Brahmatal: A Winter Wonderland

Through our experiences we thrive and relive those moments through our stories. Travelling has always been beyond experience, immensely helped in gaining new perspectives, be that while traveling solo or with a group of new folks. The key thing is to stay humble and appreciate what the surroundings has to offer, which helps us expand our horizon and opens the door for new possibilities.  One such experience has been my 2021 Himalayan trek, Brahmatal in Uttarakhand. Uttarakhand is abode for some of greatest pilgrimage centres, Himalayan mountain ranges and popular hill stations of India. Brahmatal has been my second Himalayan conquest following Kedarkantha in 2019.

Majestic mountains have a simple rule for all with no exceptions that “Everyone are equal”. Abide by the rule of nature, appreciate and witness what’s been offered! The time here brings out the best and worst in each of us by pushing our limits, testing the extremities physically and mentally under varied geographical conditions. Mountaineering is not a place for fun as the absolute definition of “fun” is diametrically opposite to what one can imagine. Fun is subjective here and if one can push themselves out of comfort zone, stretch their limits and adapt to the nature, it’s brilliantly fun!

Brushing off the snow covered shoes, our mornings would begin with backpacks and gears set for the day long hike. Trekking guides briefing the day’s agenda and rules, we would start the hike. The Brahmatal hike started from Lohajung (the base camp) towards the campsite of Bekaltal on the first day. The landscape during ascent started with dry vegetation, small water streams, slopes, and steep paths. It was only by the time we reached Bekaltal, the first campsite is when we witnessed snow. The following two days were certainly strenuous with gaining altitude, snowfall during the hike and slippery paths along the steeps. Days being shorter and nights longer, campsites would be dark by 5 pm and with the setting sun, temperatures would drop drastically. The steamy soup and tea offered at campsites on chilly evenings tasted heavenly and kept us warm. Evenings were spent gathering inside dinner tents for games and discussions. Piping hot dinner served at the end of the day undoubtedly tasted scrumptious. Providing basic amenities such as food and shelter by setting up the tents and serving hot meals at these places are commendable efforts which might go unnoticed and underappreciated. The staff put their best efforts to cater to the needs of hiking groups day in and day out. Food, tents and sleeping bags were more than luxury. Although it was for 4 days, it made us appreciate simple things, have more compassion, have less complaints and be joyful in life. Gazing innumerable stars on those brutally silent nights was a brilliant treat to the eyes and brought so much peace to ever pacing mind. Hours could be easily spent gazing and capturing the night sky if not for snowfall. “What You seek is seeking You” and will always seek you!

The third day was the Summit Day and the extreme snowfall during the night until the morning made it difficult to start the hike early to reach the summit for sunrise. One thing we learnt on the mountains is it was all about expect the unexpected, be that detours, delays and changing weather conditions. The only way forward was to keep adapting. At certain stretches and especially during final stretch towards the summit, we only progressed with our willpower and grit although we were physically giving up. And at the end of it all, finally there it was! Alas, the moment we reached the summit of Brahmatal!  The view of majestic mountain ranges around was stunning with gloriously beaming sun rays, snow capped mountains kissing the clouds! It was worth all the wait, the toll it took on us and the journey so far. Nothing ever could beat its glory. There stood the mesmerizing gigantic mountains, untouched and unbothered! Sat there to grasp it all, though it was never enough.

The next day was the descent to Lohajung base camp on the 31st of December where we celebrated the New Year Eve and braced ourselves for the 2022. What better way to kick start a new year, couldn’t have asked for anything more!

-Written by Aashitha. Know more about her on Instagram

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