The next highlight was the frozen lake!
Next day I woke early and started for our first camp site, Juda-ka-Talab, accompanied by my guide. We walked through meandering forest trails lined on both sides by huge pine trees, while the sun peek-a-booed through the branches. Who knew what lay nestled between those trees. Maybe , there was a little hamlet ,with a babbling brook cutting right through it. A grandma ,sitting by the fire place in her wood hut, knitting and narrating tales of times long gone- of adventures, misadventures, of dark nights & the morning sunshine. Between the Pine trees, somewhere , the magic Faraway Tree might be standing tall, home to Silky, the pixie and Moonface, the goblin. Or maybe, right now George, Dick, Annie, Julian and Timmy-the famous five were camping here, in the wilderness, in their caravan,with the gypsies. Who knew. The possibilities were endless.Oh by the way, did I forget to mention ? I had my own Timmy following hot on my trails, right from the start of the Trek at Sankri. Two others joined later ,on the way. I named them Sheroo and Bhaloo.Evening at the campsite came with hot soup and bonfire. The evening smelt of beautiful sunsets, snow and the stars. The night came with a blanket of stars twinkling overhead and a sudden drop of temperature. Sleep eluded me that night. The biting cold and the thrill of camping in the wild for the very first time in my life, kept me awake. After tossing and turning in my sleeping bag for a while, I gave up. I got up and took out my phone. The network had already gone dead by then. I got my headphones, went outside in the cold night, sat down under the stars and put on some romantic music. The moon shone down on the blanket of snow covering the ground. The lake, Juda-ka-Talaab on one side of my tent gleamed under the moonlight. On the other side of the campsite, the deep dense jungle ,lined by the pine trees, held the mysteries of the nights, between them. I sat there in complete silence for I don’t know how long, listening to my favourite songs on loop. Magic had befallen on my little world.
Sankri to Juda ka TalabThe day started with chilled morning, locals doing their daily works, mules passing by and lots Himalayan Bhutia dogs trying to get friendly with you. Post breakfast we started our trek from the local Sankri road entering into the local trails and then dissolving into the forest of broad leaves trees. The path goes through Saud village which is a gentle climb. A lot of locals mostly women and children will be seen on the way carrying wood and dried leaves for their cattle. Walking trails of this day will be steep sometimes and sometimes it will be leveled grounds with green and dense forests running along with you. End of the day we set our campsites which is located near to Juda Ka Talab and is a closed camping site surrounded by tall pine and oak trees and mountain slopes. We reached the campsites by afternoon and stayed in camps enjoying the serenity scattered around this place with evening sunset and glittering sunrise in the morning.
(Sankri to Juda ka Talab 4 km)We started at 9 AM for the trek. The first campsite is Juda ka Talab which is around 4 km away from Sankri. The trek is easy but it’s little steep so it took around 3-4 hours for us to reach Juda ka Talab. There is a tea point after a km from Sankri where a food shop is there. Juda ka Talab campsite is surrounded with pine trees all around and the lake is normally frozen in the winters. Normally, the area around Juda ka Talab lake is occupied by various travel agencies so if someone is looking to camp by himself then he’ll have to camp some distance away from the lake.
9100ft | -12°CArrival at the first camp was mesmerizing, a patch of flat land surrounded by snow-capped pine trees. The frozen lake besides the campsite and the best part : Tents pre-set for us to retire in after hot delicious meal and Tea. That kind of food isn't expected with those resources and climate, but no denying, it was as good at being served on your dining table at home.