03 Nights / 04 Days
Day One & Two.
We set our sights on Dhakuri some 11 kilometres away. Under the shadow of Nandakot, on slopes too sharp to catch a foothold, the trail climbs towards Dhakuri pass at 9,300 feet. After a brief break, we decide to go on to Khati, it’sjust another eight kilometres away — the clouds had begun to gather in solemn masses, burying the splendour of the sun and it began to splitterjust as the little hamlet of Khati came into view. We ran, as if pursued by demons. And just in time too —for the skies opened up and the sound on the roof triumphed over the roar of the Pindar river. The last bit knocked us out— doing 19 kilometres is quite a bit and we were more than content with the sparsely furnished KMVN accommodation. But then, one hasn’t come thus far to look for creature comforts. Instead, in just two day sunder stand Kipling’s love for “the smell of the Himalayas — composed of rotting pine cones, damp wood-smoke and dripping undergrowth.” And bere dwell an agrarian people, depending solely on their terraced fields hacked out of precipitous mountains that yield little after much labour. But make no mistake. They may not be able to eat sunsets, but they are happy and content. A few improvements and life could be a little better.
Our bones were aching from the over-kill of yesterday, so we awoke at leisure. “Why should life all effort be?” I mumbled from memories of Tennyson’s Lotus Eater’s. But my companion was the Ulysses-type and it was all full of “To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield”. Leaving the fluid sounds of the Victorian poet-laureate behind us, it was time to look ahead at the maple-lined thickets en route to Dwali at 8,900 feet. Molten streams of quicksilver cascade in a multitude of waterfalls as one moves on towards Phurkia — the bungalow here is the last one along the way to Pindari Glacier. At dusk, walking through themeowing. It was a flying-squirrel gliding effortlessly from one tree to the other.
“Have you ever seen the Abominable Snowman?” she asked the Nepalese watchman.
“Metch Kangumi!.. the Yeti,” he told us, “I have seen it.” He was to elaborate as she coaxed the whole tale out of him. Apparently there are two types of
Once Upon a Time in Pindari Yeti — the smaller one feeds on humans while the other, the larger one prefers yaks. The Sherpas have you believe the yeti is a blood-curdling sight: half-human, half-beast with short brown hair and a pinkish face. He has two large prehensile toes and three smaller toes which are of great help to him in climbing to incredible heights. What they do up there, no one seems to know. But you’re assured that they wail through the night.
“But the Lidini is really dangerous,” maintained our garrulous chowkidar. “She has much longer hair and can run really fast.”
With visions of being chased by a Lidini. we were content to giveourselves up to the comfort of our sleeping-bags.
with three days behind us, our weary bones had, almost miraculously got used to it all. One felt like a professional trekker, all set to take on the last eight kilometres to the mouth of the glacier. There remained just another two-and-a-halil thousand feet to climb. At crack of dawn, we set out along the narrow trail. The ascent is steepertill one getsto around Martoli, where there is a small shrine to the goddess Nanda Devi. The all-powerful one who keeps a watchful eye on her devotees. Ice-bridges spanned the river and had to be crossed most ainaeriv. Breathing was hard on city-lungs and the diamond air of the mountains seemed to refresh one in a couple of breaths. Indeed, at place, the only loud sound was the thumping of our hearts. Six hours later, after a platitude of rests, we arrived at our destination and what a sight it was! The primal forces have been at work. The Great Sculptor had used his tools of ice to carve a deep gorge into the face of the mountain and the waters had done the rest. The magnificent peak of Nandakot reared to 22,500 feet above the glacier’s edge. It was a sight fit for the gods and one had no trouble understanding why the poets of ancient India waxed eloquent over the mystical beauty of the Himalayas.
But the clouds began to gather over the peaks and signalled us to go back before the rain drowned out all the euphoria of having-been-there. We turned around and headed back. Coming down the mountain, with a song in our hearts. We had made it. First a solitary drop, then another and it began to rain in earnest. Yet walking in the rain is pleasurable, if you are properly equipped like we were. Umbrellas and all. True, the trail was slippery, but by now we had our mountain-legs and wejust kept going...
The last magical evening in paradise was at Loharkhet Dak Bungalow. The next day jarred the senses. A prosaic bus from Song waited to take the traveller to distant Kathgodam. By now we’d trekked almost a hundred kilometres in six days and it was, I must admit, not really fun to be back amongst the madding crowds.
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