How much further is Triund?
Local: “another hour or two depending on how fast you walk?”
“Is it safe to trek back if it gets dark?”
Local: “No, there are bears in this jungle. There was an attack only a couple of months ago”
“Is there anything we can do if we encounter a bear?”
Local: “You don’t need to do anything, the bear will take care of everything.”
One afternoon, me and my next door neighbor-turned-friend from the guesthouse decided to trek to Triund. She was confident of making it back before dark and given she is a veteran to McLeodganj, I trusted her.
2 hours later we were still nowhere close to our destination. We stopped by the only stall on route the trek and made our inquiries, which led to the insight of bear sightings in the jungle surrounding us. Apparently, we should have started early morning if we planned to return.
It was fairly clear we had to spend the night on Triund, and neither of us had any idea what it was like up there. We didn’t carry any supplies and had little cash.
Once we reached the top, all thoughts of returning vanished. A green sloped plateau and the open sky with dhauladhar range on one end and endless valley over the other. Although it was cloudy and misty, we had our breaks for views as dusk slowly settled in.
It started getting dark, so we needed to find a place to sleep. There was a guesthouse but it seemed to be occupied by few punjabi guys who started an early party. That makes me wonder, why does anyone go to the quietest of places after a hard days trek to play loud music, drink, dance and make noise. Whatever happened to places called pubs or party adda’s in the city?
We spoke to the owner of one of the two stalls and explained our situation. Even though we were a little short on money, he offered us a tent, sleeping bags, tea and dinner. And so we settled in for the night watching the stars, cows, horses, clouds and distant hills. We were both excited by our unplanned mini adventure.
Our host served us hot rice with dal for dinner. We learnt that one day he trekked to Triund, just like us, loved it so much that he decided to spend the rest of his life there. Two decades on, he continues to live on Triund only going down to get his supplies; or when the weather gets worse. He chose not to marry and made the small stall his home. We couldn’t help but marvel at how easily he seemed to have made that choice and stuck to it, just the sheer simplicity of it!
We soon headed to our tent and blissfully slept. The following day we woke up just in time to get a clear view of the mountain range before clouds masked it.
What we were unaware was that our host did not sleep the night to ensure that the partying parade did not bother us. Although they did not, apart from couple of lewd invitations before we retired to our tent, it was enough for our host to get concerned. His gesture for our safety was so kind and reassuring that it turned what was an ordinary day into an extraordinary one. We couldn’t have been more thankful. After a hot breakfast, we said our goodbyes and descended, excited and in high spirits.