I looked around and found no trail, only a makeshift flag blowing from an iron post. It was 10 am , altitude of above 5000 meters and a snow storm with an ever increasing intensity was already at play. We were already delayed due to a friend giving up at a precarious turn. I would not blame him for him being a first time trekker, this narrow path with a deep valley below could have been intimidating for even the regular ones. A slip , any carelessness and you are done, to be buried in snow in the mighty Himalayas. We had to move on, we had no option for the clear sky gave us the best opportunity to cross the pass that day. We had lost few hours and so the last of the trekkers attempting the pass that day. I was leading my friends for there was no option, someone had to go for it . I looked back and far off I could make out one of my friends, slowly, crawling they were coming. So my job was to look for the next flag post and from there to look out for the next flag post and carry on for this was the only way out.
All throughout our 12 days of trek we had imagined this picture in our minds, of getting clicked together at Thorang La, 5416 meters, 17769 feet. But destiny had something else in mind , I was there all alone at the highest point in the trail. They correctly say that you are loneliest at the top , did not expect it to be so lonely. I took out my mobile, was saving some battery all these days for this moment. It was a special moment, I felt elated , thanked my stars and offered a small prayer to the mighty mountains.
I just closed my eyes and thought about the last 12 days on the trail , of the cold , of too cold, of waterfalls, of snow and too much snow, of seeing the mighty Annapurna from various vantage points , of macaroni for breakfast and deal bhaat for dinner, of black tea, of beer with friends while it snowed outside, of fingers getting totally numb , of shivering and shivering and shivering, of gazing at the stars and so on and on.
This was it, had never thought to be here that too with so little preparation. ” The Indians did it”, was the only sentence we heard when we entered the Bob Marley cafe for post trek celebrations , and we deserved it for we did it in sports shoes, two pairs of socks, two pair of gloves and wore all the clothes we had.
Reaching the top was an overwhelming experience , I thanked and prayed to the mountains to be kind for future endeavors, I did not cross the Thorang La pass on my will, the mountains made me do so.