Thursday, April 23, 2015

ABC Trek: Day 6 - to ABC and back to Doban

None of us could sleep well due to variety of reasons - cold, snoring and altitude sickness. So finally we all ditched attempts at it and got up by 3:30 am. PC, by now, was feeling a bit better and wanted to join IL & I to ABC. But CD had absolutely no energy due to the stomach upset that accompanies attitude sickness and she decided that she would rest for a while and start descending.

I would say that this is a very courageous decision. I saw KP take it at Gorakshep just 2 hours from EBC and CD did the same again just 2 hours from ABC. I remember being in tears on way to Gorakshep when someone told me that I will not to be allowed go to EBC unless my headache subsides. It takes real courage to walk away from something when it's almost within reach! 

At 4:30 am, we went into the dining hall where all the staff & crew were sleeping and woke Pushkar up. By 4:40 am 3 of us were on way to ABC - in multiple layers of clothing, gloves, two socks on each foot  and still cold to the core! The moon light was good but not enough so all of us (except Pushkar) had our headlamps on. Soon my headlamp started to show signs of dying, so we stopped to change the batteries and soon I found myself slipping on snow that had turned to ice due to us standing on it for long. I didn't realize that I will pay the price for this fall in days to come.

Pushkar checked me for signs of any fracture and once reassured that no serious damage had happened we resumed our hike to ABC. It was a slow progress due to snow, lack of light and bitter cold. By about 5:50 am, the sky started to show promise of a sunny morning and by 6 am we all switched off our lamps. Even though the weather had not really warmed up, just the visual impact of rising sun made us feel warmer!

Till the sunrise, Pushkar and I ensured that IL & PC were in our line of sight, but after that the path was straight and there was no chance of IL or PC getting lost, so we decided to walk at our own pace and reached the lodges at ABC by 6:45 am. I ordered a pot of masala tea and waited for the girls. By 7:10 am they also reached. After a few more minutes of rest, IL & I went to the flag point with Pushkar. PC was exhausted and she decided against joining us and continued to rest in the lodge.

It was a bright sunny morning and views of the range just took our breath away! IL & I tied the prayer flags and posed for a few pics and threw the "ceremonial" snow balls at each other :) We then picked PC up and started back at around 8 am. We stopped at the "Welcome to ABC" sign where all three of us tied the prayer flags and took more pictures. As we walked back we realized how much did we climb up on the way to ABC. About 430 m or 1400 feet - it was lot to climb in 2 hours at that altitude!

We all reached MBC around 9 am. CD had already left MBC with the other porter for Deurali - which was to be our lunch halt again. We all partook some breakfast and I left with Pushkar for Deurali at 10 am. IL had decided to keep PC company and they probably started 10-15 min later.

The trail between MBC & Deurali was crowded with folks on their way to ABC from Deurali. And the snow of previous day had started to melt creating more slippery portions. Given my fall in the morning I was more careful and I descended slowly. I reached Deurali at about noon where I found a tired and unwell CD. 

IL & PC turned up around 1 pm, we had lunch and by 2 pm started again as we had two more stops to go for the day. Pushkar went ahead with our bags and Shambhu continued to accompany CD who was still very unwell. 

As luck would have it, the clouds gathered and it started to drizzle. Pushkar and I reached Himalayan at about 2:45 pm where we had some tea but continued our hike towards Doban even though the drizzle was now a downpour. Downpour turned into sleet and sleet turned into hail...which pounded at us incessantly till we reached Doban around 4 pm. What a day - we experienced all forms of water - snow, rain, sleet and hail!

I immediately put my jacket, raincover and hiking pants to dry, took a hot shower and crashed - I was so tired I couldn't even drag myself to dining hall for some tea. By 6 pm everyone had arrived and it was good to see everyone safe and sound after the gruelling day.

It continued to rain well into the night but guess no one cared any more. We all were very tired, and post our dinner we all went to sleep in almost no time.

Sunrise over the range
Panoramic View of the range from ABC

Lodges at ABC

Walking back to MBC
Clouds gathering on the mountains

Hailstorm that pounded us for hours


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