Kareri Village to Lyoti Campsite
It was our second day in the four day long trek to Kareri Lake. First day had been a very good day but ended on my being not able to go any further due to lower back pain.
Morning brought the sunlight into the room and Arvind called us for tea. I tried to lift myself with apprehension but Lo and behold, there was no pain!! I jumped with happiness, Manish hugged me and kids clapped. Now we all will hike together. After a hot cup of tea and breakfast in the warmth of kitchen, we set sail for the adventure. It was our first multi days trekking expedition.
Crossing the village was a delight. People were busy with their routines. Younger women were busy in the fields, in the cattle sheds and in the kitchen, elder ones were sitting pretty in their first floor of the home. Sunlight peeped into every nook and corner and the Walnut tree leaves dappled in their glory.
We passed through a dense ridge once we left the village behind. The ringing of horse bells alerted us and we squeezed to the hill side. The horses loaded with our camping and other material overtook us. An hour of the walk through the forested ridge was a walk in the peekaboo of shade and light. It led us to a small concrete bridge over the gurgling and tumbling Niyund river, our first crossing of Nyund.
Arvind and Bunty prepared Glucose and Tang water bottles, four for all of us. Kids walked ahead of us and at a faster pace and then they rested till the time we reached. As soon as we reached, they again move ahead, and we hardly sat more than a a minute or two.
Now the real fun began as the path sometimes ascended , then levelled and ascended again. Some stretches were just the bridles path while ascent always had some sort of steps which were actually stones put in rough manner to make the walk easier. This whole trek is used by Gaddi shepherds and I wondered at the the tenacity of the people who must have laid these stones.
After another hours walk, the ascent became steep and continued relentlessly for an hour. Then it levelled for ten minutes before dropping us at another crossing of Niyund river.
Kids took a long break of half an hour in the river. They hopped on boulders, took a dip in the river and enjoyed all sorts of water fun. Silence was broken by the splash of water and our laughter. A pesky Barbet intruded with her Kootrook and we all went silent. She also decided to go silent and we resumed our play in the water.
Some good boulder hopping was needed for our second crossing of Nyund river, and immediately we found ourselves at the bottom of almost vertical ascent.
Half an hour of stiff 300 mtr climb and we took multiple breaks. Half day’s quota of chocolates was finished in this 300 mtr climb. Younger one became too exhausted to even unwrap the chocolates. We pulled a trick to make the loudest sound of gulp while drinking Tang. He drank more and soon forgot that he was exhausted. Chocolates and Tang boosted the energy and sticks provide the good support, without which it would not have been possible for us to do this stretch.
Finally the gradient reduced and we reached to a clearing. The breathing time was short lived as even more steeper and quite narrow path loomed ahead.
Younger one had to use his all four limbs, for the stone hewed steps were too big for his small legs, even with a stick. Bunty offered to pick him, at least for this narrow, on the edge and difficult section, but little boy refused. He said proudly, “I have been practising climbing seven storeys for a month, so I am fit and I can easily do it.”
The trail now became a mud path. We had to be more careful because it was prone to slips. The Niyund river was now a constant companion, only that it was tumbling down the boulders and running down the hills fluidly, and we were climbing up without any fluidity in our mechanical body system, which functions on the joints and hinges of bones and continuous push and pull of muscles.
After two hours of this unrelenting uphill slog, it became cloudy and we increased our pace. But rain outpaced us and fell heavily. Rain in mountains is fierce and hurtful, but here it felt more so. Arvind gave us ponchos. The climb now was mainly over boulders, along which the river was tumbling down. There was no shelter of any kind and so up we continued. Rain increased its force and we too increased our pace and reached a shepherd hut, which was nothing but a very low, roughly arranged stone structure with a vague kind of roof. I entered the hut and “Thud” my head hit to one of wooden beams in roof. It hurt gravely. Half an hour and rain slowed down and we continued the hike again.
The roar of the river kept increasing as we climbed up. The rain was still strong, but not fierce, and despite ponchos we were wet. The smell of goat and sheet dung littered on a particular section showed that it was a resting place all the time for all the groups, but it was not too offending. Kids were enjoying all this boulder hopping amidst the thrill of rain in mountains and now younger one started ‘potty’ talks when he founds too many small dung scattered over this section. He imagined what if these were not goats and sheep but dogs or horses. His talk made us feel the stink and the filth if these were to be dogs or horses.
A small bridge, some more boulder hopping and we reached to the valley where we spotted one of our camp been erected along the serenely flowing Niyund. As soon as we reached to the camp, we find that Mr. AmarSingh has unpacked our luggage and taken out towels and a fresh pair of clothing and our chappals too, so as to not let us do unpacking after being drenched in rain and not to let us remain wet even for a minute when we reach campsite. It moved me enough to shed a tear of gratitude but I managed to stop it.
But we did express our gratitude for we have not worried even for a moment that we were with children, one of them was as young as seven only. Bunty was always with kids, when they were hopping, when they were tired, when they wanted to remove shoes to dip their feet in water, when they needed refreshments, when it was a tough climb on a tough gradient and when it was raining. He was talking with them, laughing with them and taking part in all sorts of kiddy plays that my younger one invented all through the trek.
We changed clothes. It stopped raining and out went all the wet clothes and shoes and socks to be spread on a big rock. It was time to pitch the toilet tent and sleeping tents. Once tents were pitched, wood was collected to cook food and we ate filling ourselves to the last available corner in our tummies.
The campsite was nestled in a valley enclosed on all sides by woods and did not offer sweeping views. However to camp along Niyund river and in perfect isolation from everything was an experience.
End of an adventurous, rainy, fun filled second day.