Dense vegetation as we continued made the climb worth every ounce of energy spent. It was about 45 minutes before we reached a small clearing where we could sit down and take our first break while the rest of the trekkers caught up. Oaks of different types : Green, Brown and Silver lined our trails. A few Pine trees provided the necessary blend to the picturesque topography. Finding perfect spots for pictures, the team was encashing every opportunity to break into a selfie or a group picture. Huffs and puffs from the previous days climb had turned into giggles and laughter. Soon enough we were back on the inclines of the trail. The trees provided excellent cover which helped all of us to conserve energy as we crossed the typical ups and downs of the trail.
An odd opening in the forest gave us a glance of Mt. Dronagiri and Haathi (Elephant), Ghoda (Horse) and Palkhi (Palanquin) peaks from afar. A relative sense of how much we had climbed, gave us a sense of achievement.
As Mt Dronagiri kept playing hide and seek amidst few lost clouds and the tree tops, stories about the huge mountain and its postulated mythological connection surfaced.
Legend has it, when Laxmana (brother of Lord Rama) was injured during the long war in Lanka, Hanuman was asked to fetch a herb that grew on Mt Dronagiri. On reaching the mountain Hanuman had found few herbs that looked similar so he decided to pick the entire mountain and carry it to Lanka. To further substantiate the story and connect a few missing dots, a mountain with similar geophysical properties has been found in Sri Lanka.
Throwing amused glances at the mountain we moved ahead pacing ourselves slowly ensuring we had enough energy to make it to the campsite. Targeted to reach around 2 pm we found ourselves doing much better than the previous day.
Our pauses turned into fairly long stops for refilling water from streams that sparkled and twisted between trees and small rocks to replenishing energy through energy bars. Knowing which streams were safe to drink out of and which were best left alone, was accurately executed by Khushalji our trek guide. He kept leading us with unfathomable amount of energy and stamina without a single breath going turning into a pant.
The scenes were beyond mesmerizing causing most of us to get lost in the sight so easily that time which otherwise plays an extremely vital role had lost all its so called magnanimous importance. Each passing cloud looked unique and every swaying tree had a story to tell. We wished we could have sit there a little longer but what lied ahead had its own allure.