“Clouds Were Below”
It was the seventh day of our trekking expedition to Roopkund. At an elevation of above 14000 ft, many of our members were feeling breathless, nauseated, and could not sleep well. We were already a little frustrated with the weather. This entire trek we had been walking in the clouds or rain. On a trek where you are rewarded with grand mountain vistas, we instead heard only the stories about how magnificent the peaks look.
We had very specifically picked this post-monsoon season. We wanted to experience the flowery meadows of Uttarakhand. Interestingly, we faced a new storm starting the second day of our trek and lasted almost till we returned. Every day we woke up with rain or heavy clouds. Every day during the sunrise and sunset hours, I would wait with my camera for the clearing and always came back disappointed.
This camp was located at the edge of the mountains in a field of granite boulders. Our tents were set up between the rocks wherever there was some soft ground, mostly due to the grass growth. It was extremely uncomfortable to sleep there at night. Cold wind, moisture, uneven ground, altitude, and fatigue had made our anxiety reach a peak.
On this day when I woke up, just before the sunrise. I opened the tent zip and poked my head outside. What I saw brought a strong surge of adrenaline rush into me. For the first time on this trek, on the day when we were about to descend and start our return, I saw an extremely promising morning. I could notice thin clouds were hovering very high, above the grand Chaukhamba mountain far away. Many other high peaks were now visible at a distance. The humongous valley that was in front of me was filled with the sea of fluffy clouds. Soft peachy light was then reflecting from the tops of the clouds. The slopes here were full of bloom with thousands of Brahma Kamal flowers. I was told by the local trek guides to not go too close. They had warned me that the fragrance from these flowers is sometimes too strong for people to take and it wasn’t uncommon that people lose consciousness.
This was a dream come true for me. After the morning shoot, we climbed further higher to the Roopkund, the usual destination fr the trekkers. It was an arduous trek to almost 16000 ft and then return 10 miles back later in the day. By the time we returned, it was fully filled with clouds again and it rained heavily. How fortunate I was to experience such a blissful sight.