Over the past 4 weeks I’ve been pretty strict with myself not to miss any Iyengar classes. Since the beginning, my approach has usually been 4 weeks of focus and 1 week of chill. Perhaps I was a little too strict on my self as I turned down the rare opportunity to hear the Dalai Lama speak. Looking back I probably should’ve given myself some leeway but whatever we’re here now. This has been my week of chill to explore and see Dharamshala outside the world of Yoga.
Before I came to Dharamshala I read that there was rock climbing in the area and so my primary aim was to do some climbing and upgrade to an AirBnb for the week. However, when I asked my AirbnB host about climbing, my question was met with confusion. Turns out, there is no climbing in Dharamshala :(. This actually made me very upset as I haven’t climbed for 3 months now and that’s by far the longest in the 2+ years I’ve been climbing. I hadn’t really thought about alternatives but figured when in doubt, get lost in nature! More specifically a high altitude lake called Kareri Lake. The trek was supposed to take 5 hours to go up and 3 hours to go down so I figured 1 day would be enough.
After a 2 hour drive and a sore ass, I reached the end of a mountainous road at 8am. I looked at the driver and asked where the trail starts. His head swivelled around to survey the surroundings and he then pointed in a very specific direction with great confidence I might add. So I headed off in that direction and found a nice trail. Eventually the trail dwindled into a narrow muddy path, I kept on believing and followed it until there was no path. Fortunately, I could see the progress I made through Google Maps and soon realised that I spent 1.5 hours going completely the wrong way. I should’ve known that my driver was no trekker from looking at his belly. I was too lost to even make it back to the road so I simply headed down and found a rest house. Too much time had passed for me to go up and down in one day so I asked the rest house for a tent, a guide and food supplies to stay overnight up at the lake. Within 30 minutes, I was off again and heading directly towards the lake. The real trail was easy to follow as it ran parallel with a rocky stream. Along the way there were small snack shacks where I could get my chai. After 10 chai’s or so, I arrived at the lake at 2pm. There were precisely 4 people, me, my guide and 2 sheep herders chilling at a shiva temple, I was loving it! Of course, I had to go for a dip in the lake. As expected, the water was frosty. What was unexpected was the soil, it was like quicksand and I sunk high into my shins. I crapped myself and ran frantically towards dry land. Bear Grylls would have done the same, no doubt.
Since I wasn’t expected to stay over at the lake, I had no entertainment. I did have nature though, I basically followed my guide around and mimicked everything he did. We chilled at the Shiva Temple overlooking the lake, chopped wood, and made Maggi for dinner. If you don’t know, the entire Indian nation lives off Maggi which is a essentially Pot Noodle. In my head it was my initiation and after eating the Maggi, I became a true local. No one is allowed to call me a coconut anymore.
The lake was of course the highlight of the week. This was closely followed by the food at my AirBnb. It was run by a married sikh couple, Jasvinder and Gurpreet. They are both self-proclaimed foodies and love to put smile on their guests faces through cooking some amazing food. OK, it wasn’t the healthiest but I didn’t care as the food was made with love and so much taste!
They don’t cut corners in this household. Everything is made from scratch, from fermenting the dosa mixture, growing the potatoes, making lychee or apple juice, you name it! While the food was making me happy, it also made my stomach hurt at times and 1 week was more than enough. Cheat week over, time to get back on it next week.