Pawan and Nitika started a little ahead with the kids while Meena and I took a leisurely stroll back to Rambara, this part of the trek was awesome! Even if you cannot do the trek uphill, I recommend everyone to walk down the hills. It was exhilarating, the snow capped peaks in the distance, the waterfalls meandering down the hills and the changing weather patterns at every turn of the mountains. By now the rush of pilgrims had slowed down to a trickle and we did a very slow trek down till Rambara, talking to so many pilgrims on the way.
The conversation with the pilgrims was what I loved the most on the way back. For one, we were relaxed having done the journey. Secondly we had answers to the questions, people who were trekking towards Kedarnath would ask us. Essentially there was only one thing on everyone’s mind – What is the difficulty level ahead?
There were people from different walks of life and different parts of the country, one could hear Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Marathi. Those who could afford it, would take the palkis or the ponies, and there were several from the small towns of India who were trekking uphill with no shoes, no warm clothes, just a big smile on the face and willing to actively engage in conversations and the conversations revealed the strong faith that people had in Divine. It was something to experience this faith.
When we started from Gowrikund, we had met an Australian lady who was walking all the way from GuptKashi so as to get used to the uphill trek. We met her again at Rambara and she had decided to take a break at Rambara so as to do the trek uphill next day morning at 4A.M. so as to avoid the rush of pilgrims and do the journey in solitude. One look at her glowing face, we knew she was someone who was on the path. If only we had some time to engage in a more meaningful conversation with her.
We met a group of pilgrims who had come from a village in Maharashtra walking bare feet up hill with a huge smile on the face!
The next day we met an elderly gentleman from a village near Indore who was supposedly about 90 years old (in the photograph with Yami, Nitika and Pawan) and was traveling with his son and was coming after doing Gangotri and Yamunotri. Apparently he gets up at 4AM everyday, washes his own clothes, cooks his own food and does not depend on anyone else in the family. At Gangotri he had walked way ahead of the others in the group and had completed the yatra before others in the group could make it. It was the same case here, the rest of the group was lagging behind while this gentleman was ahead of others. I am not sure if I was even half as fit as the guy was at 90!
We reached Rambara, just as the night was about to fall. In the meantime, my left knee had started to hurt. We had a very nice dinner and slept with the night temperature going right below zero. The next day morning I woke up with a very stiff knee, unable to walk even couple of steps and I had another 7 Kms ahead of me and we had to reach Gowrikund by lunch so that we can reach Gopeshwar for the night halt.
Taking a Pony down the hill was out of question. Doing uphill is fine, but the ponies have tough time managing their footing downhill and if one is not seated properly the chances of falling are much higher. The big question was how do I climb down with a hurting knee?