02: Steep, Really Steep – Run Ki Dhar, India

Entoli village to Run Ki Dhar ridge 

2 miles + 300 meters

After starting in rain in Entoli, we hiked through the village to a ridge camp with a view of the white skirts of Trisul.

The first day on the trail was mercifully short as my body groaned under the weight of carrying my life on my back. We climbed up a wide valley full of fields and jagged cobblestone paths. Women worked in the fields in sari’s. We passed through the main town, Wan, a cluster of concrete shops with wood doors. We passed donkeys loaded with packs and colorful straps that bounced with huge tassels.

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We climbed up to a temple surround by massive Deodar trees protected from cutting by the temples sacredness. The trees stretched four arm’s lengths around and looked like grey redwood trees. The trail alternated from vertical mud to vertical cobblestones. I could barely look up from my pack pushing me down and the focus it took to place my feet.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe passed by shale and cow dung traditional house that lined the path. The rhododendron trees shaded us from the intense sun with their pink blossoms. We seemed to be climbing into the sky. Children passed us in school uniforms with rectangle backpacks almost as long as they were tall. The little girls giggled and their eyes danced as they pushed their tiny hands into Namaste.

A group of trekkers passed us who had been turned around from reaching Skeleton lake – fabled to have been the site of a huge battle and full of thousands of large skulls – due to a fresh layer of snow. The immense amount of unseasonal rain had turned into snow higher up. Their return begged the question of what snow would block our own path.

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We made camp on a high ridge above the terraced village. I sat staring back into where we came from. Cloud systems poured over the five valleys below. Children’s screams of play floated on the breeze and a serene flute floated up from the valley over. The sheer steepness of the land we would walk began to sink in. There was no flat in these mountains. Switch backs were cut to make cliffs walkable not to soften steepness. Even the hills in the Himalaya’s looked like cliffy mountains.

The peak sitting behind me looked like a stack of pancakes stood on their side and covered in whipped cream. The beauty filled me with peace. My nervousness about the coming weeks was subsiding.

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