Short of getting Stoked!

Freezing Manokarma

I tossed and turned in my sleeping bag. I could hear the menacing wind whooshing against the tent. The freezing cold was getting on my nerves. I was burning with fever and I wanted to get a fair amount of sleep at least so that I could make my way to the next camp the following morning. I had spread the DOWN jacket on my sleeping bag, hopeful that it would keep me warm but it was way too cold. Sleeping at 14500 feet was getting very very difficult. I wondered how I would survive the next 8 hours until dawn. I opened my eyes hoping to find some warm clothing, I tried getting up but something was obstructing me. As I switched on my torch and looked about, the tent was all over my legs and it was wet. And I called out to my friend and whispered “Kesu! I think the tent has fallen off.”

Hemis National Park

Three days earlier we had embarked upon the Trek to Stok Kangri!

With wavering courage we decided to trek a bit of Markha Valley and then trek to Stok Kangri.

The bravehearts!
The bravehearts!


We travelled to Zingchen by road from Leh. The ride ended up in a dusty mountain path. The trek trail started from there and we had now entered the Hemis National Park, eastern part of Ladakh, J&K. The park is the abode of snow leopards and the only park in India to the north of Himalayas.

The trail started with a rocky path and with the sun seething hot rays down on us, the trek became very exhausting even with the trail being flat! We stopped for lunch after two hours and gobbled the contents in our lunch box.

Dusty rocky trail from Zingchen to Rumbak
Dusty rocky trail from Zingchen to Rumbak


Later, the trail had a gradual ascent and before long we were at Rumbak. Instead of moving ahead to the village, we took a deviation and headed towards Ganda La base camp.

On the way to Rumbak!
On the way to Rumbak!
Resting at Rumbak
Resting at Rumbak







The trail to Ganda La was a winding path across the mountains, the flora on the mountains were of various and vivid colours, it was a lovely sight to see.


On the way to GandaLa base, Markha valley
On the way to GandaLa base, Markha valley


The last mile from Yurutse to Ganda La camp felt very very exhausting, the sun had already set and I clung on to my trekking pole and strode ahead and thinking about when I would hit the sack.  After reaching the tent and gulping down  hot lemon tea, I warmed myself in the tent and soothed my aching muscles. We had a quick dinner but sumptuous one with chicken and rice. It was the perfect end to a long day.

The next morning was beautiful. Azure sky, brown mountains all around and the stream flowing very near to the base camp. While some of us deliberated on the trek to the Ganda La Pass owing to a very exhausting trek the previous day, we then finally reached a conclusion that we as a team will move on.

Though I was a little hesitant initially, I finally made up mind to at least get to the top of the mountain, if not the pass. I slogged along the trail, it was a steep climb. I knew my body was giving away. But I wanted to figure out how my body would react and whether I would be able to make it to 16300 feet. Because in the next couple of days I would be trying to get on to 20000 feet, all I wanted to know then was whether I could get myself out there.

It was a hard climb, I was half way up the mountain when the last of the trekkers from the base camp brushed past me. One of the guides, from the other trekking group,on the way asked me,


“Juley! where are you from?”

I replied with my fading breath.

He looked around, “Your team members are already way ahead I see, you got to hurry up!”

I said,”I am trying to.”

He again looked at me and said,” You know, you can find marmots and snow leopards out here.”

I looked at the vast expanse of the valley and obviously I could see Marmots here and there but snow leopards now!

“I mean do you find them here, like now now.” I was excited.

He looked at me and said, “Maybe!”

Wow! This was already one hell of a climb and it was getting all the more exciting!

I was determined to reach the mountain. I could see our guide, Lobzang waiting for me at the top. I panted and trailed past the last winding path and there I was, on the top looking at the beauty all around.

I had no energy to make it till the pass and told the guide to carry on and that I would meet him on the way back down.

The view was mesmerising with mountains all over, the valleys looked beautiful and so did the snow clad mountains. I soaked in the silence and the beauty.

Stok Range
Stok Range
Near to Ganda La pass
Near to Ganda La pass






I trudged back down the mountain. My solo trek to Yurutse had just begun.


With no one at my beck or call, surrounded by majestic mountains and the expanse of the valley below, I was all alone but I was one with nature.

I stopped to click a picture or two. I suddenly had a anxiety pang, what if a snow leopard comes along, what would I do?

I buried the thought yet  looking out for a leopard to pounce on me but the mesmerising mountains, the winding terrain and the sun high above my head held me onto a blissful thought. I basked in the silence of the place and all I could hear was my heart beating  and the wind blowing at my face. I felt so puny amongst the wonders of nature.


Way back to Ganda La base camp
Way back to Ganda La base camp


I caught a glimpse of Marmots running around and it was a wonderful sight to see, it looked as though they were racing me down the path. Before I got on to the other side of the stream, I could hear something on the ridge of the mountain- was it a marmot…. snow leopard?, I don’t know even to this day. 😉

I reached the stream enthusiastically, I could now see the Ganda La base camp nearby. I almost sprained my leg, the rock on which I took support fell into the stream but somehow made a quick jump in the nick of time. Music was being played at the canteen but the valley was silent and I could hear only the gushing of water.

I moved past the base camp, I could now see a gaggle of geese running ahead the path and up the valley. I contemplated on the flora on the mountains and the green coloured mountain looked weird but beautiful. Before long, I reached Yurutse to catch up with my team members. After about 30-40 minutes the others came along with the guide.

We marched ahead to our next camp for the night- Rumbak.

Rumbak is a village at 13200 ft with a few households and also has a number of home-stays. After reaching the village we still had to walk a lot to get to our camp. It was on the outskirts of the village. I could sense my legs on the verge of giving away and my willpower was on the last reserve.I trudged along to get to the tent as soon as possible. The tents were put up near to the stream and we refreshed ourselves with hot lemon tea and biscuits.

My body ached and I was way low on energy and I wanted to get back to Leh.

Daunting STOK LA!

But the morning had different plans for me and now filled with hope, I strode on with new zest and energy.

The mountains were utterly fascinating, each step of the trek brought me face to face with the splendour of the mountains. After walking for about an hour, we lost our way and we waited for the guide to light our path. As the guide took us on to the valley and then up a mountain, I could see the big daunting mountain. I could not make out the path way ahead but it seemed like a big wall.

I rested a bit before I could take on the gigantic mountain. I initially thought it would be a straight path obviously uphill but after heaving myself up the winding path I knew this was a serpentine trail and with each turn of the path it would get  all the more difficult. I dragged my body up the path, rested a bit and then got on, the trail was never ending.

Rumbak village as seen from the mountain
Rumbak village as seen from the mountain
Near to Stok La
Near to Stok La







It was with great will power that I scaled up the mountain. My body was now numb to the pain and cold. My breathing was getting worse. I could feel my lungs yelping for more oxygen. It was the toughest climb of my life. But when I reached the top, the Stok La pass, the pain, the difficult climb was all worth it. The pass was at 15900 feet and it was very windy. We had literally climbed about 4000ft. Phew! Had a quick lunch before we headed down the valley to reach our camp. The Ladakh range now was colourful with bright orange and yellow flora. It was beautiful.

Stok La
Stok La
Base Camp after Stok La
Base Camp after Stok La







As we headed down, the valley was utterly cold. After meeting the team at the camp, we all rejoiced our strength and patience to make it to Stok La.

We started off around 9AM the next day. As we trekked across one of the mountains and reached a pass, I saw some white particles floating about. As I turned back, it was SNOWING!

On the way to Manokarma
On the way to Manokarma
The rugged mountains on the way to Manokarma
The rugged mountains on the way to Manokarma







My heart skipped a beat, it was my first snowfall experience and that too on the Greater Himalayas! I could see the mountain tops covered with snow and it was snowing right into my face. I sunk in the moment because this was one memory that would be very close to my heart forever. The wonders of nature take your breath away and all that remains is bliss and love for nature, in your heart. We made to the next pass to catch up with the entire team and rejoiced the snowfall.

My first snowfall at Greater Himalayas!
My first snowfall at Greater Himalayas!
Rejoicing the snowfall
Rejoicing the snowfall







We later trudged down the valley. The last mile took a toll on me. I was literally shivering and down with fever. I could feel my body giving away. All I wanted was warmth and the luxury of a bed and pillow.


And yes the tent was way down on us. We called out to our trek leader. And then the guide with the helpers came along and set up the tent. As we got out of the tent, the brown mountains we had seen in the evening were all covered with snow and it was the weight of the snow on our tent that had sagged it. The mountains looked splendid, each with a snow cap! The rest of the night was a struggle to keep myself warm and waited for the morning, to make up my mind on my next course of action. As I walked out of the tent, I was welcomed with the beautiful sight of snow clad mountains. It was marvellous.

The Stok Kangri Range at Manokarma
The Stok Kangri Range at Manokarma
Our tents!
Our tents!






We were all dejected that we could not go any further as there was a thunderstorm and as the guide pointed out, the path to Stok Kangri would be dangerous and could turn out to be fatal.

So we took an unanimous decision and  packed up and headed to Stok village. The trek back was a straight path with a few uphill trails. Before long we were at one of the mountain passes where we could see the Stok village nestled in between the mountains. On the trail we saw footprints which seemed to belong to the leopard! Well the leopards seemed to be around.

Stok Village
Stok Village


We were happy we were closer to civilization and as we reached the outskirts of Stok village and our camp, we rejoiced the night with sumptuous food and sung our hearts out into the night.

The entire team!
The entire team!


Though we could not complete our trek to Stok Kangri, we all braved enough to take the plunge. It was one of my personal toughest trek and I have learnt a lot more about life in these 5 days of the challenging trek.

Well hoping to make it again when the chance comes along and rightfully get stoked at Stok Kangri!


PC: Pinterest






An aura of change!

“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.” – Og Mandino


On the bridges of Life

As I stand forlorn

There’s a ray of light

Guiding me to be reborn

To tread on a world so new

Yet so typical and taxing

I muse on the space ahead

For there is a wonder basking

Dark as the night can be

As the stars shone and shimmered

I swayed with a flame within me

As the guiding-light drowned me, my eyes flickered!



“In the light, we read the inventions of others; in the darkness we invent our own stories. ” – Alberto Manguel

To love or not to love?

“I’m broke but I’m happy
I’m poor but I’m kind
I’m short but I’m healthy
I’m high but I’m grounded
I’m sane but I’m overwhelmed
I’m lost but I’m hopeful

I’m free but I’m focused
I’m green but I’m wise
I’m hard but I’m friendly
I’m sad but I’m laughing
I’m brave but I’m chickenshit
I’m sick but I’m pretty”

The above is a part of the song “Hand in my pocket” by Alanis Morissette.

There is always two sides to a coin. There is always a story you portray to the world and the story you live within. But at the end it is all YOU.

Why cannot one’s well wishers read through both your stories?

I have been faced with a dilemma. Is it because they fail to see the other underplayed story and think you are conceited by being judgemental or is it because of the fact that they are just jealous?


PC: Pinterest

Hey, I am talking about those well wishers, who know you in and out and claim to do anything for you and always say, ‘I will be there with you along the journey, no matter what!’

Well wishers and jealous! – that too, at the cost of not being a part of your small wins or victories.- I am thoroughly overwhelmed!

I have lately been faced with animosity, resentment and sheer negligence.

But why?





I am just leading my life unconventionally and genuinely trying to inspire the world out there to take on life with their heart. Though it is a struggle, I am just trying to spread the love, message and thoughts. However, I have felt the vibe that I am being conceited.

Being well wishers, can’t they genuinely be happy for me rather than being negligent of my love, work and thoughts.  I have been feeling very uneasy about it because they are the people whom I love and adore the most.

Well am I over reacting or am I thinking too much about people whom I should not consider as well wishers?

What do you think? Have you faced with this dilemma or feeling before?




A romantic story which wakes me up in the morning!

A princess by name Parijataka was ardently in love with the Sun and tried to woo him. But when the Sun rejected her, the princess took her life and a tree sprung from her ashes. As she could not bear the sight of her estranged lover, the tree flowered only at night and shed flowers before the sun rose. The same continues even to this day!

Parijata or Coral Jasmine or Night Jasmine is a beautiful, fragrant flower with white petals and orange stalk. It flowers in the night and sheds the white little flowers before the sun rises. They are claimed to have medicinal properties.

In India, they are found in the Himalayan region, Assam, Bengal, Tripura, Godavari region in the South. They are also found in Pakistan, Nepal, Thailand and Indonesia.


PC: Google Images

There is another myth which says Lord Krishna brought the tree from the Indralok after his wives(Satyabhama & Rukmini) quarrelled over the Parijata flowers. So after winning the war with Lord Indra, he placed the tree in Satyabhama’s courtyard such that when it flowered, the flowers fell in Rukmini’s courtyard. The flowers also symbolize the arrival of Goddess Durga.

Well thanks to the romantic story 😉 , I have to wake up early in the morning, to pick up these flowers strewn on the road outside my house so that they don’t get spoilt or run over by vehicles.

But at the sight of a white carpet of little flowers and the fragrance lingering around the tree, ushers the dawn of a beautiful day!



So back to the old routine….. New?

Back to my routine after a month of an adventurous trip and a month of recouping…..

I tried to sleep early the previous night so that I could get up and go for a walk in the park.

And yes I was up and walking out of the door in no time.

I felt a sense of excitement and happy that I was reconnecting with my set of morning people and my set of things along the way as always.

There were many changes on my way to the park. Firstly, the building which was being constructed right from the foundation, is now all the way done till the first floor.  The ferocious barking dog which used to stare at me while I crossed the road, was now sleeping under a car to avoid the bitter morning cold of November. The park seemed to be all the more crowded but I found my set of people.

The people whom I have never had a conversation with but who are regular joggers in the park who come around the same time as me are ‘my set of people’.

Today I could see just two of my people, the healthy lady with big green headphones and the man who tries to outrun me when I jog. With the ‘Titanium song’ blasting in my ears, I tried to stay ahead of him. I chuckled, at the thought of me winning the race against him.

Well, I headed back home by a different route and as I turned round the corner I could smell the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. Though I am not a coffee person, I was very much taken in by the thought of having coffee!

With James Blunt singing ‘You are beautiful’, I swayed a bit on the road and put on  an upright stride with my head held high and walked as if the path was just laden for me! I later reached home and went about with Yoga.

So after two months, I see many things which have changed and I too have changed hopefully for the better. Maybe I should call it the new routine!

Hope this day turns out to be even more wonderful!


PC: Pinterest