Day 4 – Madhuri and Manali
When I woke up it was 4:30 am and the driver stopped for “Chai” (Tea). Me and Achyut got out of the bus and reading from the Chai shop name board we realized that we had reached Kulu. Manali is another one hour drive from Kulu I was told. It was freezing cold early in the morning and the visibility far was nil. By the time the driver started again, all had woke up and it din’t take long before the visibility outside got better and at one point, the view of the Himalayan ranges greeted us. Covered with snow, the view to our right was beautiful. For most of us it was first time seeing snow and I can still imagine that view with my eyes closed (no exaggeration).
We met Madhuri in bus station, who had already made arrangements for our hotel accommodation. Madhuri had registered for “National Mountain Biking Expedition-Jalori Pass” a 7 days expedition and had completed it two days prior to the day that we met her in Manali. In the hotel she introduced us to her cousin and his friend, Vinay and Uma, with whom she had taken part in the cycling trip. After refreshing, and following suggestions that Madhuri offered we hanged out in Manali for the whole day. Hadimba Temple, Ghatotkach Temple and Vashisht temple are amongst the places that we visited.
But the highlight for me was river rafting, which was part of a package that we bought from this adventure group called Northface. River rafting in Beas river is a must if you ever visit Manali. It was for 14km and the fun lasted for 1 hour 7 mins (atleast thats what my watch read). I was so excited that I took a jump into the water which I later regretted for. All though the sun was out and the water temperature seemed fine on the surface, it was freezing inside when I took a dip. I was back into the raft in no time. It was quiet a rush taking a dip in that cold water. Do not try though !
Then the evening was spent hanging around in Manali market, doing shopping and trying out some local fast food. Me and Kishan, went out to have Chicken for supper while the rest of them went to a south indian restaurant near Manali market place.
Day 5 – Skiing, Paragliding and Base Camp
Next day, we started early to try skiing and paragliding which was part of the package that we bought with Northface. None of us really got a hang of Skiing, except for Suman who atleast din’t fall as much as we did. Me, Kishan & Nandhini, we just fell, and fell, and fell. The worst part was the fact that, unable to control the direction I went straight colliding with some of the Honeymoon couples who were skiing together. Embarrassing it was. But still fun time ! 🙂
From skiing place, we were driven down the hill for paragliding. Listening to some exciting tones that my friends spoke with, when they were done with paragliding, I regretted for not having registered for it.
Later in the evening after shopping a bit more, for we were not sure if we’ll be coming back to Manali, we took a local bus to arrive at YHAI’s base camp for Saurkundi Pass trek called “15 miles base camp”.
By the entrance we met some volunteers, who collected the registration confirmation receipt, our YHAI membership cards, Medical certificate and offered us with “SK-13” group card which we were to carry to all the higher camps and get them attested by the camp leaders, in order to collect the certificate at the end of the expedition.
My group was called “SK-13” because, we belonged to the 13th group checking in to the base camp. Prior to us the last 12 days, 12 different groups had checked in each day and 10 groups had already ascended to higher camps with 2 groups currently in the base camp.
We were allocated into our respective tents and when walking into the camp we were looked upon like aliens by other participants. Quietly we walked passed them to our respective tents, dropped our sacks and freshened up. There were two lanes of tents, 8 on either side and were large pole tents like the ones that army makes use of. And each tent was accommodated with 14-16 people. Me, Kishan and Achyut were in same tent and when we got into ours, we were greeted by the group of guys from IIT Bombay. I din’t realize then that by the end of the trek we all would have become such good friends.
At around 7:00PM the camp leader blew the whistle, and we were asked to move by the entrance with our plate for food. Food in YHAI was really good. With minimal facilities, they arrange for such good food, thanks to the local cooks. I thoroughly enjoyed the food and was hopping for the same in the higher camps.
Later came the camp fire, not exactly camp fire though. It was just a setup of led lights over the fire woods. YHAI does not promote camp fire strictly. All the three groups in the camp had to mandatorily assemble. It’s a tradition that the group that reported in the camp the previous day had to organize a cultural event for the group that was to leave for higher camps the next day morning. That day, it was SK11 group’s turn to host the event for SK12 group, while we SK13 group remained as spectators. The traditional YHAI cheer theme, good classical singing by a pretty looking girl and some funny dance performance, only made our evening exciting, extending the fun. Later at exactly 10:00 PM all the lights in the camp was put off, which ended a long, fun filled, tiring day for us.