It feels like the dam has let loose…The potential has turned to kinetic…. the theoretical, is now actual, and the dream has now become a reality.
After years of planning, researching, saving and aligning action with intention, I find myself sitting on the roof of an apartment building with my guitar. Not that unusual in itself, but today I am floored by the sensory intake. So, I just try to take it all in… It is amazing what India is composed of. The smells…best in the world… the cedar forests, spices, incense, blue sky… a stabbing sulfurous whiff of raw sewage and burning plastic… The dust and traffic. The people… visually as diverse as the colorful Saris the women wear. The smiles, the beggars, the stray dogs, the confused looking white tourists…. the monks, the school children, the taxis and horns, the rickshaws and street vendors and motorbikes . All immersed in this chaotic flow that leaves me swept away.
On my second day in Mcleod Ganj, (fourth day in India) I felt like I needed to get out of town for a bit. Let the senses relax, and let my thighs do a little more work. I heard that there is a good view of the peaks just to the north of town on a trial that starts behind my guesthouse. So, I made way out of the small hill station-town, and up through the dense Deodar pine forests along a steep dirt path. Looking up at the cloudy sky I think about turning back and taking ten minutes to go grab my rain jacket… “Nah… It’l be fine” I think… Seeing a few people along the way, I make friends with a group of young Indian men and we talked as we walked for a while. They were interested in taking pictures and listening to their cell phone-stereo, so I wound up leaving them behind as I picking up my pace.
Above: a flowering tree on the path up to Triund. I’ve yet to learn it’s name.
After hiking for three hours, I approach the top of the third and largest ridge and it starts sprinkling. I start climbing faster. Cousins of the small grasses and shrubs I recognize from the alpine in the Rockies start appearing as the pines fade away. The ridge I’m climbing rounds as it begins to rain.
Jumping up the last step I come onto an exposed alpine meadow circled by a veil of grey and monstrous clouds. Looking around, I notice a couple blue tent structures made of wood poles and plastic tarps huddled together. The chai wallahs… Running into one of the makeshift shelters, I find three benches full of hikers taking refuge from the rain and a counter full of supplies, candy, soda and food. I order a cup of hot chai (black tea, with milk and sugar) from the Indian man behind the counter and take a seat next to the other hikers whom all are warming up their fingers on the metal cups full of boiling hot tea. I laugh and choke on some of the chai as I notice a Colorado license plate hanging in the corner of the tent behind the counter… “priceless ha ha ha”.
After my second cup of chai, I notice the rain has stopped, I pay, and head outside for a look…
And got, my first glimpse of the Himalayas…
Indrahar Peak (15,500 feet)