Trek to Chandrashila Peak (Day 6)
We woke up early in the morning at about 2.30 a.m, had quick breakfast and got ready for the trek. The India hikes staff packed some tasty poha for us for the “after trek” party on top of the chandrashila peak.
We met up with the small group of 4 people which left us at Deoriatal at the main road in chopta and got ready for the 4 hour early morning climb. It was freezing outside but Jude advised us to only wear 2 layers of clothing; the body generates a lot of heat when trekking up and 2 layers of clothing suffice even in sub zero temperatures as long you are trekking up.
I quickly made to the front of the line ; under normal circumstances I am behind since the best photographs come after the location is devoid of people.But this day was different since it was night and there was nothing to photograph really.The trek up comprised of multiple rest breaks every 20 mins or so. It took us about half hour to cross the clouds layer and in about 3 hours or so, we reached the legendary tungnath temple.
The last part of the trek from tungnath to chandrashila peak is known to be quite a difficult one due to the steep gradient..and if that wasnt enough, I developed a pain in my left knee…and the sun rise was only an hour away when I did. After climbing up some more and with the daylight creeping in, the top of the peak became visible; it seemed very far away and there simply wasn’t enough time. All of us in the front of the line including shwetha, apoorva were incredibly tired as well but we had to continue on and fast; missing the sun rise after coming so far would be devastating to say the least, especially for a photographer. Sangamesh took a short route up and was the first one to reach; infact he was barely visible from my location.
So it was race against time; i tried to hurry but as I did the knee pain only worsened and I had to take a break every 5 mins or so. I had the slow down but the sunrise wasn’t about to. Felt like giving up a number of times but the thought of the beautiful sunrise kept me going. Finally after 40 mins or so I finally reached the top and just in time as well.
This shot made all the pain totally worth it ! Only about 5 or so made it to the top on time. The rest of the group continued making it to the top slowly after and entire group was at the peak in about 40 mins or so after sunrise.
We were at the summit for about 45 minutes or so. It was quite cold and the wind made it even worst !. How cold? Well for one thing, the drinking water in the bottle was frozen !. One of the group members did a mistake of removing his gloves and..well..his hands froze, sort of..Jude quickly made a fire and warmed his hands ; else it could have turned into something serious! This incident apart , the group had a lot of fun taking in the breathtaking view with a lot of selfies and shots. We had the poha party as well of course ! Overall the summit climb was truly amazing and made the entire trip totally worth it.
After soaking in the experience, it was time for the long trek down; of course I quite ‘concerned’ this time due to the knee pain. But there was nothing to be done apart from bearing it and trekking down. The legendary tungnath temple looked absolutely mesmerizing; shrouded in the misty clouds with the faint light. I wanted to go in and have a look around the temple courtyard but Jude forbade me since I had my shoes on; I couldn’t have possibly gone bare feet on the icy floor. So I just got this shot , made a quick prayer and was on my way down.
On the way down, I was last due to increase in severity of the knee pain. Only Sandeep, Swaroopa and Jude to keep me company. It took me almost 3.5 hours to reach down. While trekking down, met many people who were on their way up to Tungnath temple including some trekkers who got awfully scared when I told them they were only at the half way point. Many school kids too had trekked 10-20% up the trail to play with snow or just rest in the meadows. There are some stall serving tea and refreshments at 15% mark and we rested there for like half hour or so, just reminiscing the past few hours.
Post reaching the camp it was time to pack up as soon as possible for our long 6 hour trip back to Rishikesh. Before saying the final good byes, the group sat in a circle and each one of us was asked to describe our trek experience. I can confidently say that everyone was overwhelmed and wanted to go on future himalayan treks again. As for me, I made some good friends for sure, people who I can count on future adventures. 🙂