Everyone was up early & started packing their stuff. We were blessed with a bright morning, but the memories of the windy bone-chilling night before remained fresh. We grabbed a quick breakfast while Sandeep recorded the trek impressions in several video clips with each & every one of us. It was humbling to see everyone expressing their thoughts wide open. That was an opportunity for me to speak my heart out. I did try to wrap modest words around the feelings stimulated in me on the trek, & somehow incorporated every emotion in a 5-minute video. Check it out:
Soon after the video impressions, we clicked the group picture with the Spur in the backdrop:
With a heavy heart filled with countless memories from the journey, we bid goodbye to the base camp that was our abode for the past few days. It was an exhilarating yet delightful experience leaving the base camp for good & heading back home. With the trek leaders whistle, we took off for the walk downhill.
Making our way through the same roads we’d struggled upon & lived the stranded moments with gratitude, we reached Mankorma in little less than two hours. The shop owners at Mankorma welcomed the group delightfully. While we spent some time chatting at the spot, I could manage to click the zone in my 70-300 mm lens.
We continued down the trail, crossing multiple river streams to reach Chang Ma by noon. On the way, we stopped multiple times to click some funny photographs & to make the most of the gift nature had bestowed upon us. Being there & experiencing the aura, was literally a great opportunity. Everyone was talking about one or the other moment from the trek & the discussion just didn’t stop. We sang, we laughed, we fell & we got back up. In a nutshell, it was an immense feeling. I clicked my heart out in those desolate traces to nurture my love for the Himalayas. Pics follow:
It got cloudy when we reached the Stok village from where we started our journey into the realms of nature. While waiting for our trek staff to arrive, I managed to play some cricket with the local folks who helped us on the trek. Gotta say, these guys make the most of what they got. They might not have the best of resources, but they endure a respectful smile & appreciate life the way it is. After we enjoyed some Maggi at the local shop, everyone loaded their rucksacks on the truck & hopped on to our seats for the drive back to Leh. It was like heading back to school after a vacation, only with some breathtaking memories from the moments survived in the thin air of the mighty Stok Kangri. The humble ride back to our guest house took roughly 30 minutes. We settled in, and since no one was in a mood to nap, we checked ourselves out & headed out for a late team lunch. A series of local cuisines followed while we chatted at length about the last few days. We probably were the loudest around there, but then, we were the happiest too.
We called it a day after a long stroll into the Leh market picking up souvenirs. I got myself a “Stok Kangri 6153” patch to sow on my rucksack as an eternal memory of the expedition of a lifetime. As the night crawled upon us, we bid each other goodbye until next time & headed back to our respective hotels.
Thousands of memories instilled in my thoughts, would stay & remind me of the times lived on my own terms. Though the toughest, the last few days had been enthralling & presented a great learning experience. The more I stepped out, the more I knew myself better.
I boarded the flight back to Delhi with a heavy heart but was sure to retain the positivity I’d gain while traversing through the curious turns in the barren heights. All said & done, I was proud to have accomplished what I’d set out for. Sandeep presented all of us with the dearest accolade every mountaineer thrives for; the white sheet of fabric made from Ladakhi drapery. It was a token for respect for the diligent mountaineers & a warm acknowledgment of their efforts to scale a mountain. I felt honored & promised myself to always live up to the respect that accolade exhibits.
With that thought in mind, I enjoyed a reasonably heavy breakfast before heading out for the airport. Carrying a massive bunch of memories wasn’t convenient but getting back home & cherishing the moments with my family kept me going. Here are some clicks of the Indus valley & the countless glaciers from the flight:
So, what did I learn or achieve by doing this? There’s no easy answer to that. I aspired to take on the biggest of the challenges & live through them on my own terms. I feel blessed to have done that right. As is evident from the words I shared, I fell through the gaps of time a lot of times. But getting back up was my only option. And I’m glad I got back up every time I got knocked down. I now know what I’m made of & what I’m capable of doing. The journey to the glorious summit taught me how hurdles in our lives are just loose gravel on a trail. If we work through them patiently & stay focused, it’s only a matter of time that we will find ourselves scaling new heights. This realization is my prime jewel. It’s a blessing in disguise.
I’d close with a quick remark. For all my friends reading this excerpt, I implore you to find your calling. There’s nothing bigger than finding your true self & working tirelessly to achieve greatness. Don’t leave yourself incomplete; don’t comply before you make that last rebellious effort. Certainly, don’t give up, before you have shed every drop of blood & sweat, in being who you deserve to be. Hustle & live to celebrate your dreams.
If we weren’t here to become better every day & find peace with ourselves, then why are we here?
An adventure is nothing if we don’t cherish moments spent with those who accompanied us & shared struggle and laughter throughout the journey.
I would like to thank Bikat Adventures for this wonderful opportunity & the recognition. The trek was organized in an effective manner with professional assistance throughout the trek. A special thanks to our trek leader, Sandeep Kumar for his constant guidance & eternal motivation along the journey. That man took us to the top & brought us back safely. Kudos to your spirit.
A warm note of appreciation for my fellow trekkers & the Bikat staff. You guys were a great company; we met as strangers, became friends & left as eternal buddies. We may not talk every day, but we’re connected with that one thread that binds us all, love for mountains. I’m thrilled at the kind of support & cognizance we shared among ourselves, something that can drive great hopes into a worn-out conscious. Once again, thanks for being there!
Lastly, I received this certificate for successful completion of Stok Kangri Trek from Bikat Adventures, a month after completing the mammoth trekking expedition:
As always, keep your chin up, your shoulders square & get ready for the battle. We’re here; let’s make the most of it.