Bent, but not broken.
Bruised, but not battered.
Tired, but not down and out.
Stirred, but definitely not shaken.
We were at the summit till about 8:45 in the morning and we started our descent. Getting down was way easier and way quicker (of course). This one dog was behind us until the second base camp until he saw some people woo him and he dumped us for them.
While heading back, my cousins chose to slide down, prompting me to do so as well, but then I chose not to. Well, you may ask why so. I’ll tell you. Firstly, I was tired and did not want to stress myself over the fact that any stupid thing that I did while sliding down would injure me. Secondly, I tried to slide, tried very hard; could not do it. Third, I was the slowest of the lot and I did not want to waste any more time, as we had to reach Sankri before the moon smiled upon the land. Once we came back to our tents, hungry, all we thought about was food and only food. We rummaged the bags for any food that was there and whatever was untouched was duly
touched devoured. We sat down and reluctant to move even a bit. It felt like our legs were clamped to the ground and screeched to be left alone after long hours of continuous walking.
The sun was out and the snow was melting away and from the virgin snow, we came across the thin snow which was slowly getting consumed by the dirt below. Well, we saw a wall of white, a wall of brown and patches of white on brown or vice-versa. With the snow melting and the trail fading, at a point near the second base camp, we were in a fix on where the route to the base was.
Heads scratching, puzzled, we stood there. Time stood still, with us. Then… Erueeeeeka! While climbing, we noticed that there were ribbons tied to the trees and these ribbons were tied in a sequence to depict the path. Yes! we remembered at that moment and our heads went in a 360-degree motion to see the nearest tree which had the ribbon. The moment we saw, we ran towards it like a thirsty guy running towards an oasis. On the way, more sliding, more chattering about how stellar the peak was, more dawdling around. Oh! I almost forgot, just when we thought that our trek was smooth, we encountered a minor setback. My cousin who was sliding down twisted his ankle. He endured a vast chunk of physical pain and some scathing attacks from us on the carelessness while sliding. We were delayed. Delayed by a good couple of hours.
Then for the first time, my mind wavered. I questioned the path that we were taking and the reply was “Take a blind leap of faith and come. You will hit the base in no time”. Rigid as I was, questions were flowing like water from an ever leaking tap. Another assurance followed that we were on the right path and I followed quietly. Once we hit Sankri, only 2 things were on our minds; speak to our parents and get some sleep, I mean lots of sleep. Dinner that day was one that we will remember for a long time to come. The lady who offered us dinner ran a small hotel. She told us that she has scaled 29 peaks, has a masters degree in mountaineering. A real inspiration! Her food? Speechless. A memorable dinner indeed.
The next day, we took the last bus to Dehradun (8:30 AM). Reluctant to leave but we had to. Our travel to Kedharkanta gave us something different, something unique… We came as strangers, we left as one among them(the locals).
The mountains have taught me a lot of things, and I mean a lot! Hailing from the south of the country, I found it a lot harder than I thought. The notion of an “easy trek” as told by Mr.Google was almost jeopardized about 200 meters from the summit. Almost. The juxtaposition of firm mind and a tired body made it all the more difficult. Yet the summit was scaled, I was smiling at the mountains for they were smiling back at me for what I had done.
The mountains have taught me to be determined. If one is 200 meters from what is to be achieved, and he/she just gives up, there is no worth in that, the objective laughs instead of the person laughing with pride; nothing more than a laughing stock.
This trek has taught me to never underestimate anything. The word easy is easily a big misconception. After the trek, I told my parents that the trek was easy; it was… in a way that we completed it within 2 full days, but I had to also tell them the struggles that were served up as side dishes to the platter which was the trek. We came. We saw. We conquered.
Kedharkanta really is nature’s gift to man.