I had many beautiful experiences this summer. I have learned double fold from each experience. Brighu Lake Trek which I did in May 2017 with Wilson College Nature Club was one such experience.
Brighu Lake in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh has an elevation of 4300 meters (14,100ft). It is said to be named after Maharishi Brighu, one of the seven great sages. The lake is to the east of Rohtang Pass and Gulaba is the nearest village.
We walked to first base camp on first day, then to the second the next day. On the third day we did Brighu and came back to our first base camp. Doing this trek in three days as planned was an achievement for the group as well as a mental and physical success for me.
‘Little motivation goes a long way’
I and a few others walked ahead almost the entire two days when we climbed to the first and the second base camp. It was green, there were streams, and everything was serene. The guide who was with us, Yuvraj gave me a tag line. ‘Chhota(small) height, big fight’ as I look small but kept walking ahead without expecting breaks instead helping him guide all.
He noticed the evident fear on my face on the day of Brighu climb and kept saying that even if I wish to, my shoes won’t let me fall. My shoe grip was perfect for this trek. My face still had fear written all over it.
‘Junko Tabei, from Japan is the first women to climb Everest and also the first women to climb the highest peak on each continent. You look small like her only. You can be her, common Junko, kare le(do it)’ I smiled and kept walking. This motivation helped me in the most difficult part of the trek.
On the third day when we began climbing Brighu I began with confidence but soon fear overruled. Trekking on snow made me face my biggest fear-death.
I do trek otherwise on mountains around Maharashtra and so was confident. But, soon realised the confidence trekking in Maharashtra came from the fact that if I slip from a mountain, I might fall in place, or roll down and break a bone but won’t die. Slipping in snow can cause death for sure as no one knows where or when I’ll stop.
I was in the middle of the climb when I slipped on melted ice. ‘Aah, I am slipping, I’ll die, help, help, help’ I almost cried howling. I could see white death bed to the left side where I was slipping. I panicked.
‘It’s all in your head, the fear and the confidence.’
Mustafa (centre) who was ahead came rushing in. ‘I can’t move, I’ll slip, I’ll fall, there is melted ice everywhere, where do I get grip’ I said, still howling.
‘Just move your rambler stick a bit ahead and take a big step towards my leg, that’s it, I have caught you, don’t panic’ he said. It wasn’t easy but I did as he said. I dodged the white dead bed. I faced the fear, I survived. I walked further and reached the best part of it all.
Now the white death bed to my left and become a slide front of me0l. We had to move in the same direction as the slope, so we glided. I realised the difference between slipping and sliding. Since, I was ahead I had the fun slide twice. Now, the confidence overruled.
‘Group over individual’
‘I’ll take the rest and start moving down. You guys reach the summit and head back soon.’ Anish Cheta (photo credit Sandesh Lad) said when Brighu was hardly few minutes away.
‘It will take hardly some time; don’t miss it after coming so close to it.’ Yuvraj our guide said as we all echoed him.
‘I have seen the lake the last time I had come here. Sir has asked me to do the right thing for the group. By the time you guys come I’ll take who are tired and can’t make it ahead half way down. It will save time’
We walked ahead. I think only half the number we began with, reached Brighu Lake. Some couldn’t do because of their shoes, some because of their fears. I saw the lake, it was beautiful. I couldn’t believe I made it. The lake was frozen but my eyes had water flowing. I felt blessed at the moment but there was a bigger lesson in store as we walked down.
There was a flashback of my climb to the first base camp till the last step reaching Brighu Lake playing in my head. I realized how selfish I had been. I enjoyed the breeze, the stream and felt serene while there were people struggling the entire time. And Cheta(means elder brother) let all the efforts taken to reach Brighu let go when it was hardly a while away, for the group.
I felt horrible. I decided to change this. I saw a girl struggling right ahead of me. I took it upon me that I’ll get her safely down. I decided to use my new found confidence and learning into practice. I tried to motivate her and helped her, the entire snow walk down. When we reached the first base camp, I felt better, at peace, grown as a person from within.
Brighu Lake will always be special for me as my first snow trek. I have definitely learned double fold from this single trek, in my entire trip to Manali.