Capturing the MACHOI
02.07.2015 - 05.07.2015 -2 °C
Every once in a lifetime comes an experience that changes you. You don’t have to come out of it being a hero, you needn’t have had a near death experience, you needn’t have conquered the front pages or even have changed someone else’s life. Sometimes a life changing experience can hit you in the most primordial of places- in the lap of the majestic mountains.
Now let me make one thing clear, my journey does not begin as an adventurer or even a fitness enthusiast. I do not write this as an adventure blog or a travel blog. My sojourn began quite reluctantly, as a support team of a course of students on their way to conquer the Machoi glacier. It towers near gumri- a hamlet beyond zozila where most of the traffic plies eager tourists between those two amazing contrasts that are Srinagar and Leh.
So the first day to camp one christened “black rock”, I started strong encouraged by our senior instructor telling me that mountains have a “reverse Mirage Effect” with objects being closer than they appear (spoiler alert: that thing is true only for your rear view mirror). Needless to say, every photo-op moment was squeezed out of it (all the while thinking of catchy captions for fb and instagram). With backdrops worthy of a nat-geo feature, and lovely sunny weather, the day and the track passed on.
Unfortunately people, the perfect photo weather doesn’t translate into happy trekking weather. Although it does develop in you a sudden interest in sociology, geology, geography or any other relevant sciences one can think of to give you a convincing reason to the experts for frequent breaks. Any designated rest breaks of lovely “shaker paras” (for all of you who say there’s no such thing as too much chocolate, say hello to its Indian equivalent) and water notwithstanding I did make the 4km (it was actually 8km I found out later) in 3 hours.
And nature playing its part to perfection put me face to face with a 60 degree slope of snow and rock. That last 1.5 kms reminded me of words that would make you average hip hop artist go red. On taking the final step onto the camp site, the world as I knew it stopped.
I am not exaggerating. Imagine being surrounded on all sides in fifty shades of white and brown (oh yeah! Take that EL james) with greenery fighting to flourish and be noticed. I felt blessed to have been granted the permission to share the beauty of the majestic titans.
Nights brought with it a silvery white world bathed in moonlight silhouetting the peaks that a geometry teacher would be proud of. The next two days were interspersed with a flurry of acclimatization check ups before the final ascent by the team and students, tracking bear tracks made the night before on a binoculars and playing bluff.
Now sitting in the comfort of my bed and warm blanket, I do ironically miss my tent and sleeping bag. I came back a changed person with a new respect and awe for the Himalayas. Like a sufi poet, Amir Khusro so beautifully put it:
== “agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast, Hameen ast-o hammen ast-o hameen ast-o”
(if there is paradise on the face of this earth, it is this, it is this, it is this)