Mountains

on long walks in mountains…

walks in Indian Himalaya

there are walks in the mountains while hiking that one underestimates, naïve enough not to pay heed to the illusions of a simple way up wild gorges… the day elongates proportionally with the trail, disaggregated into phases that seem like days unto themselves, each phase anchored to its own particular memory…

walks in the enchating landscapes of high-altitude Himalaya

there’s a brief period of exuberance initially that disappears up the steep walls that one finds themselves surrounded by… as the woods give way to the meadows, the true dimensions of the playground are now apparent, bare rocks baring their fangs, their perpendicular faces and shadows painting stripes on the valley floor, while their sharp tops lasso clouds…

walks in the enchating landscapes of high-altitude Himalaya

perseverance is the only way to break through this immensity, and in that hope one walks, snaking up the first mountain top, one that took much longer than anticipated and with every step humbled the self-proclaimed trailblazer… a bumblebee hugs its flower a bit too tightly from the usual norm of tap and go, must be the breeze blowing across the ridge, or the sadness of the afternoon slipping into evening a bit too soon…

bumblebee

most tops are false tops though, so one shrugs off the disappointment, and walks up to the next false top, already thinking of the one after that, nearly stepping over a slug that has its own ideas on climbing through light scree, the mist a constant companion as one links up ridges, there’s that nagging thought of rain but the light breeze is a delight, parting the clouds at frequent intervals to let a bit of sun in for reassurance…

slug

another rest stop, the weather’s mostly been balmy, the trail has been much longer than expected but hasn’t really thrown up any major surprises… as fears are allayed a banter begins to bloom… a big rock that supposedly has curative powers to treat livestock ailments, you grate a white stones kept on top against the rock, concoct the powder with some water to make ‘milk’, and feed it to the ailing… in lands where every third plant has medicinal properties, one can’t really dismiss such notions lightly… what are medicines but metals and minerals after all..

walks in the enchating landscapes of high-altitude Himalaya

as twilight creeps in, a cairn in the distance signals the last mountaintop, there is still quite a bit of uphill and some descent after that before one sees the camping hut, but ‘tis a mental game this, and when the end is nigh, the spirit soars higher than the clouds, quite literally in this case as clouds fill the valley and a setting sun sets the sky ablaze one last time…

walks in the enchating landscapes of high-altitude Himalaya

a beautiful hike to the meadows of Asurbag in Tirthan valley on way to the source of Tirthan river… in Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) in Himachal Pradesh… we started from the true left of the river instead of the right to avoid an out-and-back… starting leisurely at about 10 am from the village of Mashyar at around 2,000 meters, we were immediately faced with a daunting uphill through lush meadows that see very little human interference… realizing that starting earlier would have been prudent (as it more or less always is), we kept climbing to see the end of treeline in about 5 hours, which we’d anticipated to be around 2-3 initially… as the trees went away, clouds came calling… one ridge led to another that led to another and as the skies cleared in certain patches, a mist started wafting through the landscape…

walks in the enchating landscapes of high-altitude Himalaya

we got into that phase where one is tired yet kept away from exhaustion by the vista in front of them… as we clambered to a notch at around 4,000 meters and saw the meadows of Asurbag down below in the last light of the day, we were blessed with a sparkling sunset, fire dancing over swirling clouds… what was expected to be a 5-6 hour hike turned out to be a 10 hour rush to camp, but in retrospect, walks that are worth every bit of the exertion…

walks in the enchating landscapes of high-altitude Himalaya

musings on long walks in high altitudes…

Author: Parth Joshi

Allured by the outdoors, the author is made up in parts of that quintessential lost soul wreathing under the pangs of biophilia in a desk job, a wannabe elegist mostly ending up in dungeons of poetasters and an optimist waiting for the senility of the modern world to fade away while sampling shoots and leaves. In saner times, he has a keen interest in areas pertaining to tourism, history, agriculture and climate change, especially with respect to historical interpretations, emerging technologies and future livelihoods. An avid trekker, runner, cyclist, birder and photographer, he is more often than not found gloating over anything hinterland, on foot or over computer monitors, and fantasizing solutions that can foster inclusive growth and sustainable livelihoods for communities at the grassroots.

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