The return journey was oddly treacherous. Probably it was the hunger that had begun to make its presence strongly felt. We suddenly weren’t much in awe of the glacial valley that gave Smythe more than two hundred botanical species, anymore! All we wanted to see was the green checkpost that signaled the entrance/exit of ‘Phoolon Ki Ghati’ (Valley of Flowers)…
Damp, blue toenails began to pain with every step I took. Mowgli offered free classes on how to step on stones with minimal damage. He encouraged others to pick up speed by rattling out the menu of our proposed lunch once we are out of the wild valley.
Hungry, damp and blue, 4000 meters above sea level… I wondered how the Gurudwara teams fared.
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At a few more meters above the Valley, three of our trekkers were on their way to the Gurudwara.
The place of worship does not allow the pilgrims to stay there beyond two in the afternoon. The air is too light and staying overnight is not permitted. Most people suffer from altitude sickness here. Many devotees take a dip in the holy lake in the freezing conditions. Some say that there is a thin layer of ice on the surface of the lake that is melted with the body heat of the bathers. Deaths due to hypothermia and severe weather conditions are normal. The path is slippery and prone to landslides.
Among our three trekkers, one of them dared to take a dip in the water. She came out frozen. They said that their trek uphill was so treacherous that when they finally reached their destination, they broke down to tears of relief, men and women alike. While one delighted at the sight of greenish-yellow Brahma Kamal, another was at peace for having made this journey at least once in his lifetime.