Sometimes, when you set off on a trip, all you aim to do is have some fun, explore some new place, learn something new and may be have a little bit of excitement.
But adventure seems to follow you and grabs you in the unlikeliest of ways 🙂
It was October 2014 and I was on a trip to Himachal Pradesh with 5 guests. It was the first of my organised trips, much before I’d realised or planned on becoming a travelpreneur.
As part of the exploration of the Kangra valley, that included McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala and Bir-Billing, we were undertaking a mild trek to Bara Gaon from Billing with an overnight camp. We started the trek around mid morning on a path that meandered through a forest, through some spectacular landscapes.
As we neared sun down, it was fun finding a field suitable to put up our tents (carried on horseback), while our trek guide and hostess Suman, lit up a fire and made us a Thai dinner in the middle of nowhere.
Suman is from Himachal but works with our host Frank, who runs a boutique property called 4Rooms in a hamlet called Gunehar, off Bir. It is where we had stayed for one night enjoying the hospitality and the comfort of the rooms.
Winter was beginning to set in and that night, we’d curled into our sleeping bags, and waking at the crack of dawn. After a scrumptious breakfast, it was time to pack up the campsite and begin walking towards Bara Gaon.
Suman was concerned. Because our pace of walking was not fast enough. She and the horse man (who also happened to be her uncle), came to the group with a proposal saying that they knew a shortcut that would reduce about 3 kms of walking. Only hitch was that we would have to cross a “wood bridge”.
All of us were okay with it. Reducing walking time was enticing because I was nursing an injured toe and was unable to walk too fast. We discussed the matter and all of us imagined the wood bridge to be a bridge made of wood, one of those suspension bridges, we thought.
We gave Suman the go-ahead and followed her as she led us towards the “wood bridge.”
It was only when we reached the spot we were in for a surprise.
There’d been a landslide and one side of a mountain had shaved off its vegetation and a tree from this landslide had fallen across a roaring river, that we were supposed to cross. This was the wooden ‘bridge’.
As far as we could see, there were two challenges before us – one was to slide down the mountainside without hurting ourselves and the other was to cross the river walking over the “wood bridge.”
Suman’s uncle and Suman began holding our hands and walking us down the treacherous mountainside. The soil was loose and it was dangerous to take a step without proper footing. One wrong move could result in grievous injury as the foot of the mountain was covered with rubble – pointy shrubs, branches of trees and stones – debris of the landslide.
We uttered a prayer and began the arduous process, taking each step with utmost caution. It took about 15-20 minutes but we reached the bottom of the mountainside safely. The adrenalin rush was something else! For most of us, this was our first ever experience of something so drastic and adventurous, something out of the ordinary that was unplanned and took us by surprise.
As a trip organiser, my only concern was everyone’s safety and I knew that one wrong move could lead to disaster. So I convinced everyone to take it slow and easy and take the help of both Suman and her uncle who grew up in these parts and would know how best to tide over this situation. Thankfully for me, everyone understood.
Then we had to cross the river. The bark of the tree was slippery and thankfully, Suman’s uncle helped each one of us cross over to the other side.
We walked for about 2.5 hours and reached Bara Gaon, from where our taxi picked us and transported us to our boutique hotel in Gunehar.
This was a wonderful memory to cherish and I always end up recalling this trip in the month of October. This year, I thought I’d just write about it 🙂