Gunji - A Day of Rest and Medical Test

Trip Start Aug 19, 2006
Trip End Sep 13, 2006

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

It was still dark when I awake. The clouds have receded and the sky is a limpid turquoise blue, luminous with stars. There is a hint of silver lining of predawn light. A beam of light emanating from behind the hills is absorbed in the depths of the sky and edges of the serrated hills get luminescent with refracted light. It blossoms into deep red glow which gives way to pink and finally to bright shine to eastern sky as the red hot disc of sun slowly emerges in the horizon. The sky loses its silvery sheen and turns a dull blue hue. Stars shy away from sun's presence. Thus wakes the sky and dawn comes with all its freshness and purity; a cosmic clock of change and progress. The birds are ready to ride the new sky. They are already there somewhere to greet it with the cacophony of their music. The cool breeze brings the fragrance of the flowers from far away. And I survey the scenario with joy. A beautiful dream I see with my eyes open... a spell so attractive and bewitching.
 Camp Gunji
Gunji is open and extensive treeless flat land at a height of 3220 metres above sea level. Situated at the confluence of River Kali coming from Lepulekh and Kuthi coming from Adi Kailash, our camp is about 50 meters above the confluence. River Kuthi is much bigger river, but after the confluence it takes the name of Kali. There is a helipad that has potential for an airstrip for small aircrafts. The lower, gentler slopes of the hill on the foreground are covered with pine forests while the upper half is precipitous and devoid of vegetation. Loosely embedded in these slopes are huge granite rocks that may roll down any time on the level terraces which are already strewn with giant rocks and boulders. 
 River Kali at Gunji
We are all very happy as it is a day of rest for us after three-day continuous walk of nearly 50 km. It is a day to laze out in the open. Though the sun is red it is not hot as yet. These idle moments are ideal to de-stress. We relax amid the sylvan beauty of the camp which has its own charm and happy air.
Api Mountain of Nepal 
Here we undergo a thorough health check up after our three-day long trek. Those who are not found fit are disallowed from going any further and sent back as the trek ahead is very strenuous and hazardous. The medical check-up is intense. It is done by team of qualified ITBP Doctors and happily all of us are found fit to undertake rigours of the journey ahead.
Here, we interact closely with the ITBP personnel. They tell us about the harshness of winter, when the entire area including hills, trees, bushes and grass are under thick blanket of snow when temperature falls below zero degrees, a hot cup of coffee turns ice within few minutes and every thing freezes. When snow falls, every thing stands still. It's all quiet. The soft and feathery snowflakes descend slowly, dancing all the way down from fairy land high in the sky and gently settle in heaps. The landscape turns milky white and dazzles in sunshine. The entire population of the land along with their cattle migrate to lower valleys. Wild animals like the leopard, musk-deer, mountain-goat, mountain-sheep, barahsingha, wild-boar, black and brown bear and birds like the monal and koklash pheasants, snow-pheasant, etc, migrate to warmer zones down in valleys where they are at the mercy of poachers.
Today every thing is relaxed and peaceful; even the time moves drowsily. The day seems to drag on. Evening slowly comes. The sun looks pale and tired, finally sinks behind the mountains. A few sunrays still lingering on top of mammoth dark mountains. These hills are living poetry, vibrant with life and energy. Hidden in them are Nature's treasure -- minerals, herbs, flowers, fruits and roots of great medicinal value to humans, still protected from the greed of man. They are steep, wild and massive, perhaps mostly untrodden by humans and silently standing as if in deep meditation, undeterred and unmoved.
There is chill in the air and frost has started falling. Stars glitter in the deep blue sky. Indeed nothing can be as heart warming as the beauty of nature; it is so vibrant and living. Man-made creations may have glitter in them but are only lifeless.
The Long day is gone and with that the 6th day of our yatra, adding one more day to the long history of the earth. Tomorrow is yet another day; a new bud will bloom at dawn, with new hope and challenges.
 Today is Amawashya, the fourteenth day of the dark nights. We may sight new-moon tomorrow.
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