Three holidays in a row and no plans made me more sad. From past three years, every single day in college has been a life changing day which has changed my life for better and helped me become a person I am today. "This long monotonous weekend is going to get the crap out of me" , I thought. Suddenly, to interrupt my trail of thoughts, a friend called up to ask if I want to accompany a group of people going for Triund trek. I thought for a moment and agreed. In an hour, we left for Shimla which was just an hour away from college. We reached Shimla, bought some food for the way and started for Dharamsala at 9:30 pm. Shimla never looked so beautiful at night before. We reached Dharamsala at 6:00 in morning.
The colors of the morning sky made me adore the beauty of Dharamsala more. We took a cab from there and left for Dharamkot. Dharamkot is a small yet beautiful place. You will be so badly enchanted by this small place's natural beauty that you will find it hard to go back from there. No wonder why Dalai Lama lives there. We stopped at a guest house for two-three hours to change and rest before starting the trek. I was so excited to know more about this little world that I got ready and left to explore it all by myself. I got into conversation with few localites and learnt how life is for them on mountains. To add cherry to my cake, I played cricket after a pretty long time with kids there. I spoke to them about there "big plans" and learnt about so many small things we miss in life because of our busy schedules. They were a complete treat to talk with. We did breakfast at a small in-budget restaraunt "Trek & Dine" which was not only beautiful but also offered super yummy food. We eight people started our trek at 11:30 am from Dharamkot. As I kept walking and climbing through the beautifully and naturally made stone roads and mountains, I felt a weird peace inside which was calming me like when a crying baby sleeps on listening the humming sound of her mother. The natural sound of the wind, trees, stones, birds, water, leaves etc were so clear and enchanting that together they formed a tune hard to get off your mind. You really don't need anyone to go on trek with. Everyone was helping out each other and sharing their experiences. Even I made new friends on the way. It was a completely different world.
After four hours of continuous trek, we finally reached the destination - TRIUND. No doubt, it was a beautiful place with awestruck natural beauty. The opposite mountain to Triund was moon peak from where you can see Milky Way galaxy and two hour further trek from triund leads to a glacier known as Ilaka glacier. I sat on a cliff there with my legs hanging out in air several feet above the ground. I wasn't scared of the height at that moment, instead sitting there, I was lost again in my trail of thoughts. I could think more clearly now. I collected my thoughts, sorted them and tried to find the answers of questions I have been searching for so long. Fresh air was helping me breath in a way that I never did before. It was out of the world feeling. I would have never wanted to go back from there. But like there is no fun in driving a car on a road without speed brakers, likewise there is no fun in making memories without an adventure. We were waiting for the other four group members who were kilometers away then to reach. We had maggi, fried rice and tea meanwhile. We thought of putting the camp once the others reach too. The weather suddenly started changing. One thing I learned then was the weather of Himachal is like a girl's mood, it changes when you least expect it to and it can change any moment without any danger sign. There were clouds and soon enough it started raining. We took shelter in a shop. The rain soon converted into a hail storm. We were worried because weather was getting worse every moment and four members of our group were still out. We couldn't do anything other than waiting because you don't get network throughout the trek. This was the best and worst part both. The reason why I agreed for trek was because I wanted to take an off from materialistic world for a day or two and be at peace with no mobile network, no entertainment means, no perks of life, just the nature around. I wanted to be all by myself for some time. We waited and waited and suddenly there was a knock on the door and we hoped it to be them and to our surprise- IT WAS THEM. I had never been so happy before to see them. We didn't know there was a bigger problem coming our way.
It started snowing outside. An hour ago what was all green, was now covered with white snow. The owner of the shop where we took shelter asked us to return as soon as possible. But the sun had already set and to go back in dark was not an option because the way was steep and because of snow, now it was slippery too. One wrong step and we could loose our lives too. It taught me how much patience you need in adverse situations to take wise, bold and quick decisions. We decided to stay back. The owner asked us to find shelter somewhere else because they wanted to leave for their homes ad close the shop. According to them, every year, it snows like this once and when it does, roads are blocked and many people are killed because of cold and no basic necessity things are available to help them. We searched for a shelter in a small hut like cave. We used the matrices to form the base of the cave and sleeping bags as blankets. We found few twigs and woods which could do the work of bonfire for few hours. We hid our bags on one side of the cave and tried to divert our mind by talking with each other, listening to songs etc. The chances of our survival were less since we had food left only for a day, limited drinking water, no wood for lightening fire to keep us warm, moreover our shoes were wet because of walking in snow, temperature was falling every second and it was continuously snowing for hours now, so the level of snow was increasing. The sound of wind which was appearing peaceful while climbing was now scary and gave goosebumps. We still somehow kept our hopes up. Two people from our group went uphill in guest house to ask for shelter for a night. A troop from DU agreed on giving us a corner in the small cottage, enough for us to sit. We took a small bag which had some food, two sleeping bags, out of which one was half wet because of snow and left. As soon as we stepped out of that cave, there was something that caught our attention and we froze for a moment. In the dark night, when it was still snowing, I could see whole Dharamsala on one side beautifully lighted up, trying to tell us - Stay strong and be brave, Everything will be okay. I kept looking at it for few minutes. I wanted to capture the moment in my eyes and heart for forever. The storm had started again and we had to rush. We started uphill for the guesthouse. In that deadly night too, the snow glowed like a beautiful devil mesmerizing me with her beauty. Mountains covered with white shining snow looked flawless and walking in that snow uphill gave me a feeling as if I am a character from the movie "Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani" walking away from the others secretly to visit Bhairav Nath's hidden temple. It was all so dramatic, dreamy yet beautiful. That moment was so full of life that it filled me with a weird motivation and I somehow felt like- NO, This is not the end.
We stayed in the cottage whole night. We five people who were in one cottage had one raw cuppa mania and one bread and mayonnaise for snacks, dinner and breakfast. We were very hungry but that was all we had. At that point, we were not bothered about washing our hands before eating, or brushing teeth or not picking up bread crums and eating them if they fell on ground, what all mattered at that point of time was to survive, anyhow. It felt like Bill of Man vs Wild for a moment. It was the longest night for all of us. The oxygen level was decreasing, so was the temperature outside, wind was hitting the windows as if someone was throwing stones from outside to break the windows to get in. After this chilly sleepless night, finally it was morning. It was still snowing and we didn't know what to do. Everybody was leaving and we decided to leave too. Our shoes were wet for a day now and I couldn't feel my feet anymore. They were numb. We were hungry, tired, too weak to walk, but giving up now was not an option.We had come too far and now when we were almost about to make it, we couldn't just give up. We packed our stuff and got ready. There were three people who worked in Delhi, who had trekked earlier and who accompanied us and helped us cross the snow mountains. I fell thrice while getting down. It was scary and dangerous because one side it was mountains and the other side abyss, the way was covered with slippery snow, one wrong step and you are done. It took us a long time to cover downhill but the faith that we'll make it now, kept us going. Once we reached Dharamkot, each of us was filled with different motivation. We survived something we thought we never would. To see life and death so close was a big experience. This was how a monotonous weekend turned out to be an adventure and full of experiences worth sharing. I would definitely like to go to the place again which taught me so much, filled me with a unique motivation and helped me find a way through the different confusions of my life. The most important thing was it made me feel alive. So Yes ! We experienced and we survived.
Oriah Mountain Dreame wrote correctly -
"It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for – and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing. It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool – for love – for your dreams – for the adventure of being alive."