Sanjeeva Narayan
24 min readJan 30, 2024



1. Growing up I had heard stories from my siblings of how my father, in the 1950’s used to ferry almost a dozen children of all shapes, sizes and dispositions for trekking in the summer holidays. I had been fed, rather teasingly, tales of the amount of fun that they had (inculcating more than a fair amount of envy in me). Of course, no opportunity was also spared, when I had grown up to emphasise, how my birth had coincided, for whatever reasons, with such trips suffering a temporary but in hindsight, permanent cessation.

2. While most of the protagonists of that era have over a period of time crossed the rubicon or are now quite old, a latent desire always lay in me to indulge in some adventures of the trekking kind. Albeit bereft of the company of the immediate and even the extended family, but with the benefit of much more advanced infrastructural and communication facilities and easy and instant access to information. For various reasons, the latency somewhat remained dormant, and it was only recently much to the consternation and opposition (mostly birthing out of natural and genuine concerns) of family members and well-wishers (I have been privileged to have more than a few) I ventured out on a trek to the Annapurna Base Camp in the Himalayas, which would go up to a height of about 4200 meters — the height might seem daunting but information available in the public domain classified it as a “moderate trek”.

3. The opposition of the family who considered it foolish (even audacious considering it was my first attempt) which I attempted to rebut with my stoic insistence was ultimately overcome with my daughter-in-law also agreeing to be a co-adventurist in what promised to be an awesome experience. The fact that it was a tea-house trek where arrangements for stay would be in tea-houses (akin to small lodges providing basic amenities) as opposed to camping was also a contributing factor in making me choose this particular trek. As for the organizers, after some research, and definitive recommendations from some friends we chose WhiteMagic Adventures, a company having a fair bit of experience. This particular company, we were told, although a tad bit expensive, made excellent arrangements and factored in all contingencies while planning their treks. With all this background check done, we did all the bookings, undertook some amount of physical training to get our bodies in shape and, of course, collected all the gear and other accessories. Seemingly simple, mind you the exercise requires minute planning (given the need to optimize weight at the higher altitudes) and was somewhat complicated considering it was my first such experience.

4. The ultimate end-result was that the entire group consisting of a total of five persons converged at Kathmandu on 16th November, 2023 to commence, what personally to me, promised to be an exciting adventure spread over ten days, ultimately, leading to the Annapurna Base Camp. We were met at Kathmandu by Amit Dawa, our guide for the entire trek, a young man with an expressive face and enthusiastic persona — originally from Darjeeling his passion for trekking and love for the mountains had, blissfully and rather fortuitously, led him to a career as a trekking guide. Mind you he made no bones about his passion for trekking and love for the mountains which was self-evident in all aspects of his behaviour and depth of his knowledge. Our smallish group, which comprised of five persons coming from different parts of India and representing a diverse age spectrum (with me being the oldest) was minutely and intricately briefed by Dawa, who while giving us practical tips also checked our gear to ensure that loose ends were tied up in our remaining time in Kathmandu.

5. A note of caution here. While your operator will list out, diligently, the inclusions and exclusions in your package, the various tea-houses have an uncanny ability to charge for anything extra-including water (hot-water even for drinking being charged higher), wi-fi etc. Perhaps understandable given the relative inaccessibility and their sheer dependence on adventure tourism for economic survival and sustenance. Of course, given the need to keep your body hydrated to avoid Altitude mountain sickness(AMS) and ward away any chance of infection, the use of only packaged water is advised.

6. Next morning, we took an early morning flight to Pokhara, the operator being one of the many such operators that seemed to operate in that area with such regionally relevant names as Buddha Air, Yeti Airlines etc. The short flight in, what was, a seemingly rickety, aircraft was remarkable for the stunning views that it offered on both sides. While one side had the gargantuan majesticity of the series of snow-clad mountains (a part of the Annapurna Range), the other offered an amazing view of expansive valleys immersed in dense clouds. Since the plane flow at comparatively lower heights the views were clear and awe-inspiring. After a hearty breakfast in the precincts of the scenic Phewa Lake, and about an hour’s drive we reached Phedi, the point where our trek was to begin.

(Entire Group at Pokhra- getting ready for the adventure ahead)

7. Our destination for the day was a village called Dhampus, located at a height of about 1650 meters. While the process involved gradually increasing heights to enable acclimatization, Dawa informed us that the first day entailed a trek of about two and a half hours. Although the distance to be covered was just about two kms, the path entailed navigation of a mountainous terrain and a series of steps-sometimes steep, sometimes gentle. The emphasis was on listening to your body and finding your own pace — with the bottom-line being enjoyment and comfort — you are not in competition with anybody including yourself. The distance which we managed to cover in less than two hours, although a bit strenuous gave us a prologue of what was to come and was remarkable for the amazing views and the diverse flora and fauna on display. Joined by Dambar, the co-guide and a couple of porters (the facility with which they carried mounds of luggage, cheerfully at that on their backs, amazed you no end), the entire party spared no efforts to explain the local scenery while taking care of your comfort.

(All set for the experience)

8. Entering into Dhampus we indulged our childlike sensitivities on a swing perched on wooden rods. Our ultimate destination — the tea-house named “Anu Guest House and Restaurant” was a revelation in itself and in fact conformed to the image that had been conjured up in my mind space. Decent sized rooms with windows on all sides, a sized bed neatly made up, clean wash rooms, an amazing array of food and refreshment on offer with a huge balcony/verandah (you can choose to call it whatever) offering an almost 360 degree view with a calming breeze to boot The package which was ethereal after the strenuous trek which we had undertaken stood duly complemented by a homely feel and friendly personnel. The tea-house had been set up and was being run by an ex-armyman and his family and the manner in which it was being run duly reflected the discipline and orderliness so ingrained in the men in uniform. After a simple, yet gut-satisfying meal, the afternoon was spent in gently strolling around the village soaking in the views, enjoying the weather (luckily for us cheerily sunny), napping in the sun and getting mentally prepared for the next day.

(View from the Tea House at Dhampus)

9. An interesting sidelight. While gently strolling through the village, we encountered a somewhat steep incline, with a seemingly slippery surface which we were understandably extra-cautious in attempting to negotiate. Watching us, a couple of very young kids very unhesitatingly told us — “just go forward, you will not fall — we do it every day”. Perhaps daily traversing those pathways daily (often multiple times) had made them confident and made them look askance at our diffidence.

10. The evening was spent by us fellow trekkers in playing a new card game rather funnily named “Shithead”. Being rather illiterate about card games, what one could gather was the endeavour not to be the last man standing, rather contrary to normal understanding failing which you will be labelled as a “shithead”.

11. Post dinner, Dawa gave us a briefing for the next day when the real action was to begin involving walking almost seven hours, negotiating somewhat steep inclines, a series of steps and undulating terrain and also the gear to carry(something which became a part of our daily routine). Looking at the perplexed look on my face, Dawa again emphasized that the task no doubt difficult was not insurmountable. He also took pains to (re)emphasize some cardinal rules of trekking — sip water regularly, listen to your body and proceed at your own pace.

12. The next morning, nestling in the lap of the Himalayas surrounded by Machhapuchhare and peaks of the Annapurna family and courtesy the clear sky, we saw the most amazing sunrise — the orange hues of the sun gently making its appearance on the eastern side and simultaneously the rays of the sun getting reflected on the snow-clad peaks on the other — the experience was meditative and spiritual. Having had the privilege of watching sunrises at various vantage locations this must rank as among one of the best.

(Sunrise at Dhampus)

13. A word about the people from WhiteMagic accompanying us — while their attention to detail was immaculate, the focus on individual needs, providing the encouragement as well as the necessary inputs for the trek ahead was also worthy of appreciation. In what was to become a regular feature, the plan was to get ready for breakfast by 7.00 am and endeavour to leave by 8.00 a.m so as to reach the next destination by early afternoon (when daylight was still prevalent and to avoid trekking in dark).

14. The plan for the day was to reach Landruk which was at a height of about 1620 meters by about 3.00 p.m with stops enroute at Pitam Deurali (for rest and tea) and at Tolka for lunch. The route, although unmatchable in scenic beauty — the purity of air, the unmatched greenery duly complemented by the expanse of the Himalayas making it ethereal, for the large part comprised of stairs which took some effort getting used to.

15. In hindsight it was just a representative sample of what was to follow. Nevertheless, the gentle encouragement from everybody, the constant insistence on sipping water regularly and the incessant reminder to walk at your own pace made the task less onerous and in fact most enjoyable. Most importantly, the emphasis was on enjoying the experience and not to endeavour to compete with your fellow trekkers or try to set any landmarks. From Pitam Deurali one had a distinct view of the partially visible Dhaulagiri in the distance. Pitam Deurali also introduced us to ginger lemon honey tea which was to become our staple drink during the trip both as a refresher and energiser with the warmth providing protection from the cold. Stopping at Tolka for a delicious Dal Bhat lunch we headed to Landruk for our next halt. The trek organizers, prudently, had endeavoured to increase the heights gradually with a view to enable acclimatization and reduce the chances of AMS. Crossing Tolka and on way to Landruk we crossed the first suspension bridge — a smallish one over river Tolka and a precursor of many more gigantic ones to follow.

(View enroute)

16. Arriving at Landruk we were scheduled to stay in the rather interestingly named “New Peaceful Guest House”. The name apart, it was a welcome surprise with well-appointed cosy rooms and clean bathrooms, with some even featuring the ultimate luxury of bathtubs. Since it was early afternoon, a welcome shower soothed our physically weary but invigorated bodies. All told the stay was comfortable with the persons manning it willing to go the extra mile to make you feel cosy. The night stay with some of us attempting to do, if I may say, some amateurish star spotting was a revelation — the surfeit of stars a far cry from Delhi where attempting to spot even a single star on an auspicious day becomes a chore.

17. At the post-dinner briefing for the next day, Dawa revealed rather matter of factly that the real action had not yet to begin but was to take place now. In his own manner, factually but encouragingly, he informed us that the day was going to be long with a series of rises and falls within the route consisting predominantly of steps. As usual, he congratulated us on coming that far and assured us that we will reach our goal. His ultimate inspirational quote was — “Look not where you have to go but look at how far you have come” and briefed us on the plans for the next day.

18. On the fourth day the plan was to head to Chhomrong for the night with a brief stoppage for tea and lunch enroute. While the greenery enroute, to say the least, was eye-catching, amazing or stupendous, whatever you might like to call it the sound of the gently flowing Modi River, the series of waterfalls en-route, the constant chirping of what were perhaps crickets, made the atmosphere meditative. Crossing a series of suspension bridges, the piece-de-resistance was the 287 meters long and interminably high bridge over the Modi River, where the experience with the strong criss-crossing breeze, was most enthralling.

(Atop the 287 meters suspension bridge over Modi River)

19. The route was somewhat difficult lined as it was again with a series of flights of steps, sometimes long and with irregular dimensions. Nevertheless, the process was made much lighter for me by the willing and generous help of Aanchil, my companion for the trek who, apart from reminding me to sip water at constant intervals, lent a helping hand while negotiating the particularly tricky passages. Barely on the cusp of teens, he exhibited a maturity far beyond his age. He had come to the mountains with his father who was the Assistant Trek Leader, as a part time help, was studying computer science and passionate about music. The absence of a guitar robbed us of a chance to watch him perform.

20. Arriving at Chhomrong (about 2210 meters above sea level), the place where we were to stay “Excellent View Top Lodge” was located at a further height of 200 meters. The sparse yet clean rooms with somewhat barren washrooms was somewhat made up by the friendly, cheery and welcoming staff and the availability of running hot water which provided us the luxury of a hot bath to soothe the trek-weary and tired bodies. Be that as it may, there was no cause to whine about the nature and level of facilities which far exceeded my expectations, considering the relative inaccessibility and the sheer effort involved in setting up and running them.

21. The evening was spent generally resting, playing cards, devouring on hot drinks, and gorging on the view with the mountains intermittently enveloped by clouds and the fleeting appearance of the sun among the clouds providing for a magical view. Of course, the fervent prayer was to have clear skies in the days to come with the heavens not breaking up to obviate any obstacles in our adventure (by some accounts foolhardy for me). The briefing for the next day was of about 7–7 ½ hrs of trekking with lunch at a place, rather intriguingly, called Bamboo, ultimately culminating at Doban at a height of about 2600 meters. Since the next day was forecast to be strenuous, we retired to bed early to get adequate rest and get our bodies in shape for the morrow which, by all accounts, portended to be an admixture of excitement and challenge.

22. With the gradually increasing heights, the cold also had increased proportionately, and the night, initially, was somewhat uncomfortable, and one had to adjust the gear appropriately to have a good night sleep. Given the tiredness of the day so deep was my slumber that next morning, I was woken up by one of my co-trekkers to immediately come out and see the view which was amazing. The experience of the early morning sky with the sun gradually making its appearance and its rays reflecting from the partially snow-clad mountain peaks and the atmosphere gradually turning from darkness to dusk was again surreal.

23. Just a little sidelight. The atmosphere shortly thereafter in the tea-house was akin to a college hostel people running helter — skelter to get ready in time, somebody admiring the early morning, if I may call it, skyline and the surrounding views, people rushing for breakfast, last minute preparations for the day — in short perceptible confusion but with an underlying innate method, direction and purpose.

24. After a hearty breakfast, we packed our bags and started for the day, which promised to be even more exciting than the day before. With an expected seven-eight hours of trekking with heights ascending to about 2600 meters, I was excitedly looking forward to the challenges of the day, albeit, with some trepidation. The information that the track was undulating and uneven somewhat dented my confidence. Nevertheless, we started at about 8.00 a.m with my companion Aanchil, again displaying a maturity far beyond his still formative years, being his usual reassuring self. Of course, in addition to what he had been doing earlier, he even offered to carry my backpack when he saw that I was getting somewhat deflated. Mind you, it was his first trip, but the dexterity with which he negotiated the path, particularly the tricky passages, resonated with somebody much more experienced. The first segment of trek was somewhat difficult with an undulating path, series of steps and a stony pathway negotiating which could be tricky, with even a slight lapse of concentration having the potential to cause a fall by slipping with attendant consequences.

(With Aanchil my companion and friend for the trip)

25. But the joys of overcoming a challenge coupled with the exhilarating atmosphere and the gentle breeze, with the pathway alternating between comforting shades and soothing sunshine made the experience completely enjoyable and exhilarating. After walking for about two hours, at my own pace, which was much slower than the rest of the group, we arrived at a village called Sinuwa at a height of about 2300 meters for a refreshing cup of tea and some welcome snacks. While, in a discount to my senior citizen status, I was allowed a longer stay, after some time we proceeded to Bamboo, where we were to stop for lunch. On the way again, while it cannot be gainsaid that the views were amazing, we also saw some waterfalls most of which, although small in size, were falling from amazing heights.

26. In particular, there was also a largish expanse which from the distance appeared to span a couple of hundred meters comprised of a series of waterfalls ultimately converging into the river. Soaking in the view, from the viewing gallery, one could not but remember the iconic Liril Ad with the original supermodel Karen Lunell gently swaying to the beats of the jingle underneath a similar waterfall — an ad which we had grown up watching and which, in hindsight, somewhat reflected the coming of age of India’s advertising scene.

(Amazing waterfall or series of them)

27. Another sidelight -the entire pathway was somewhat crowded with trekkers of all shapes, sizes and ages (some even older to me) either going up or coming down. However, the curious thing that I noticed was that, while it was a custom to greet the people coming on other side, the commonly accepted greeting was not “Hi” or “Hello” but “Namaste” with all persons and, mind you, they represented a wide spectrum of nationalities invariably greeting or responding with a “Namaste”. An example of the greeting having gone global.

28. In an interesting interlude, a person of younger age while overtaking me, egged me to carry on with determination with the oft-quoted saying– “Age is just a number” the ultimate confidence measure. Of course, while I was determined to put in the best, the determination had to be tempered with the promise that I had made to my family and well-wishers to listen to my body and cease the adventure at the slightest hint of discomfort, when the body started giving signals ,saying go no further and head back — the adventure was not an ego-booster but something for enjoyment and should remain at that.

29. Arriving at Bamboo we gorged on a lunch comprising of freshly made sandwiches and a steaming hot cup of coffee in a tea-house perched on top of the village providing a vantage view of the valley.

30. The last part of the venture for the day was about a 1 and ½ hours trek to Doban, the penultimate stop before we headed to Machhapuchhare (the “fishtail mountain”) Base Camp the next day. The landscape offered an amazing view of Machhapuchhare. However, the temperatures had suddenly dropped, calling upon us to fortify ourselves with additional layers.

31. In the evening as the clouds appeared, blew away, reappeared the interplay of the mountains, clouds and the sky in their kaleidoscopic cacophony was again an enthralling experience. The post dinner briefing by Dawa gave some glimpse of the next day and by his tone appeared to be the most exacting day of the experience. Apart from again advising us to drink plenty of water, he also cautioned us about food as we were entering greater heights where digestion could become an issue. Overnight, at Doban at a height of about 2600 meters, in the freezing and rarified atmosphere was somewhat difficult. But a combination of warm clothing and extra layer of quilts made it somewhat cosy with the mind again eagerly looking forward to the morrow.

32. On day six of the trek, we were scheduled to trek under normal circumstances for about 6 -7 hours. However, for me it took close to eight hours and that too with the extraordinary assistance provided by our team, specially the Assistant Leader, Dumbar and his son Aanchil and Lal Kazi, the Porter. Stopping along the way at a stop rather interestingly named Himalaya, I had a fair bit of a curtain raiser into what to expect for the day. I could gather that Himalaya was something of a Base Camp for all trekkers/expeditions venturing into the Himalayan Range in this area and is neither a village nor a township. This was followed by lunch at a tea-house at Devrali on, thankfully, a sunny balcony. I personally moving on slowly reached our destination for the day Machhapuchhare Base Camp (3700 meters above sea level) at close to 5.00 p.m. While I can easily say that this was the toughest day with its series of rises and falls, with some really steep and endless steps, the difficulty was unmitigatedly tempered by the friendly companions, the clean air and, of course, the beautiful views.

(Kalaesoscopic view of Machhapuchhre)

33. The tired weariness of the day, soon evaporated with a steaming cup of hot chocolate, some snacks and the amazing view of Machhapuchhare, against fortuitously a clear skyline. Moreover, our destination for the next day Annapurna Base Camp involved only about 2–3 hrs trekking which (even by my standards) was somewhat lighter. We settled for the night fairly early for while it had become bitingly cold, we were informed that, in case the sky was clear, the early morning view would be amazing. And so it really was. While we could not see the sunrise (hidden as it was behind the mountains), Machhapuchhare peak as it slowly got bathed in sunlight with the shadows gradually receding made for extraordinary meditative viewing. Since the departure for the day was somewhat late, we spent more than a reasonable amount of time gorging on the view and counting our blessings at the good fortune.

(Machhapuchhre Base Camp- mission partly accomplished)
(NIght view at Machhapuchhre Base Camp)
(Machhapuchhre engulfed by a soothing cloud cover)

34. The route to Annapurna Base Camp, albeit, short gave us our first tryst with ice with the surfeit of streams and ponds partially covered with ice and the water flowing underneath making for an exciting experience. Bringing out the child in us, we threw pieces of ice, frisbee like, over the ice-bodies which made a repetitive, rhythmic noise. Thankfully, the way was, compared to the earlier days, relatively easy. Also, aided by a somewhat clear sky, the gargantuan majesticity of the partially ice-covered icy peaks on different sides, the running water in the partially icy streams made for an exhilarating experience. We could get an amazing view of the Machhapuchhare peak and the Annapurna Range consisting of twelve peaks of varying heights with Annapurna lording over all of them. The temperature had, by now really fallen, but a somewhat sunny day made the atmosphere bearable.

(Icy streams enroute Annuparna Base Camp)

35. Rather uncannily on the way to Dumbar initially made it a point to refer to certain sites which were avalanche prone and also attempted to relate certain stories thereto — realizing the intensely edifying and terrifying impact such stories can have, I told him to just move on quickly — we needed to carry back pleasant and not gory memories.

36. Talking about Annapurna Base Camp (4130 meters above sea level) and its surroundings, the views were so amazingly stunning that after sometime we stopped attempting to capture them on our phones — the endless interplay of nature in its wondrous beauty was and is so limitless as to be incapable of recording in photo frames — they are memories to be savoured and stored in the recesses of our memory, recallable at moment’s notice.

(Annapurna Base Camp- the triumphant look says it all)

37. After lunch and some rest, our trip leader Dawa took us on a round farther afield to view the glaciers and the amazing cliffs/gorges which made for a somewhat scary yet astounding view with the glaciers in the distance. Given the steep heights, the need to be extra cautious was paramount and Dawa made sure that none of us in our exuberance crossed the limits of elementary and basic caution.

(Gorges and cliffs at Annapurna Base Camp)

38. The view and the landscape lined as it was with tombstones to people who had lost their lives while attempting to scale Annapurna was humbling, tinged with solemnity while marvelling at the endless bounties that nature offers. One of the most eye catching messages on one of the tombstones and which caught my eye instantly was a Tibetan saying

“It is better to be a tiger for one day.

than a sheep for a thousand years.”

39. A tinge of sadness/reality check were also offered by the information as to how the senseless and rapacious plundering of natural resources by humans had caused untold and perhaps irreversible damage to our natural environs, with glaciers having retreated irreversibly and the ice cover gradually and, rather unfortunately, getting reduced. The sobering thought apart, the entire package of the Himalayas left one spell bound and awe-struck.

(View at Annapurna Base Camp)

40. While we retired to bed after a hot meal, when I somehow woke up at night and stepped outside, (with sub-zero temperatures definitely primed to freeze you), the view was to say the least-astounding. With the gentle rays of the moonlight reflecting off the partially snow covered peaks it seemed that the peaks belying their massive size were within catching distance.

41. The magical effect of the forces of nature at play resulted in the mirage of the otherwise massive peaks losing some of their gigantic and majestic sheen and appearing within a mere touching distance. Being awestruck by the amazing beauty and somewhat hamstrung by the biting cold, I could not record the sights in my camera but nevertheless such was the impact, that those views again got indelibly imprinted in the most recallable recesses of my memory, with instant recall at the times when the mind needed some solace/escape from the otherwise humdrum realities, sometimes sordid sometimes unfortunate, of life.

42. Standing both at Macchapuchre and Annapurna Base Camps, I spent more than a couple of moments not just reflecting on the mountain-scape, soaking in the views and counting my blessings on the opportunity of being able to savour the view but also feeling an intimate sense of closeness with a large part of the family who gradually and progressively have found their way to heavenly destinations. Conjuring up images (with more than a tinge of envy) of what they would be individually and collectively engaged in, I also had my silent conversations, bordering on communion, with them. While with a certain degree of effort I could stop myself from breaking down and tearing up, I was definitely overcome by emotion while particularly remembering my guardian angel, Nisha Didi whom I could imagine endlessly blessing me, asking earnestly and interminably about everybody and entreating me, in fact extracting a promise out of me, to take care responsibly of anybody and everybody who is here with her caring look, warm smile and most loving and affectionate demeanour punctuated by a tight hug and warm embrace. For me, apart from the sheer thrill and adventure, this trek was also somewhat of a pilgrimage in as much as it, if only metaphorically, made me feel closer to a large part of the immediate and extended family who are no longer with us.

43. The next day mission accomplished with a sense of some unabashed accomplishment we commenced our descent. Common sensically speaking, being a descent, the task should have been somewhat easier, but the hopes were speedily and emphatically belied with it being the toughest day of our adventure. The journey to Doban most optimistically estimated to take 7–8 hours with pit stops of Himalaya for tea and Bamboo for lunch took me close to nine hours with its series of steps, sometimes undulating and irregular, with the path even otherwise studded with rocks/pebbles with even a momentary lapse of concentration primed to cause incalculable damage. The exacting nature of the exercise for the day was somewhat tempered by the amazing views on offer and the extraordinary help again rendered by my companions, Dumbar, Aanchil and at a later stage, Rajesh who while reminding me to sip water at regular intervals also willingly carried my backpack and lent a supporting hand/shoulder to lean on while traversing particularly difficult stretches.

44. Arriving at Doban just when darkness had just about set in, the legs were weary, the body tired and the family understandably worried but the mind was in good shape — a result of the complex interplay of the forces at work in natural environs. After a steaming cup of hot chocolate and some snacks, I somewhat regained my physical senses. Thereafter just before dinner and after some discussion, a decision was taken that in order to ensure that we were on schedule the next day, I will cover a part of the same, till Chhomrong, by Horse — something which could take less time and was ostensibly somewhat less laxing. Tired, as I was by the exertions of the day, I had an extra couple of hours of sleep and was somewhat refreshed next morning and was willing to walk it also. But given the pressing schedule, I agreed to use the horse.

45. While the horse and its owners were gentle as well as noble beings, the journey with its series of ups and downs and undulating terrains was somewhat back breaking — particularly when the horse made somewhat steep jumps over largish patches. Nevertheless, I was able to finish the journey faster. Getting down from the horse while the legs initially appeared stiff and immobile with some stretches, they recovered to normalcy. The amazing display of understanding and unison between the horse and its owner, whose adroit mixture of love, firmness and cajoling, exhibiting an unshakeable bond was also eye-catching and noteworthy. Arriving at Chhmrong in reasonable time and after a hearty lunch, gorging on burgers, I took the last part of the trek to Jhinu — a distance which for me involved two hours. Crossing again, the 287 meters long suspension bridge over Modi River was an amazing experience. Being the concluding part of our trek, I took some extra time inhaling the fresh air, soaking in the views and counting my blessings. The trek having officially come to an end one was glad for the experience with a determination to make such experiences a regular feature of my life.

(Triumphant after the horse ride)

46. The onward journey from Jhinu to Pokhara was an eye-opener and reality check what with the somewhat scratchy state of the roads for a major part of the journey and increasing exposures to the realities of modern society — with vehicles making a more regular appearance and the greenery becoming somewhat alloyed with shades of dust. Nevertheless, the air was still pure and views still magnificent in their breadth.

47. Having completed the adventure successfully and more so my first attempt at a somewhat “moderately difficult” trek, all of us including the tour guide(s), decided to splurge and warmed ourselves with drinks and a sumptuous meal, depending on one’s choice but not before a hot shower, after many days, bringing freshness to our weary bodies. Before that we also bade a somewhat emotional and intensely fond farewell to the band of porters who exhibiting willingness had been of incalculable help and had won our hearts with their cheerful demeanour and never say die attitude. My personal and in fact the entire groups, heartfelt appreciation and salutation to them in particular for the planning, flawless execution and incalculable help and assistance.

48. For me personally, apart from the sheer sense of achievement and the emotional tinge this trek was an attempt at unravelling a part of the endless bounties of nature. The mysteries of our mother Earth, in all its vestiges and dimensions, cover an expanse which cannot be reasonably, justly and of course satisfactorily explored in one life-span. Be that as it may the duty of us human-beings to appreciate nature — God’s ultimate and priceless creation and to nurture it becomes paramount. God having acted as the incubator to provide us this present of everlasting beauty, it becomes our beholden duty to step in as the angel investor or venture capitalist (whatever role you might consider appropriate) and prevent it from decay (the result of rapacious exploitation) but to nurture it and supplant this ultimate fortune forever.

49. This particular trek also whetted my appetite for adventure and left me yearning for more something which I promised to myself to do in future also. That apart this trek also taught in fact ingrained in me certain life lessons, including the importance and sensitivity of virtues such as patience, caution, strategic behaviour, concentration and self-confidence in all facets and dimensions of our daily lives, something about which I hope and plan to write at a later date, hopefully soon. Of course, the unmixed and added blessing was finding a new group of like-minded friends.

(The entire group including the guides photographed towards the end-the triumphant and smiling look says it all)