THE DAUNTING TREK (DAY 4)
That silent morning as I opened my eyes and unraveled my sheets, a husky voice uttering tea ruled the gloomy wooden room. Bed tea with the window view of the sunkissed hills of Thanamir was a perfect combination.
As the clock hit 6:30 a.m, we headed towards the forest with two villagers as guides. The daunting trek involved continuous ascend and descend of hills. To maintain that balance of training the mind to repeat the entire phenomenon was indeed challenging. However, the clouds that flew alongside fueled us to move forth.
A rock wall that is approximately 50 feet steep was the biggest challenge of all. To have climbed that with no ropes or climbing gear boosted our self-confidence. The self-awareness of grasping the right grips of the rock holds was the key.
Marching through the narrow dark uneven path, our team of 16 split into two groups. The ones ahead carried the food materials and the latter followed. Though I was with the first group, my legs couldn’t match their speed. Exhausted for having walked more than 7 hours, I bid them goodbye.
In a forest, away from everyone, hiking the rest of the trail solo was interesting. As I embarked on my solitary trek, I embraced the warmth of Mother Nature by kissing the bark of a tree. Amidst the forest nearing a top of a hill, every time I saw the glary sky through the spaces of the groves, an imaginary picturesque ‘base camp’ would come to my mind. Surprisingly that would prove to be just another hilltop. Reaching an edge I took a nap for 10 minutes. As my eyes opened, two clouds approached each other and beside them where the majestic range of towering Patkai hills. Gazing upon them and enjoying the phenomena uninterrupted was soothing. Coming back to reality, I found my bottles empty and no sweets to keep my mouth wet. Eating the purple coloured berries from the dark-edged rock surfaces saved me from dry mouth and other illnesses. Drinking the cold water of the stream after 10 hours of hiking was pure happiness. Uncertain whether I was following the right track, it was solely instinct that helped me reach the base camp.
THE SUMMIT AND THE UNRELENTING NIGHT TREK (DAY 5)
Defying the darkness, we ascended the giant hill beside the base camp for 2 hours to be finally blessed by the orange hues of the sun. The flora with strong roots worked as a trekking stick to support our steps in most of the edged slopes. Walking by the cliffs and slopes, a slight change of the body angle would have led to a broken body or even death. The aroma of flowers welcomed us as we neared the peak. Summiting the peak at 9:30 a.m, the happiness of being the first team and the youngest lad from Assam to summit the mountain felt empowering.
The Mt. Saramati bid us farewell with drizzle. We arrived at the base camp by 2 p.m, only to realize the scarcity of food. An unrelenting night trek awaited us. Everyone hoped to descend that 50 feet rock before nightfall. Our feet ached; the soles felt as if they were being pricked by a needle. For the number of times I fell in those lumpy roads, folks named me “Gravity”. I still cherish the moment when after having climbed the hill, I saw the glittering stars and the chain of hills it illumined. It was my dream to view such night scenes.
The rain by midnight aggravated our situation. We slipped and slid along the muddy trail. Our minds were baffled when we couldn’t recognize the cut marks of the trees that guided the trail. Hiking for another 3 hours, we decided to camp in the forest.
I distinctly remember that particular moment of tying a rope into a branch of tree with drenched clothes to fix the plastic sheet thus to shun the rain. I literally felt like I was as in a dream and the moment I wake up, I would be in Thanamir Village. Sleeping around 3 a.m. on that narrow edged path in a lateral position was, in fact, the weirdest sleep I have ever had.
TRIUMPH (DAY 6)
An hour of sleep rejuvenated us. It was 4 a.m, misty morning and drizzle. The guide made us ascend and descend two hills the opposite way – a funny and an infuriating episode. The jubilation of recognizing the bark I kissed cured my aching body. Seeing the village from a hilltop gave us a sense of relief. We reached Thanamir by 7 in the morning, successfully completing the expedition. Fearing that my sole would bleed, I hesitated to take off my socks. The sole was as rugged as the hills of Saramati.
What followed next is hard to recall as I slept the whole journey from Thanamir to Pungro. Though we had plans to celebrate by dancing Bihu, soothing ourselves through sleep tended to be solace for everyone.
HOMECOMING ADVENTURE (DAY 7)
The rain continued as it bid goodbye to us. We left Pungro early through the thick fog and heavy rain. It was another 16-hour to Dimapur. Stopping by Kohima, the city revealed its enchanting beauty. That journey through the busy traffic at night, the driver deciding to take a shortcut to Dimapur while we enjoyed the mesmerizing views of the bustling Kohima’s night sky and finally reaching the Railway station by 11 p.m was amazing. Surprisingly, we missed the train and had to board another at 3 a.m. The expedition concluded the next day in Guwahati with GAA Founder and General Secretary Bikram Boro greeting us with sweets and love.
To perceive the strength within, we ought to put us in circumstances that test our limits. The Mount Saramati trek transformed me into a more vibrant human being. Experiences empowers the soul.