We reached Kathgodam railway station at 4:30am on a freezing morning, and were greeted by a fleet of five taxis, arranged by Indiahikes, waiting there to take all of us to the basecamp at Lohajung. The 10-hour journey from Kathgodam to Lohajung could only be completed via road, and we were pleasantly surprised at how well everything seemed to have been managed.
"Lohajung, as the locals say, is the place where Goddess Parvati had a war (jung) with the demon, Lohasur. Hence, the name, which translates to war with Lohasur." Interesting indeed.
We reached the base camp in the evening where we were allotted rooms for the night. Because there were three of us, we were allotted one room just to ourselves. The collective travelling in bus + taxi had ensured that a comfortable bed was the best thing in the world to us, and that's exactly what we got. That evening, we met our trek leader who took all the time in the world to try to do away with our last minute nerves, briefed us on what to expect on the first day of Brahmatal trek (on the morning after), and most importantly how Indiahikes was capable of taking care of us in case of any mishap. On that night I ate too well and spent the night puking. Would I be ready for it, I questioned myself again.
Lohajung to Bekaltal
If thought about in a different perspective, your life can be summed up as a collection of extraordinary moments. They can be either good or bad, but extraordinary nonetheless. You live for the extraordinarily good moments; you wait for them for prolonged periods of time and you prepare earnestly to earn them at the end of gestation. You try to avoid extraordinarily bad moments; again, you prepare even more earnestly to evade them. Both of them impact us and a handful of them alter us for life. Personally, I turned a new leaf in my life very recently by earning such an extraordinarily good moment, which definitely changed me beyond repair; and I experienced it at an altitude of 12,000+ feet on the summit of the Brahmatal trek (also spelled Brahma Tal trek) in Uttarakhand.
Bekaltal to Brahmatal
By the second morning, I had gained enough confidence and was feeling ready for the day's trek. That day, we'd be trekking mostly in snow, and I liked what I saw. There was not a soul around and virginal streams of water welcomed us at many places. The surroundings were sublime and I started thinking that the trek was not really a bad idea after all. Since there was no mobile network at all, I'd started socialising with fellow trekkers and most had interesting stories to share. While there was a 60-year-old man slowly but surely moving ahead, there was also a professional trekker who had climbed even Mt. Kilimanjaro! I was in some elite company. Our trek leader and his associates kept us engaged by narrating inspiring but relevant anecdotes so as to keep us going without thinking about what lay ahead. Crossing the splendid views of mountains and valleys all immersed in snow, we finally managed to reach our stunning basecamp in Brahmatal. By this time, I was more genial with everyone around as well as with myself. I took a stroll around the campsite and played several games with the fellow trekkers. The atmosphere was wonderful.
Brahmatal – Brahmatal Summit – Brahmatal
This was the day of the summit. There was excitement as well as pressure in my head, since I was still extra cautious so as not to pick up any injury along the way. This was going to be our last great ascent in the entire trekking itinerary and I really wanted to reach the summit now. Embark on a thrilling trek to Brahma Tal, click here to book. Fortunately on this day, the beauty of the route was enough to keep me going. Although the ascent was really tough some times, I had realised that if I was mentally prepared for it, I wouldn't give up. And I didn't. We had started earlier on that day and hence by noon we had reached the summit. The sense of achievement had surpassed the feeling of happiness by a mile. Had anybody told on the first day of the trek that I will reach the summit, I would not have believed him at all. But here I was, clicking celebratory pictures with my group and making merry quietly in my heart. I took out my Polaroid camera and clicked an instant picture on the summit because this was one moment I wanted to cherish forever.
Brahmatal to Lohajung
The mood at the camp on the fourth morning had become increasingly chirpy. People were throwing snowballs at each other and weren't even cribbing about waking up early in the morning in the punishing cold. The two reasons for it were – 1. It was the last day of the trek, 2. The trek was majorly descent only. The only issue was that we were scheduled to cover 8.5km in one go. That sort of a distance is massive on the mountains. Since it was mostly downhill, the knees were punished. But the strange sights and stories of the yore were motivating enough. The Indiahikes guys kept us engrossed by telling us mythical tales of the creator – Brahma – and how the Brahmatal Trek was named. There was even a tiny temple of the god at around 11,000 feet, which we visited. Although I'm an agnostic, I was even affected at such an altitude and circumstance. The places that we saw on our way back were of outworldly proportions and geography. There was a slippery stretch of melted ice where we were walking right on the edge of a mountain and beside it was a valley of no return. Everyone was more than helpful to everyone else and there was no envy, no pride involved. The concept of team building that I learned here, were never understood by me in my management classrooms or my workplace. Finally, after continuously struggling with my limbs for half a day, I got a whiff of the basecamp from where we originally started the trek. Even though there was still over an hour to the destination, just a sight of it was comforting enough to bring a sigh of relief. My feet surprisingly started moving faster and I was at the basecamp in no time then. I had never been happier at having achieved something in my uneventful life than I was at Lohajung that evening. I had come full circle; my first Himalayan trek was a success despite all the external and psychological adversities.