If you have been catching up with my travel tale off late, you must be anticipating Day 3 by now as much as I was. Those of you who have no clue how did I end up here, you may follow up the Day 1 trail here. Anyways, we knew our rendezvous with the lake would happen today; however, the real challenge was to reach Bhrigu Lake and retreat back to our camps here the same day.
So, with this morning thought, we woke up a little late around 6, which is considered late at higher altitudes. At heights such as this one, marked at 3500ft, the sun wakes up quite early, so by the time we were up, the sun seemed to smile brightly at us…:-)
We had our usual breakfast of stuffed parathas with hot tea around seven; you might be thinking that why on earth we ate parathas every single day; but you see, hiking requires tremendous energy and for that one needs enough calories to keep going. Having gorged it down all our throats, we packed our lunch. Lunch was a bit special for me as we had brown chickpeas and Puris which I looked forward to all the more in this weather.
Post that, the group began to get ready for the trek along with the rucksacks. Each of us had to carry our own rucksack for that day as most of the trek was going to be in snow. So, without wasting any more time, we began our ascent at around eight o’clock.
The first portion of the climb which was still visible from our campsite was too steep. Enervated, we took a short break just after the first climb. However, the day was going to be long and there were to still miles to go before we reached the sacred lake, so we continued thereafter. Hardly had we covered a small distance, we had our encounter with our former loyal partner, the lovely enticingly dangerous snow and this is how we knew, it wasn’t leaving our side anytime sooner.
Our guide was doing his part, giving instructions that included breathing and climbing techniques and few thumb rules which we had to stick to during the entire snow trek. But I must say, walking on hard snow with steep slopes was enfeebling as well as exciting at the same time. You had to be on super alert mode all the time. After climbing two such slopes, three of our team mates got bone tired and none of them wanted to go further, but, our smart guide, somehow, managed to motivate two out of three fellows to keep going.
Leaving one person behind; we decided to move ahead. There seemed to be not even a single defined route; but then you would be a fool to expect well cut roads enroute such a journey. To top it all, the snow came really hard on us and frankly, there were times when each step forward seemed to be a milestone. Our guide guiding us from the front made way for us with the help of his French axe. He seemed to be like a blessing during the time as we had no choice but to strictly follow the path curved out by him on a single line.
It really start to get to us at one point as we trudged further… we had to shell out every ounce of our energy, and our lungs were begging us to stop, but that wasn’t an option anymore and frankly, none of us even wanted to quit because the lake was not far away. So, we mustered all our strength back as our guide continued to push us and by the time our legs gave up, we had conquered the last glacier as well. Phew! Having crossed that part, we finally reached the mighty gorgeous lake.
The first sight of the lake was simply gorgeous. We couldn’t wait to get near the lake; as soon as we were there, our eyes met the bone freezing water. The lake is believed to be sacred but, we dared to feel with with our legs there and sat there and enjoyed the view. Capturing this beautiful moment in our cameras, we spent some quality time there. Folks embark on this challenging trek to Bhrigu Lake as it is popular as one of the best locations for meditation. I wanted to experience that feeling by practically doing it.
And so, I decided to move away from the group and walked a little towards the side and sat there and meditated for quite a few minutes. Such feelings can never be expressed by words, but i could tell you this; it was absolutely soul satisfying and felt ethereal. Having spent enough time there, we got hold of our bottoms and began with our descent.
A descent usually seems easy as you tend to walk faster, but then that is exactly where it turns challenging. The terrain becomes even more riskier; with steeper slopes where could easily risk a slide to which there’s no stopping. We had only one guide with us so he could not allow us to slide as most of us didn’t know the proper technique;
We descended two slopes walking really carefully. Everyone was hungry by then due to such an exhausting trek, so we chose a spot to devour our lunch at a place which was drier than the rest of the surroundings. After finishing lunch, we started walking further down but everyone was falling down on snow because of the sheer slope and the hard snow, so our guide had no choice but to teach us how to slide; thereafter everyone started sliding down on the snow. It was so exhilarating, all we had to do was sit or sleep properly on the snow and let the slope do its job. Hell of a ride back, undoubtedly! It felt like we were living a movie!
Enjoying all this we reached our camp site around four. Snacks were ready when we reached and they served us steamy hot pakodas. Who would say no to that after such a tiring long trek? We finished them all and spent the rest of the evening doing nothing but enjoying stunning nature all around us. Dinner was served afterwards and the campfire was set up.
Sitting by the fire, without uttering a word, just understanding each other’s silence and staring at the view around; we chose to rejoice our little victory. Everyone was happy and sad at the same time, happy because we had accomplished our mission and sad because this was our last night together. Its easy to forge bonds naturally as you are a world away from mobile networks and inevitably end up spending the days together without anything else to distract you. Your group becomes your whole world during such journeys.
After a while, everyone slowly retreated to their tents and dozed off in their sleeping bags for the last time. We all had crafted lasting memories during these past three days, met like minded folks who were strangers until then, probably one of the best parts of a journey.
Next morning we started our descent towards Gulaba from where we took our ride back to Manali. Sadly, we had met our end, it was time to depart. Visiting a typical Himalayan town to hiking on steep terrain; falling asleep under millions of stars to wake up and witness majestic snow clad mountains; nerve wrecking snow slides; befriending strangers from different states to inviting them to visit our home town, all these were part of a just a single mesmerizing trek. One must go for such a trek at least once in life. It might steal you away from your home but brings you closer to your soul.