Har ki Doon 2006 - Base Camp

Day 2
The day began at 05.00 with bed tea. Our departure from the camp to Sankri was scheduled at 07.00. Before that we had to get ready, have breakfast and pack our lunch. After a long time, I had got up at 5 o'clock in the morning. But I have always been punctual. Whatever may be the time, if I am required to be ready to go somewhere, to catch a train or bus, I would be ready.
The morning was cloudy. Last night it had rained for some time and that gave freshness and dampness to the air. The chartered bus which took HD23 to the base camp Sankri was there on time and after loading all the luggage on top of the bus, we were flagged off. All journey should have the blessings of the Lord. That is my belief. And so was the belief of many others. So as soon as the bus took off, Sharmaji initiated us to chant Om Namah Shivai. I should mention here that our faith in the Almighty was the reason for wonderful climate that awaited us.

Now let me introduce you all to our group HD23.
Guruji - Our group leader. Guruji is from Katni, MP, aged 67, he is the oldest in our group. Trekking has been his passion all life. A badminton player, who has represented his State, is a good measure of his fitness. Guruji has a unique style of trekking. He treks at the same pace, no matter what happens.

Kankane Sir - Another buddy (I think it is right enough to call him that, though his chronological age is 65) from Katni, MP. He is a retired head master. One could call him Guruji's right hand in the sense that they have spent most of their trekking life together. He is younger than most of us in trekking as well as in masti. He mingled with us so well that it will be hard to miss him.

Sharmaji - A master of many trades. This govt servent from Delhi is a seasoned trekker and had done many treks before this one. He is very active and is an amazing photographer. He has several of his photographs published and YHAI has also used his snaps to publicise their treks.

Vipul and Mukesh - These are two friends from Mumbai. Vipul is marble dealer and Mukesh is a contractor. Vipul was sort of infamous in the group for remaining alone. He is a good trekker and hence left the others way behind. Mukesh is a good singer. He mingled with most of us.

Ridham and Hetal - The brother-sister from Mumbai formed a good company for the trek. Hetal teaches KG kids and Ridham helps his father in their construction business. Both had good knowledge of birds and Ridham's photographs are a proof of this. Hetal was slow during the trek and this curbed Ridham from speeding.

Viral, Vandan, Upen, Naitik and Vineeth - The bombay boys. This was a group of boys from Mumbai in their high school. They formed a good bunch of friends and almost always remained together. They had lots to share amongst themselves.

Dhairya - This kid was also part of the above group of bombay boys. But he is special as he was the one who went back midway in trip and then rejoined us and completed successfully. He lost 6 kgs of his 92 kilos.

Kajal and Payal - The girls from Mumbai. Kajal is doing her executive MBA in oil and natural gas. She was nicknamed "The Gujjar" for spreading out her grooming kit anywhere. She was also called the "Tham Jham wali Aunti". Payal has just finished her class 10th. She had tough time in one of her treks and was nicknamed "Stop It".

Jyothi - This lady was from Mumbai. A good trekker and a lady with lots of values. Dont know much but can say she is wonderful human being.

Nivedita - She was from Jabalpur and part of the Katni gang. A central govt. servant. She is a good trekker and spoke very less.

Ashish and Rashmi - This is a newly wed couple from Katni. What a way to start off a married life! Both are good singers. Ashish is a school teacher. Though it was their first trek, they finished it very decently.

Aman - The Spiderman. He is the smallest in the group, smallest in age and not in height. He was named Spiderman after his stunts with the spider in one of the camps.

Aditya - The treeline. He is a year senior to Aman. Aditya is a fast trekker and is usually in the lead.

Sanket and Bhavin - The Gujju guys. Sanket is a lawyer and Bhavin is an engineer. They remained together and were the ones responsible for bringing the slow trekkers.

The introduction was given by Anoop. I just included it in my blog.

As the journey started, people were busy amongst their own groups of 2 or 3. Anoop, our MC, took charge of converting HD23 from local groups from Mumbai, Katni and Delhi into one single entity, a family. Scotty was also good at this job. I joined them for some time but the giddiness due to the hairpin curves that the bus manouvered forced me to take rest. I went off to sleep and slept for the whole journey. I missed all the scenery that passed by. From the photographs that others clicked, I came to know that we followed river Yamuna for quite some time. Then we diverted along the course of river Tongs, a tributary of Yamuna. We passed many beautiful valleys and small towns. We stopped for lunch at Purola (though I was not in a mood to eat anything). All the members of the group, except me made phone calls to their homes as this was the last town where telephone facility was available. By 16.45 we were at the base camp.

We were 26 in number - 20 males and 6 females. So we were allotted 3 tents - 2 for males and one for females. The tents had a capacity of 14 and there were 10 of us in a tent. So it was very spacious and comfortable. I have never lived in a tent before and I was feeling thrilled about the next 10 days in tents.

After welcome drink, tea and snacks, we were briefed about the trek, local life, high altitute sickness and the various precautions that we should adopt and about the mountain discipline that we should obey. There was a model of the trek route that gave us a clear picture of the path, the difficulty involved and the scenery that we would see.

Camp fire was conducted after dinner by HD12. They had completed the trek and had returned to the base camp on the same day. Interaction with the members of HD12 instilled apprehension amongst us as we heard about the incessant rains that they had to suffer. "Few routes are dangerous in rain". That was the general comment. With lots of dreams, all of us passed our first night in tents.

Day 3
I had thought of writing the blog on my own. But when Anoop told me that he is going to maintain a travel diary, I intrusted the job fully to him. He started writing the travel diary from day 3. So from here onwards I am copying and pasting portions of his travelogue. These are in italics. 'I' refers to Anoop. and VG is me. Lachu refers to Sandeep. Dont get confused! I am using the liberty to put in on my blog without any copyright issues, because I was the one who typed his hand written 10 page document.

Having camped overnight I was already into the mindset for this dream trek. All my life I took several vows to "exercise daily". It never happened. Now I got a chance to flex my muscles in this wonderful valley. We did a small stretch of jogging followed by some light exercise. At this point I should describe our instructors - Parbina, Rampyari and Chandan Singh. This girl Parbina is a real beauty from the hills. These folks have unparalleled complexion. After a wholesome breakfast of eggs, bread and broken wheat soup we were ready for the acclamatisation session. With the poori lunch packed, we were off. Our first stop was the rappelling spot. The fun had begun. For those of you who dont know, this is all about coming down a rock with the help of ropes. First to venture was Vineeth. He did the job well. It was time for the other group members. Among VG, Lachu and me, Lachu ventured first. After French Alps, this was peanuts for him. That instilled enough confidence in VG and me. I went up and tried my hands and but for a small slip I did a decent job. VG watched and learnt well, as he always does, and did a neat one. Then we got the first Har Ki Doon special, the Rhododendron juice. Tasted Good. It is made of the flowers of Rhododendron bushes. Then we headed for the next stretch. This was steep climb. We were being prepared for the dream trek. As is natural with me, nature was calling at an unnatural time. I headed to the top quickly and relieved my pressure in the bushes (acclamatization indeed ;-)). Lachu, VG and me did the downwards trek with Rampyari. By 15.00 we were back. Following a last minute shopping for raincoat (as always careful) I took bath. Post dinner we had the returning HD13 with us. After their certificate session, the MC of HD23 (myself) got into the act. Very simple, call the umpteen volunteers I had. After a long one of 1 hr, we split waiting for the trek to begin.

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