One day before the trek there was frantic activity at home. This was no regular holiday, but only us humans sensed that. For Thor and Kiki it was just a lot of activity and bags in the hallway they could run around and flop onto. We were to head out early next morning to our first stop enroute the trek, on the banks of the mighty Ganga. The plan was to go trekking to Chandrashila which is at ~13000 ft above sea level, with our two pet dogs.
The trek promised lots of walking, steep inclines, a great view and as if specially for us, rain was predicted. Our planning started a month earlier, with not just gear for us, but for the pets too. We came across a brand called Ruffwear on www.dogkart.in after some searching and they seemed to offer just what we were looking for. From rain cover to easy to carry high energy dog food, a doggy rucksack and a trek friendly leash, we seemed to have all covered here.
We were trekking with a highly recommended adventure company, Aquaterra (www.aquaterra.in). They too were, for the first time, welcoming pets on one of their treks. Planning out the way, we made our first pit stop at Rishikesh where we stayed a night at a pet friendly resort to ease Thor and Kiki into the physical exterior that lay ahead by way of a 5 hour drive the next morning. They however had different plans. They took us down to the banks of the Ganga only to be held back from taking a dip. They obeyed after a quizzical glance, “water and no jump?”
The following afternoon we reached our start point and the trek started with a short but steep walk up to Deoriatal. A pristine meadow by a lake which seemed to have been placed there only to reflect the stoic snow capped peaks that lit up with the first rays of the Sun.
We walked for about 8 hours the following day and Kiki decided to take on the mantel of maintaining the pace of the pack. While Thor and a guide from Aquaterra found purpose (for very different reasons) at the head of the pack, Kiki ensured the pack remained tight running up and down the single file route every couple of minutes. They took the trek as if they were meant for it! Here we were trudging along, careful with our footing as we neared the end of day 2 and both our four legged member were looking for rivulets and streams from the downpour during our walk to splash onto and play around. No water body was spared on this day. From running, leaps to finding barks and branches underwater, they decided the walk was just a means to find newer playing ground!
With confidence, now both our guides and us decided to take on the steepest climb to 9000ft on the morning of the 3rd day. With bags backed and semi wet shoes from the previous day, we started from camp before sunrise.
While we were shaking off slight fatigue from the previous day, both Thor and Kiki woke up with endless energy and all set to explore new frontiers (and water pools). We exchanged looks, confirming what each of us were thinking. Between their rain coats and high energy dog food the previous night, we were in for a fast climb since they were on leash to avoid losing them in the dark and Leopards of course.
What made this leg unique and awe inspiring was that a majority was covered in the absolute darkness except the piercing beams from our flashlight. As we transitioned to dawn what we saw was snow capped peaks basking in golden hue as far as one could see and all around us. What hits you then when you catch your breath and take in the view is, you are not just above the tree line but above the clouds as well. For the last 500mtrs of ascent we had rising clouds and soaring eagles for company. Even Thor and Kiki seemed to be in awe. Now off leash, they stopped to look around as we hit the peak.
As we stood, glowing with pride and towering over immediate peaks with only the now ominous looking sharp white peaks at a distance, the dogs decided to climb onto the tallest rock and settle in as if knowing they had conquered what they were brought out for. The ring of the nearby temple bell and the silence was as if to say, we were amongst the Gods !