Day 5 — Chhota Dara — Chhatru
We set off at 0730 in the morning to catch the hard snow. It is much easier to walk on hard snow as we would not sink into the snow.
All packed and ready to go!
The valley we came from
The sun was shining brightly on my back. I officially hate snow now. The rays reflect on the snow literally and bake you from all directions. As the sun was out, the snow started to melt. With each step, the snow cracked and our feet would sometimes sink into the snow. It was kinda irritating as it was random. You never know when you will sink in!
I did not apply sun block while at Friendship Peak and all of us thoroughly learned our lesson. Although the sun was not shining directly on you, you could still get sun burnt. As such, I took out my sun block and applied thoroughly on my face.
Face full of sunblock
Not a single cloud in the sky
It was going to be a long walk and it was really uncomfortable. There wasn’t a single cloud in the sky. It was warm, but I couldn’t take out my layers to cool myself down because I would get sun burnt. It was a conflicting situation. Should I get comfortable but get sun burnt and suffer in the town? Or should I suffer a little here and be more comfortable in the town? Delayed gratification is always much harder, but I made a conscious effort to choose to be more comfortable in the town.
It was really a monotonous walk. On top of that, it was really tiring. I had to keep myself occupied. I guess that the best way to pass time was to try and apply some of the methods I read in Stephen Covey’s book! True learning only happens when you are able to apply.
The first habit was about being proactive: I was being proactive by rephrasing my thoughts. My initial thoughts were something like “I can’t stand the heat and snow.” Indeed, the heat and snow are not in my circle of influence and I couldn’t possibly do anything physically to change my surroundings. But I could improve my situation by changing what I think about it, after all, Marcus Aurelius mentioned that “nothing outside the mind can disturb it and that all disturbances in us are merely the opinions we form of external factors.” As such, I came up with solutions that could solve this problem. Amongst those solutions, I made a conscious effort to choose to do it or not, and through that, I accepted the consequences and was happy with it because I chose!
The second habit was about beginning with the end in mind: Well this is simple isn’t it? I want to go back to Manali and have my butter chicken!!!
The third habit was putting first things first: This was a bit of a stretch for an application but I believe it still somewhat applies. The only task I had at that time was to get to Manali, so there wasn’t really a need to “put first things first” as there was only one thing. I broke the trip back to Manali to a few phases and each phase was the main focus at that particular time. It is sort of having multiple “ends”.
In summary, Mountaineering builds your character. A monotonous task of walking for 10 hours is not easy at all. You need to keep your mind active while walking! We sometimes need to come to terms with our situation and convert it into a positive environment.
Just us and the mountains
Three empty patches, remnants of our previous camp
We passed familiar places on the way back and realised that the terrain has changed. As expected, there were rock falls and avalanches during the rest day. Some of the roads that we took had fresh fallen rock. That was clear evidence that we should never ever move after heavy snow.
The same mountains look different on the way back. It’s sort of like a different perspective. I don’t remember certain mountains being that beautiful on the way there, but they stood out on the way back. There’s always something different on the same road!
Rock fall. This wasn’t here when we came
A sliver of light touching the top of the mountain
The clouds have appeared!
A precariously thin snow bridge
A shiny mountain
A shiny mountain, with the sun and clouds
We arrived at Chhatru after a long… 8 hour walk? We set up camp in the middle of the road as it was the only ground around us. Everywhere else was snow. We saw a fox run by but couldn’t take out our cameras in time to catch a picture of it. The kitchen crew made french fries as a snack and I was in a bit of a dilemma. We knew that the potatoes were contaminated with kerosene, but these french fries tasted delicious! I could not taste any kerosene.
That left us with 2 possibilities: The potatoes are fine, or the kerosene evaporated during deep frying. I guess we would only know during dinner! We gobbled the fries up in any case as we were hungry and it tasted great!
P.S. The potatoes during dinner had kerosene 🙁
Our camp at Chhatru, with a waterfall in the background
Camping in the middle of the road
Sunset view from the tent