It was almost after walking for 28 km, at nine thousand something ft, in the middle of the route, when the sun started hitting direct and hard. The wind was blowing fast enough to push me to the edge of the 2 ft wider path that falls down into the river, roaring and flowing opposite to my direction. In spite of the fact that there was no human or even animal visible on the trail for miles, I was not really thinking of what can be the prospects of walking alone but the question that hit me through between all that is why am I travelling? Where is it that I want to reach? Do I really have to come this far? What exactly am I looking for? Will I be able to get out of my system and be free for a while? The thing I realized at that point of time is, I didn't know anything apart from the fact that I was really really really feeling this need to walk and walk and walk and just keep on walking no matter if I ever reach somewhere or not.
Since I belong to Uttarakhand I would rather skip the Delhi to Munsiyari hurdle. I reached Munsiyari post lunch and the weather was pretty cloudy and windy. In order to trek in the upper Himalayas around that range, you need to have a permit. So, as soon as I got off the taxi, I went straight to the SDM court and began the required procedure. You don’t really need to do anything but tell them about your intent to go on the trek to Milam glacier and Nanda Devi base camp ( It’s just one mountain in between Milam and Nanda Devi ) and the concerned person will write the application and add the required papers. You just need to give him three photocopies of your identity card and three photographs and rest will be done. The application was sent in the court and I went out to eat something which could be nothing but Shikhar-Bhaat ( Mutton is called shikar in Pahad ). As high as you go in the hills you really need to try that taste. It was almost 1500 hours when I got the permit signed by the court.
Now there will be three copies of the documents, one will be kept at the SDM office, the second, you will have to submit at the ITBP base, Munsiyari, to inform them about your plan and the third will be with you, signed by SDM and the Officer in charge at ITBP. That will be your permit to go ahead, which you later have to show on the route on three different check posts of ITBP and mark your entry and exit. So if there is any rescue situation, they would know where to look for you. While I was doing all that, there was a group of few boys heading out to the trek already and I also had the same plan to cover some 5km by the time it gets dark, which I had heard to be done by a friend who went on with his group a week ago. But because till the time I got the signed permit, it was already 1630 hours and it was raining. I had no idea of the route and since I was going alone, I decided to stay at Munsiyari for the night. I head back to the KMVN TRH, as I knew someone there as I was already there an year ago.
The Guest House was full. All rooms were occupied but he arranged a bed for me in the dormitory. As I entered the room I could not be much happier as it reminded me of two things, the first was that I am a boarding school kid and secure the best memories of my life from those years, memories I can live my life with and second, the guest house was built in British era which reminded me of my childhood again. I was born and spent my childhood in hills, in a Government institution and campus, established long back during the colonization. I have always been fond of the kind of architecture they had, the windows, beds, mirror, walls, roof, flooring, everything. There were 8 beds and with the very first look I knew which one I had to choose and it was next to the window.
It was raining outside and I went out in the reception, had tea, talked to people and gained the knowledge about the route and did my homework because I had no idea about it other than what I had heard from people and searched on the internet as much as I could. There were few maps on the wall which I looked into and memorised.
So the trek actually starts from Chillamdhar, 11km away from the Munsiyari main town. There are few vehicles that go there. I talked to a taxi guy, got his number and confirmed the timing to be 0600 hours in the morning, at the taxi stand. That evening I wanted to read something but unfortunately I didn’t have any book. But when you are on your own god takes care of everything for you and this time he sent a writer, a fellow traveller in the same dorm and then the night turned into a poetic session.