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A Summer in Parbati Valley, Himachal Pradesh.
Trekking in Chandrakhani Pass.
The YHAI organised trekking expedition in Kulu, Himachal.
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  Kyon Chintha dharthi yadi choti hai, sara aasman hai udne ke liye(Why worry if the earth is small, you have the whole sky to fly) -- What a wonderful quote and this coming from a 66 year old trekker Mr. Tiwari (more about him later) in Seobag base camp.

Himalayan Range in Parbati Valley

May be it was the surrounding mountains and the flowing Beas, which made the difference. After the jog Tek Chand took us through some exercises (which I realized later, was quite helpful).

  On coming back to the camp, we had to clean up the campsite and have our breakfast. (This continued even in the subsequent camps).

  Later at around 10 O'clock we gather for acclimatization. We choose one of us Mr. Suresh as the group leader and Guru as co-leader. All of us with 2 woolen blanket each in our backpack start to climb along with our camp leader Ranade. After about an hour of steady climb, everybody is huffing and puffing, and as if as a reward for our effort we reach a huge waterfall. We take rest and after sometime we all sit in a circle and start introducing ourselves. We had among us Bank Of Maharashtra employees (some as old as 50 years) and a few from Delhi. After the initial introduction Ranade starts briefing us about Youth Hostel, its activities in general and Chandrakhani Pass trek in particular. As we were listening Gautham nudges at me and shows a beautiful bird with long tail, which I had seen only in Salim Ali's "The Book Of Indian Birds". It was Paradise flycatcher, not single but a pair. I was thrilled and before I get over the excitement of seeing it for the first time we see hordes of juveniles and adult pairs flying around. I say to myself, my day is made already!! . Coming back to Ranade I find him quite a gentleman. A school teacher with a passion to trek, his humility touched me. He warned us how as we go higher, the camp leaders, for the fact that they had to stay for weeks with not much company, might be bit jittery. After listening to other advices we start our climb down to the base camp.

  At the base camp we get to know that we have the rest of the day free and in case we have any last minute purchasing to do we can get it done from Kullu. After lunch we prepare our list and give it to Jitesh and Abhishek.

  That is when we hear about one gentleman a 66 year old who had done Har ki Dhun trek and now had just arrived from Chandrakhani and as if this was not enough, was getting ready for Sar Pass in the next few days (all 11-13 day treks). We had to meet him. After lunch while coming back to the tent I saw Guru, Gautham, Bala all talking to an elderly person. Presuming that he was Mr. Tiwari, I also approached him. First thing that struck me was his humility. Here is a guy who has been trekking for more than 40 years now and he says that he is like everybody else, learning from every trek that he does. As I think about it I realize it is indeed true, that is what trekking is all about. We lose track of time as we listen to his experiences and before we know, it is dinnertime. After dinner there is campfire (a rather boring affair according to me) and then we get back to our tents for a good night's rest.

Splendour of Mountains Day 2: Again the same routine. 5:15 AM bed tea, morning jog, exercises and breakfast. Today was meant to be for rock climbing, rappelling and river crossing. Morning 8 O'clock saw us starting for rock climbing and rappelling. We learn from Tek Chand the uses of 'bille'(belay), carabiner, harness etc. Everyone then started climbing the rock by turns. Rappelling was more challenging and enjoyable. By the time everyone finished, it was 11:30 and we go back to the base camp.

As we finish our lunch rain starts pouring. Thinking that our after session of river rafting has gone for a toss we all go into our tents to have some cozy sleep. But our camp co-leader Jagjith Singh has other ideas and we soon hear the whistle (by now we are getting used to the whistles J and getting a bit irritated too). We reluctantly get up and put on our shoes. We come to know now that river crossing is not across the river but a gorge! . Any way we start climbing up in rain and reach a place where the gorge is wide enough to get a feel of river crossing. After some of us complete the crossing rain starts pouring more heavily and Tek Chand decides it is enough as the rains will make the ropes hard and make it riskier to use for crossing. Climbing down in rain, as we find, is easier said than done. Even with the hunter shoes on, with the mud sticking to the sole, you tend to slip. One wrong step and you go straight down the hill. We make a slow progress down and on reaching the camp we are greeted with hot tea. Rest of the day we spend in packing for the actual trek. Ranade tells us, and quite rightly, to carry only one pair of additional clothing and sweater, gloves for cold. Even after stingily cutting down on all unnecessary things my backpack seems a bit heavy, what with the photographic paraphernalia. Evening we lodge things, which we are not carrying on the trek, in a room near the camp. We have our dinner and go to sleep, excited and dreaming about the next day when we start the real trek.

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