Saturday, April 27, 2013

Let's March!!! - A Trek to Dodi Tal - Part 2

The previous part can be found here.
17th March, 2013
I woke up at 6.30 in the morning. And what a wonderful way to wake up - with a cramp in my left calf! It was funny in a way, because I never recognized the fact that I had a calf or two, I mean, not with the same level of importance imparted to organs like kidneys, the cerebrum, or the appendix. Painful recognition that was, but one that did not last long (thankfully), and I cautiously crept out of the tent to be greeted by some morning tea. It was very cold that morning, with the tall hills blocking out the sun rays till about 8.30. It does not help that the Bebra camp site is set in a valley surrounded by hills on all sides.

Preparations galore.
As luck would have it, a forest official walked in and warned us not to do the trek. He sat around for some time in the small room above the camp. Kishan kept pointing out to him that people have already trekked along this stretch a few days back. He wasn't convinced, but finally yielded after I wrote a disclaimer claiming that we alone are responsible for our safety. I wonder what he was after (guess, guess)!

After breakfast, we headed out by around 10 O clock. The climb was a bit steep (nothing deadly) for the first 30 minutes. My legs were holding up well (I had sprayed pain killers liberally over them).

Flevy with her stroll-in-the-park look.

The camp site at Bebra that you can notice toward the bottom of the pic gives you a sense of the elevation gain.
This is the view after you cross the first round of elevation. There was too much light, playing the spoilsport (for the pictures i.e.).

Somewhere around here, Tata Docomo phone lines came active. It was a major hold-up of sorts for the trek, as people made calls back home updating them of what was happening. It was fair enough, as we wouldn't have the chance to talk to anyone over the next 3 days. Even Bebra did not have cell phone coverage.
The trek was a breeze so far with a bit of moderate climb throughout. At some point, our porters started off on a steep shortcut. I firmly refused to follow suit and continued on the trail, as I have had bad experiences with shortcuts in the past. Like they say, the shortcut is often the longest cut.

Here's our tribute to Guns N Roses, Dodital style!
We walked for an hour or so before the next round of elevation gain began. The first batch of people in the distance at some height.

The picture below was taken by the folks up there, from the top. We were the second batch, while the third was nowhere to be seen. BTW, this looked like a serious elevation gain, but frankly it ended with a whimper, not with a bang.

We waited/walked slowly for the third contingent to arrive. For all our patience, unbeknownst to us, the third batch had taken the steep shortcut, and had reached the pitstop 30 minutes before the first batch. 

Here's pic of batch 3 players climbing up the short cut. I'm told it was a tough climb.  But it had its positives, coz some who climbed that tough trail would find nothing that lay ahead more difficult. 

That said, I have to repeat a quote from a previous blog: "2 baje ki Rajdhani pakdni thi kya?"

Here's us having lunch at the pitstop. This is almost the halfway point on the trek to Manjhi. We had carried packed lunches from the Bebra camp. The package contained poories, sabji, a banana, and pickle.
 Every meal needs some serious backdrop - it's a thing for us.

The trail up from Manjhi (a km or two) should be trekked with caution as you may face the risk of falling stones. We  made it to the other side without incidents.

Looking back at the day, I can only say pedestrian stuff like, "the views were stunning"; or "it was just awesome"; but you just had to be there physically to appreciate the magnitude of scenarios that unfolded with every step.

Look, look, a mountain!
 First snows on the way to Manjhi!
There were a lot of minor interruptions en route. There was a genuine query from a trekker about falling trees and branches and associated safety risks. The answer to that question was also genuine and spot on. It's there in the video below this picture.

Soon, a slight drizzle started and we brought out the jugaad ponchos (plastic cover-alls in this case) we had picked up from Uttarkashi for a princely sum of 25 Rupees apiece. Had it rained hard, they would have been a disaster. (Note the point, your honor, if you want to trek in these parts.) Soon the drizzle stopped, but it had the intended cooling effect. Slight drizzle changed to slight snowfall - a first for a lot of us. Here's a short video of the proceedings, with a bit of banter.


During the second half of the day's trek, we encountered some tricky patches of snow. This was just a minor dress rehearsal for the next day's trek.

We reached the Manjhi campsite by around 4 in the evening.

And FYI - the guy who had gone all the way back to Uttarkashi in the morning for reinforcements  came back 30 minutes after we reached (all the way from Bebra to Sangamchatti, and Sangamchatti to Bebra and Manjhi). He must have trekked like an arrow in slow motion.
Like the Chinese in disputed islands in South China Sea (or even Aksai Chin), we have a way of marking our territory. Satya hoisting the company flag! Some of us, did a lot more in canine fashion.
 Miffed at the puny campfire the previous night, we decided to take the business into our own hands. And boy, we proved good at it!
It's all about gender equality - bringing firewood. We brought enough branches and firewood that evening to burn the whole of Manjhi down.

 Some of us who went for reconnaissance in the evening found impressions of a rather peculiar species in snow.

Keeping Kishan's advice about moderation in mind, I decided to be the bartender. It was such a bad idea. 
Rule no 1. the bartender shouldn't drink. Broken. (proof in the pic below)
Rule no 2. the bartender  shouldn't chew dried buffalo meat. Broken. (proof in literature to follow)
Rule no 3. the bartender  shouldn't break rule no 1.
A few more rules were broken that night, and we can forgive everything. But, by the time the night was over, we would have a teetotaler drinking away. Now, that ain't fair. 
Warming up!
More stuff getting warmed up!
That night happened to be Liji's birthday, and she got a surprise in the form of a birthday cake brought all that way from Bangalore (thanks to some of her colleagues). Huddled over a warm campfire, inches away from thick sheets of snow, we celebrated her birthday and almost sang the whole night away.

Rumble in the Jungle
While walking back to the tent for a good night's sleep, I should have been a happy man. My cramp had not resurfaced during the day. And my gut instincts told me that the team was fighting fit to easily take on Dodi Tal the next day, should snow conditions permit. But I was still worried, coz there was a catch. My gut instincts also told me another thing - that I had a real problem with my gut! In the tent that night, listening to the occasional snore or two, and trying to ignore a violent tummy, I wondered what could have gone wrong. My constitution is pretty strong, and I can usually eat any crap that comes my way without affecting my internal ecosystem. And at some point during that fateful cold night when the zipper of my sleeping bag would also stop working leaving me shivering and exposed, I realized the answer had three words - dried buffalo meat. All the jokes that I had made about wet wipes and tissues (about them being too sissy), during the trip meetings back in office, officially came back to haunt me. As the Indie programer might have said in Matrix Revolutions, diarrhea is a word, just like karma. 

My conclusion about the source of the anomaly was reinforced the next day morning by another trekker who had binged on buffalo meat. Together, we coined a new term for high-altitude-diarrhea (HAD):  Dodi BellyA word of advice for people going on long treks - do not try anything holistically new!

Part 3 could be found here.


  1. The pictures tell me it was an amazing trek up..what a lovely experience for all..!