Date: Somewhere around Feb 1st week, 2018
A colleague in my office came back after his trek from Uttarakhand. The trek was Chandrashila and he was explaining about his adventures and experiences of the trek. Looking at his pictures and videos somehow subconsciously I made up my mind to go for that trek. He was showing all the beautiful snow pictures of the Himalayan mountains and I was seeing such a thing for the first time in my life. It was all too attractive even to believe it was real! I instantly began browsing and reading more about this trek and that place. Soon after my research I found Indiahikes as the first website when searching for Himalayan treks and concluded on them after reading all their reviews.
There was no thought going on in my mind as to ask my friends or anyone else for that matter. Okay, I told my parents I was going with a group of my friends (Sorry amma :P). I told them I had went solo after I came back from the trek, all was well .Within 1-2 days blindly I just booked for their trek and with the help of their trek co-ordinator’s help I got all details on how and where to reach, and booked my flight and train tickets. Flight tickets to and fro from Bengaluru-Delhi came upto 10k and then I booked to and fro overnight train from Delhi-Haridwar (train cost being around Rs.500 each way), Haridwar railway station being the pickup point of Indiahikes. It was the best budget-friendly option I had since traveling overnight in a train I could also skip the cost of staying at a hotel at night. After that I started watching a lot of videos on Indiahikes website and started preparing physically for my first ever high-altitude trek.
A month later: 22 March
I had a flight at 11.15 am from Bengaluru to Delhi and a night train at 23.50 pm from Delhi to Haridwar which would reach at 3.55 am the next morning. Me and another girl had come in contact through a whatsapp group which indiahikes usually creates before few weeks the trek begins to send us important information about the trek. So she was coming from Mumbai to Delhi by flight and we both had booked the same train. We both met at Delhi railway station and not to discourage or anything, but I really felt unsafe over there. It was heavily crowded and girls of our age were not present there. During this time when we were still confused on where to wait, some local 2-3 guys tried to approach us and asking us if we wanted tickets (mind that the way they asked was very impolite and as if they were teasing). While I was scared on the inside, the other girl with me spoke very clearly to them and scolded that nothing was required. And we went to Ladies waiting room to wait till our train arrives. It was not at all clean and there were even some gents in this room! (so much for giving a name for it). We searched but one lady guard who was supposed to be sitting outside was not there at all. She came after sometime and somehow sent the males outside the room. Fast forward, our trains finally came and we boarded it safely.
We reached Haridwar station exactly at 4 am in the morning, as soon as we got down it was already very cold and there was no waiting room here. So we just had to sit and wait in the platform there till 6 am which was our pickup time. Thank god there were two of us because I don’t know what I would do alone at that platform at such an odd time surrounded by unknown people. Hence better to discuss beforehand with other people in your trek group and possibly book together.
Then around 6 am in the morning Indiahikes had arranged the vehicle for us outside Haridwar railway station. By this time a lot of trekkers had assembled and we were put into different vehicles. I boarded a Tata Sumo and started introducing myself to the people around and was really excited at the idea of meeting new people! One by one everyone joined and by 7am we left towards our first basecamp – Sari, Uttarakhand. It was a 7-hour journey but took us 10 hours because of all the road widening that was going on along the mountain roads. All the more time we got to witness these amazing roads besides which all along the way river Ganga was flowing, it was so peaceful and I was seeing such a thing for the first time 🙂
The road trip by itself is an awesome experience, when passing by Rishikesh we could see river rafting activities going on. This journey from Haridwar to Sari is a beautiful story in itself woven around the likes of the sacred Ganga. I could already feel a small sense of belonging creeping up within myself.
After travelling for few hours, we reached a place called Devprayag – this is the point of the birth of River Ganga, formed when River Alakananda and Bhagirathi meet. We stopped and clicked a few pictures at the viewpoint and again continued our journey. At one point, all of us caught our first ever glimpse of the Himalayas and it was like what love at first sight looks like! I could not believe I was finally able to see them and that I was here!
We reached Sari base camp around evening 5.30 pm. We all were given guest house rooms to freshen up a bit and then everyone gathered together where we were given a briefing of Indiahikes, the itinerary of our upcoming trek, important information regarding medications and then finally we had an introduction session with our fellow trekkers as well as the Indiahikes trek leader, guide and other staff.
Firstly, we were provided with health cards for each with which they would record our oxygen level and pulse readings throughout the trek, 2-3 times a day. We then got involved in talking to each other and everyone started gelling up.
The next day is when the actual trek and the real adventure starts and the link for the next blog post is here – My first High Altitude Trek: Deoriatal – Chandrashila – Part 2