Frost devoured my sleeping back as I awake to see Mr. Andy Crider, our staff chaperone, shaking our tent to wake us up. My tent-mates and I woke up, slowly exiting our warm confinement in the tent and entering an even, cooler realm outside.
Multiple jackets, gloves, and pants engulfed our bodies, trying to create some sort of insulation. As we went out, we could see little rays of coagulated sunlight, warming us.
At that part of the trip, we had finally reached our destination, Ruinsara Tal — a lake situated at an elevation of 3658 meters. The trip spanned for six days; the first three were set to reach the top of the mountain (where the lake was) — while the other two were designed so that we could reach back to our starting position.
As we hiked along on top of the mountain, we encountered multiple landslides, waterfalls, and breathtaking views. We even had to cross dodgy bridges that felt shook every time someone walked on it.
The infamous saying, “Ruinsara Tal, it’s five kilometers, that’s all” emerged as we trekked, because of the constant inquiry of students about how much more walking was left before we reached the respective campsites.
Reaching our campsites, most of us were surprised to see that it was clean. Our staff chaperones, Mr. Crider and Mr. Ed Beavan, often reminded us of the importance of maintaining “zero-footprint[s]” (leaving no sign of human activity in an area) wherever we moved.
This week-long trek taught many of us the importance of solitude in our busy school lives.
To be finally isolated from technology and left alone to the wilderness was a liberating experience. The silence of nature and the isolation from society made us reflect on our lives. But most importantly, it taught us discipline — by experiencing the beauty of nature, we realized that we needed to preserve it.
On our ascent to the lake, this intersection of mountains (situated at the tree line) provide me with both the confidence and commitment to finish this incredibly difficult yet rewarding trek.
We finally reached the lake, made camp and were left to enjoy the solitude that is present at the high mountains. The lake was not deep, it was merely 10-15 centimeters in depth, but for most of us, a lake existing at such a high altitude was amazing as it was.
During the morning after the day we arrived at the camp near the lake, we went on a short hike to see the sunrise on some of the peaks around us. As the sun slowly showed on the mountain-tops, our hearts lightened seeing the illuminated reflection of light reflecting on the snow peaks.
Walking down from the snow peaks, we caught the reflection of the lake as well.
Walking through multiple ridges and valleys, we came across beautiful intersections of mountains — creating surreal views and breathtaking moments.
Trekking alongside multiple rivers, the crashing, and rushing of water helped to calm our hearts and recollect our thoughts during times of adversity during this hike.
In our industrialized society, machines have replaced nature in cleaning our belongings. Watching a local washing her clothes at a river, it made it evident to us that technology has increased the ever-growing disparity between man and nature.
At the end of each long, arduous day, the staff chaperones and students would gather around a campfire for s’mores. With chocolate filling our bellies, we mustered up the energy to trek for another day.
The sun sets and our faces light up as another day has ended. As we climb in altitude and walk those long hours, we remind ourselves of the pain and struggle we go through during walking and the satisfaction after.
Abiral Lamsal was the photographer for all of the photos in the article.
Ryan Bajaj contributed to this article.