Narrow Escape (day 4)

Day 4: (Khati –Dwali – Phurkiya 16km) Phurkiya - 10,600 ft.
After breakfast, we start the trek at 8:00 a.m. towards Dwali and then eventually Phurkia. We still haven’t managed to find the ice-axe and we know our shoes aren’t good enough to walk on ice. Khati to Dwali is a gradual climb of 11km through dense forest and you tend to walk along a big river flowing besides you. This river is a confluence of two rivers, Pindhari and kafni, both named after the respective glaciers. The riverside can be a great place for camping. Sadly, we aren’t carrying a tent and we have a schedule to follow.
The climb to Dwali is as tiring as the day before. But the sight of river flowing, huge waterfalls, birds diving for fish, is very soothing and keeps us going. Moreover there are so many photo opportunities that I have both my DSLR and the camcorder always on. I am compulsive shooter and on the way to Dwali me and Rajeev get separated. Rajeev moves ahead and is nowhere to be seen. Our next destination is Phurkia, just 5 km but this is the route where we have to cross snow fallen over the flowing streams forming small glaciers, moreover we don’t have the ice-axe and our shoes have gone flat. Rajeev is nowhere in sight, though I am really tired, I keep walking, hoping to catch up with him. This is the first difficult moment on the trek, the weather suddenly changes and it is about to rain, this is where I start to panic. What if I have taken the wrong path that led nowhere ? I curse Rajeev for not waiting for me at Dwali, or maybe he is behind me ? or did he take the wrong route ? I decide to keep walking. The forest is dense and lonely. I see a sign painted on a rock that says “Phurkiya 4Km”, this is a sigh of relief, I am on the right track, but then I am worried about Rajeev, since his shoes are worse than mine. With all this in mind, I hit upon the first patch of snow in front of me. As I look down, the slope is some 60-80 feet, if at all I slip, I would end up sliding straight into the river. I manage to reach almost to the other end and the moment I put my last step forward, the block of snow beneath me sinks and I land 3 ft below into the stream flowing below the ice. I escape unhurt but scared to death for a moment. It’s a narrow escape and here I realize that the trek is not just about physical strength but more psychological. I gather myself up and there is Rajeev behind me, with an ice-axe on his shoulder, it is such a relief, for both of us. We now have the ice-axe, but who the hell knows how to use it ? Rajeev atleast knows in theory how an ice-axe is supposed to be used. The learning curve is steep and we come across 10 such small glaciers. After walking for another 3 hours there is no sign of Phurkiya. Meanwhile the skie turn overcast and it starts to rain. I have developed sores on my feet. It gets very painful and the last 2km, we walk as if we are drunk. Taking every next step is an effort that requires tremendous will power. At about 7:00 pm it is really dark when we see the sign board that reads “Phurkiya TRC” and a group of foreigners waving at us.
We settle in the room and the daily ritual follows, hot water bath, heavy dinner, apply moov all over the body, pop a pain killer and crash in bed. next page >>

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