Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day 363: Phalut

We woke up to a foggy morning in Phalut. Just as I was about to get depressed at the thought of having to walk yet another day through this fog, it started to clear up slowly. And as it cleared up, I realised that Phalut is one gorgeous, like I mean mind blowingly gorgeous place! With every inch the fog cleared we could see a bit more of the hills and valleys and forests and meadows. I stood at the edge of a ridge near our rest house and took in the beauty for a very long time. It was spectacular!

Later when we were having our morning cup of tea, Ashish came up with a brilliant idea. He suggested that we stay on for an extra day at Phalut and give the weather a chance to clear up further. Then since we would have accumulated a day's distance, instead of walking all the way down and trying to catch up, we could take a pony ride!

I was super excited by the idea! Firstly it means I can be in this super gorgeous place for a bit longer! Secondly, it gives one day's rest which is more than welcome post yesterday's 21km hike. Thirdly, I loved the suggestion of the pony ride! That would be a brand new experience and it is much nicer than having to take the land rover which is the only other mode of transportation in this terrain! So we readily agreed to the plan!

After another yummilicious breakfast of rotis, a couple of vegetable dishes and a lip smacking pickle, we decided to climb up the Phalut Hill. It is a 2km climb and gives us 200 mt more of altitude. At 3600 mt, it would be the highest point in Phalut.

Dad and I took a slow and gentle walk up. When we reached the top, we were greeted by a Buddhist stupa. It was just my dad and I alone on top of that hill and it was perfectly calm and peaceful. The only sound that could be heard was the fluttering of the prayer flags from the stupa. The Buddhists believe that every time the wind blows, the prayers on these flags are taken upwards towards the heavens. And I really felt like that was happening! There was something so indescribably spiritual about that place!

The stupa on Phalut Hill

We spent a couple of hours just sitting there and gazing around. It was one of highest points of the trek for me. With that magnificent view, the gentle breeze, the prayer flags of the stupa and intense silence around, I felt like I had never been more at peace before!

Atop Phalut Hill

Later Ashish and Vikas also joined us. During his previous visit, Ashish had set up his own little stupa on the hill, in honour of the mountains. He spent some time modifying it with Vikas' help, and lit incense sticks on it. I was very touched by their love for nature!

Ashish's stupa in honour of the mountains

We spent the rest of the day relaxing inside the cabin - listening to music and reading a book. We got two more awesome meals (lunch and dinner) cooked by the staff of the rest house. Ashish also provided me with a basin of salted hot water as a cure for my blisters.

Over dinner I struck up a conversation with a couple of trekkers from Britain who had just been to the Mt. Everest base camp and were now doing the Singalila trek! I was amazed by their passion and determination!

When I finally hit the bed, I felt very much at peace. Phalut is a piece of heaven on earth and I didn't want to leave.

637 more to go.

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