“Tekuji Bachaooooo (Teku uncle please save me),” I shouted as my leg slipped on the snowy mountain slope. We were about to reach Bhrigu lake. It was famous for never freezing completely, even in frigid conditions. After 3 days of trekking, our trip was slowly coming to an end. It had been a beautiful journey through the meadows and the alpine area around Manali, in the valleys of the Himalayas.
I remember the day we started off. Our entire Yuvashakti team was brimming with excitement.
The trek began from the Manali Base Camp. From there we climbed to another camp situated at Moridugh. The first day of trekking is always tough and the rain made it tougher.
We trudged up the mountain slope one step at a time. Teku uncle was always there to encourage us throughout the trip. “Just 5 minutes from here,” he would say but the journey would seem like an eternity.
In these mountains, with every slope you climb up, you get a heartwarming view. The sun, the river, the trees and everything else is so welcoming that you wish to stay there forever.
Here, the only things that matter are the people you are with and the silence that follows your path. Any human can adjust to city life, but these mountains truly test your potential.
We ate some delicious wild strawberries on the way and finally reached the campsite.
The only light around was that of the evening campfire. I looked up and I realized that there are so many more stars than we actually see in the city. The cosmos is much vaster than we can imagine.
I spent quite some time, looking at the night sky, taking in the beauty and vastness of it all. Then, in the lap of mother nature, I closed my eyes and fell asleep.
Day 2 began with a cup of strong coffee and breakfast. We bid goodbye to Moridugh and hiked towards Bota Dugh. We were walking in the woods and crossing rivers. The artistry of the forest left everyone spellbound.
Teku uncle was telling me about his life within these enchanting forests. His life became a little less exciting after retiring from the army. After that, he had helped hundreds of people complete their treks. When one traveled with him, the roads became easier and the routes grew shorter.
One thing that I learned from this trek was that you never look back. You just focus on what is ahead of you at that point. I think we need to follow the same philosophy for our lives as well. The past and future can be thought of as being independent of the present.
After a while, someone spotted our orange colored fluorescent tents. Looking at them, we scaled upwards with all our strength. But the moment we felt that we’d gotten closer to the camp, it seemed to move further away. How was that possible? It was right there in front of us!
The journey seemed endless, like so many others in our daily lives. But we finally reached.
The sun was shining brighter here. The view from Bota Dugh was bewitching. The dazzling mountains seemed to be our best friends now. We camped here for the night.
Next morning, as everyone woke up, we began wondering whether we would be able to reach the summit or not. Would we get the glimpse of the Bhrigu lake? Isn’t it strange that our life is so uncertain?
The only thing we were sure about was that today, selfies or photographs didn’t matter. Only reaching the destination was paramount.
It was going to be a matter of another 12 hours. Someone has rightly said, “Sometimes the years you have lived seem shorter than the days”. Yes, this day was long, it tested our will, patience, and endurance. Just when we reached the snowline, a voice echoed “We can do it! If the first half was possible, so will be the second!”
We were walking on ice. At first, it seemed alluring, but later it was dangerous. Walking over ice was not everyone’s cup of tea. We were just about to reach, but things were getting tougher. The oxygen level was decreasing at that altitude.
You have what it takes, but it will take everything you have. That was us. It literally took everything; our patience, persistence and hard work.
And when we reached, Bhrigu lake seemed rather insignificant. It didn’t matter whether the lake froze or not. It didn’t matter that great saints meditated here. Nothing mattered.
All that mattered was our journey; the valleys crossed and the mountains climbed. I looked at the view and tears of contentment raced down my cheeks. This journey will always be a very momentous part of my life. All such journeys are. I felt like only working hard can give you the satisfaction you need in your life.
What I felt when we finally reached the lake taught me a very important thing about destinations and endings in general. In our lives, we are all obsessed with the idea of getting somewhere, the finale of things, and even death.
People wait all their lives to unravel the mystery of death, but perhaps, in their final moments, they realize that it wasn’t about the finality of death. It was about life and living it to the fullest.