Day 4 — Manali — Training Camp
Today is the day we head for Training Camp, where the training starts. The day when we throw back everything from Singapore and enter the mountains.
Waking up, I tell myself that this would be the last day in civilisation for a long while. Sitting on the toilet seat to take my customary early morning dump, I ponder how many days would I be squatting to relieve myself rather than to sit.
We gathered our stuff and set off towards the starting point of our journey at Solangdala. From there, we set off. We were taking the usual route and unknowingly walked into a camp for the builders of a tunnel project. The guards stopped us and chased us out of the premises. The local guides were surprised and tried to negotiate some passage for all of us, but to no avail. Nevertheless, we took a detour and found ourselves walking up a steep hill, which was quite strenuous.
Ozgun looking prepared; Javier seems to be crying
We were way ahead of the horses as we set off earlier and were walking at quite a fast pace. As such we had to take multiple breaks to allow the horses to catch up. The breaks were quite boring and we wanted to move as soon as possible. At one of the breaks, we saw horses approaching and were elated! Our happiness turned into disappointment when the horses turned out to be a group of “Ang Moh’s” who were riding the horses for recreation. I guess we had to wait a little longer.
Further down, we cut through a rocky region to avoid going a bigger round along the main road. We did this very often as humans are much more agile as compared to vehicles and horses and most important of all, it saves us time and effort. This particular rocky path was interesting, as it was filled with rubbish from a seemingly empty shack. The residents of that shack were possibly workers working on the projects in the vicinity. As we carried on down, we walked by areas that were prone to landslides, and areas that were struck by landslides, and were reminded about the might of nature.
“Walk fast and always look up for signs of loose rock”
Then the road just seemed to stop. We started walking off road, on rocks, and came across a raging river that we had to cross. So how’d we do it? We found a log which was lying precariously on both sides of the riverbank and walked slowly but steadily on the log. Simple. Then, we started seeing the landscape change dramatically. From the initial green and somewhat sandy roads we were once on, to the snowy mountainous regions that spread out before us. We carried on to a clearing and sat down for lunch, while we saw the horses (this time carrying our supplies) slowly trot pass us. Then, when we set off to reach the Training Camp, we were joined by 2 dogs: one majestic brown dog that resembled a mastiff; and the other a white sleek looking dog that resembled a fox. These 2 dogs followed us towards our Training Camp.
First obstacle – river crossing
Just before arriving at Training Camp, it started raining. This was made worse by the fact that we had to cross a snow bridge that had very uneven terrain and was very slippery. The horses could not move through the area. This was as far as the horses could go and we had to carry the baggage manually. Fortunately, the horses stopped close to the site. We could bring the baggage down with relative ease in spite of the insane weight of the baggage. Cold rain drops were drizzling on us as we were carrying our bags and setting up our tents. Most of our things got wet.
To prevent our belongings from becoming totally soaked, we had to pitch our tents fast, and it was not an easy task. We first had to flatten the ground (or snow in this case), which was not as easy as we thought it would be. The rain drops were also irritating and the cold wind was getting unbearable. We pitched the first tent really quickly and threw all our things into it immediately to prevent them from becoming wetter. We went back into the rain to pitch our
tents homes for the next few days.
First tent up!
All tents up! Take note of all the snow around us
Once all the tents were up, we went in for some warmth and packed our things. We had dinner at about 1900 hours and had some chicken (probably our last meat dish in awhile) to eat, which was tasty. After dinner, we had some hot drinks in the dining tent. Once we were done with our drinks, we all went back to our tents for some rest. Little would I know that in that night, my tent mate would regurgitate all his food out. Ahh but that’s another story to tell for the brave souls. It deserves an entire post on it’s own.