We were back in Govind Dham by two in the afternoon. We collapsed on the lunch table and gorged on whatever was served. We knew that the trail left ahead of us was no easy task. We had to reach Govind Ghat by nightfall. If we lagged behind in time, then it would become very difficult to trek downhill. None of us carried a decent torch with us. None of us smoked, so there were no lighters either. This was the plan. We would all set off together. But no one was to stop and wait for any of the others. The idea was to race down and book a room for the rest of the team.
Setting out on a happy and light note, we went off in good speed. But as time passed, the gap between “pace-partners” widened. So much so that, the first team was forced to stop and wait for the second. We sat in a tea-stall that was seven kilometers far from where we had started off. The pace at which we had come downhill made sure that we were sweating profusely in spite of the sleet and the chilly drizzle. We sipped strong Garhwali tea and watched mules go past carrying tired pilgrims.
Mowgli declared that if we did not catch up with his pace, he would make sure that we are seated on mules the rest of the way. I protested vehemently. I hated the idea of being ridden downhill by a struggling wheezing mule. Slippery-cobbled paths, and dung filled turns. Later on, when Little One came to know about this decree, she hit the roof. “I am NOT going to travel on a mule!”
Two hours later, in the dark, I was sitting atop a mule. So was a sulking Little One.