This was the big day off to the lake. Much to Tets' disappointment we did not leave at dawn but at 8:15 after a breakfast of Maggi, noodles to people outside India. Shilpa had decided to stay behind so it was only five of us plus our two guides.
The path started off steep immediately and wound its way up the side of the valley. We then followed the contour of the hill along a road part way and then the we left the road crossed another stream and went up again. The path was made up of stone blocks and it was also stepped. Some of the steps were large and I remember thinking that these would kill my knees on the way down. We made height quickly always following the contours of the hill but never seeing our objective. Every time I thought I knew where we were going we turned a corner and went in a different direction. Kanuka was slow and needed to be encouraged by Ashish to keep up.
After 2 hours we entered a valley and followed the river. Here we started to see snow in large patches. On either side of the valley from the top almost to the river were long streaks, they looked almost like ski slopes. The river ran fast and clear and every now and again there would be deep pool that looked so inviting to swim in.
As we kept climbing along the valley the snow now lay on the path. We had to cross these large patches, this was difficult as apart from Sherv and I who had boots the others had trainers with nearly no grip. People slipped as we crossed but we did make steady progress. We turned our last corner and could see out objective the ridge on which the other side was the lake. The snow now covered the whole valley down and over the river. We went a further 10 minutes but the going was difficult. The flattest part of the snow, which was easier to walk on was over the river so it was dangerous to go there in case the snow collapsed and we would fall into the river.
Ashish took the decision not to go any further and we turned back. I was very disappointed and frustrated if we had the proper equipment we could have done it, just with ice axes it would have made a difference. I don't think our guides ever expected us to get to the lake, while walking Ashish was wearing trainers and back in the camp later that night he switched to walking boots. This to me indicated a decision already taken before we began and a bit of false selling.
After retreating we stopped on a large boulder by the river in the sun to have lunch. This was a packed lunch provided by the cooks, roti and chick peas, which was tasty and mango juice which reading the back had more sugar than a coke. It was a pleasure relaxing there in the warmth of the sun but all good things came to end and we started backed to the camp. We were back in the camp by 15:30.
Feeling hot and sweaty I decided I was going to wash myself. Near our tent the stream had formed a small pool about 30cm deep. The pool was nearly out of view of the girls tent so I thought it was perfect plus I did not have to walk far. I started pouring water over my head but in the end I immersed all of myself, quicker and less painful. Just as I was drying myself Satnap emerged from her tent in the distance and saw me in my boxers. I felt a bit embarrassed as I know the Indians are more conservative about nudity. I felt incredibly refreshed and proud of myself for bathing in the cold water as I am not very good with the cold and almost always have a piping hot shower. There's hope for me. :-)
With nothing else to do I decided to go to the village nearby. In the end there was four of us, Sherv, Kanuka who needed to charge her mobile and Satnap as her family lived in her village and she wanted to visit them. We stopped at Satnaps sister house. A two storey place painted a turquoise blue colour. On the bottom floor were the bedrooms and up-top was the kitchen etc. it was set out like that ad the top floor did not have the strength to support the heavy bedroom furniture. At the corner were the goats. One goat who was the favourite of the son had a lovely hairdo, very sixties. We had some chai Sherv and I watched the kids playing while the girls chatted. After a while we needed to go to the store to try and get a coke for Tets whose stomach was still troubling him. In the end the store did not have any but we got to see a seamstress at work sitting on her porch with her sewing machine, and old style where you turned the handle to power it. Also there was the standard old man just sitting contemplating life. In every village there is always at least one man outside the store, never a woman. That's probably because the women are working and don't have time.
As there was no coke we headed back to camp. Tonight's food was special we were having chicken curry. Ironic as for once it was not dal but Tets was still too I'll so didn't want any. Being bad meat eaters Sherv and I had to eat first. It was delicious and made a great change from dal.
After dinner I sat at the fire and chatted to the girls. They told me how it had taken months to convince their parents to let them go on the trip. Also I found out that the average age to get married was 21 and all of them including Satnap were over 24 thus old not to be married. Shela the youngest was the most independent she had already moved out of the house to study her MBA and had got a job in Bangalore, telling her parents it was the only place she could get a job. Her parents having spent money on her education could not really saying anything against it. Eventually when the fire had burnt down we went to bed. Before I went I had a quick look at the stars again with my app to see if I could find more constellations, I found cancer.