Monday, January 11, 2010

Weekend in McLeodganj@ Day 2

Impromptu trek to snow at Triund: The next morning Shambhu told us it had snowed in Triund. Wow! Wish Sanjay had asked for something more! We decided then we just had to trek up to Triund no matter what. We packed a bag with some food, water, torch and clothed ourselves in layers.

But first, we needed to have a good breakfast for the climb. So we headed to town to Llamo’s Croissants. Another cheery place; it has two tiny levels with a balcony. You eat your breakfast on low mattresses and tables. Grab a book and dig into bowls of muesli with curd (sour if I may say so); carrot cakes; hot croissants, chocolate donuts and eggs with fresh juice or tea/coffee. The breakfast is delicious and you can watch all sorts of people.

Triund is about 24 km from McLeodganj. Since we had one day, we were going to cover half the distance by car. The road is narrow and bumpy. A local taxi dropped us at the midpoint where there is a temple and a tiny tea shop. Only trails from here and we began our climb waved off by a local couple. It was 11 in the morning and we were running late. We had about 7 hours at the max. To go up and be back before sunset-after which the temperature drops considerably and the paths and stones become unsafe due zero lighting.

The first half an hour went quickly; but I began to feel my breath puff as we climbed higher. For some time I slowed my pace and then learnt to perch my feet on stone edges and breathe in tune to the climb. Another hour gone by; and it began to drizzle. We saw a tea stall in a distance; there are precisely 2 (next to each other) on this entire route. Our pace quickened and we took shelter under plastic sheet roof. We met a group of 3 friends (a Canadian, American, and German) and shared tea, cookies and conversation. Once the rain slowed we were off again. The trek up is scenic with rich green trees and bright red and pink flowers. The city is below you in a distance and there are stretches where you see no one but yourself.

I was tiring at around 2 and thinking of going back down. Sanjay, however, insisted that we could do this and we must! He pointed out to the snow nearby and then said: “it is just an hour and a half more, and I promise we will have maggi at Triund”. How does one refuse an offer like that? So with a deep breath we set off; I admit was nervous that most people at this point were coming down.

The climb became tougher as we had to climb over rocks versus walking on stone filled trails. The snow made it a slippery and slow climb.  Digging shoe heels and fingers in the snow, we finally reached up at about half past 3. And what an achievement it felt like! Triund was almost a snow field. No civilization except a tiny Daak-house and a tea stall. Someone had made a statue and a snowman. We sat and enjoyed our maggi and tea with the snow people. Soon it was time to head back. The tea stall owner told us we must head down fast and wished us luck.

Down we went; this being tougher than we had anticipated. We were tired from our climb and the pressure to be back down before sunset was constantly on our mind. We prayed for no rain and continued our descent. Luck was on our side, and the clouds cleared for some sun. Having a stick can help considerably as you put less pressure on your knees. We climbed and walked the same trail- seemingly longer. No stop for tea this time. It took us almost 4 hours to reach the point where we had started off- a little longer than our climb up. Thankfully, the taxi driver was waiting and we heaped into it.

It was pretty dark by now but we decided to head to town and not Udeechee for dinner. What don’t we do for good food joints, I tell you! We dragged our almost collapsing legs to Carpe Diem – a place which serves all kinds of yummy food. Carpe Diem means “seize the day”; it is from a famous Latin poem and also the slogan of a group of Middle Ages Knights. How cool is that? Sanjay opted for a Tibetan version of Pad Thai and I think I ate hummus and pita bread. The food was great and we very hungry. Between that, though, I did notice that the place has interesting décor and people. All tables have glass tops under which people have left some mementoes like pictures, comments on tissue paper, a map!

Done with dinner we took an auto back to Udeechee and crashed into bed after a hot shower. Shambhu kindly gave us 2 hot water bags. We slept with those plus our own electric heating pad tucked under legs and backs!

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