empty handed.
P.S. – back home, I obviously had concerns about my high BP during the trek and it was very unusual to have a pressure more than 160/100. I checked my BP several times in to coming days and everytime it was just about normal. I wonder what happened there on those slopes and what could I have done to prevent it. I love IndiaHikes for taking such good care of me. I could see their genuine concern about my health and how bad they felt when I had to return. Going back is never a pleasant experience and is highly demotivating but knowing that I can do this trek again for free anytime in future is one of the things that makes me come again and again on those mountains and I admire IndiaHikes for that.