The short story is that the trek was a success. We all managed to walk the distance and we all pretty much enjoyed it. The kids, of course, fussed and cribbed at various points, especially on the first two days which were all uohill. If it had been up to me, I might have relented and allowed them to be carried. Amit, in typical military style, insisted that they were not really tired yet and in the end he was right. We kept them entertained with stories and they kept walking and when we finally reached around 3.30, they assured me they didn’t want to sleep and spent the rest of the day running around as if they hadn’t done anything extra that day. Nor did they seem to have any stiffness the next day. So in the end they managed the full 27 km uphill and 27 km back without any visible stress. On the last day of walking, we kept telling the kids that there would be a taxi waiting for us at the end of the walk, to take us to Purola, so they only had to walk to the taxi. The next day, we had to take a taxi to Dehradun and Mrini woke up in the morning and asked me matter-of-factly, “Do I have to walk to the taxi today?”
Kids adjust quickly for sure. They got only mild tummy upsets from the unfiltered water from streams, full of visible insoluble things. They got only mild runny noses from changes in weather that ranged from t-shirt temperature to snow on the ground and frost in the morning temperature. And apart from that, they tolerated a new venue each day, dank, dingy rooms, unsanitary indoor and exposed outdoor toilets, and various other departures from the norm with relative calm. They got tired and end-tethered every day around 7, but that’s hardly surprising, given everything. In short, they were champions and both of us were impressed by how well they did.
I did pretty well too, considering. As treks go, this was not a difficult one. For Amit, it was a walk in the park and even for me it was in no way challenging. But this was a good thing, because it meant I could focus on the kids and most of the time I had energy enough to spare. Only once or twice did I leave them entirely to Amit while I struggled with some difficult part of the route. But, though uphill was not difficult, my knees started to complain on the steep downhill stretches. Once, while holding Mrini’s hand on a particularly steep descent, I slipped and we both landed on the ground. Neither of us got hurt, but Mrini was understandably shaken (though later she could be heard bragging about it to Tara).
The rest of the time, I managed the walk without getting stuck anywhere. The uphill parts had me gasping, but that was to be expected. By day four, I had developed fluid retention and the familiar tightness and pain in the chest were back, but a single shot of Lasix took care of that. And yes, I survived on a gluten free, lactose free diet too. While the others stuffed themselves with puri and halwa and maggi and then snacked on chocolate chip biscuits to boot, I munched on peanuts and lunched on puffed rice. Breakfast was leftovers of the previous night’s dinner. The only thing I feasted on was onion pakoras on two occasions. By the time we got back I was ready to devour a kilo of nonveg and a litre each of ice cream and beer. And, a little over 48 hours after our return to the land of electricity and hot water, I’m well on my way to achieving those goals.
So that’s the short story. There is an unedited, unabridged version, but that’s in the shape of hand-scribbled notes which it will take me some time to transcribe (and decipher). Photos, hopefully, will be available sooner.