Trip Journal - The Waterfall

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The Waterfall -- 14 November 1998

We slept in and had a great lazy morning. We were going to trek to the waterfall and spend the night. We went to the chai stall to get a quick bite (because the service at the Trek and Dine is so notoriously slow) but it was full and we ended up at the Trek and Dine after all. We ran down to McLeod Ganj to get a few things for the hike and came right back. I had a shower and let the water fill up a bucket, and did some wash afterwards. No waste. We played with Palu, then hiked up to the Rest a While. We had Cokes there and then headed for the waterfall. It was much harder than I had expected. Paul had said that it seemed like the return trip was all uphill so I was expecting a nice downhill walk. Paul kept trying to encourage me by saying that we were almost there, but it just made it that much harder when we still weren't there yet. I can't have been very fun to be with, and Paul was so excited about this trip. But even I had to admit the waterfall was a beautiful spot. Huge boulders separated the various pools. The overhang was perfect and the ground underneath it was absolutely flat. It as cold and cloudy when we first arrived but the sun came out and I sat on a huge rock near the water with the journals and soaked up the rays. Paul went exploring and came back with wood for a fire. Then he took a bath in the pool. In theory this wasn't a bad idea, because we were really sweaty from the hike, but I'd already felt the water and knew how cold it was. Nothing doing.

While we were reclining on the rocks in the sun, a whole family of hay bearers came tripping down the mountain. Must have been their Saturday excursion. It got dark and cold quite early. Paul made a fire, which we stayed around for a long time. Paul went to lie on the rocks and stargaze for a while, they were gorgeous even though we only had a narrow band of sky between the two ridges in view. I stayed by the fire and sang to myself. Once in our snug beds, we again watched stars, but it was much more difficult without the contact lenses in!

The Waterfall -- 15 November 1998

We woke at first light and it was really cold until the sun actually came up over the ridge, which was, or at least seemed to be, quite late. We didn't have a watch so who knows what time it was? We drank tea and ate Marie Gold biscuits around the fire and lay on the sleeping bags waiting for the sun to show up. We could see it on the ridge above us long before we got any of its benefits.

I as so happy to see the sun, it completely altered my mood. We sat out on the rocks soaking up the warmth. Paul went for a walk and I thought I was completely alone, but I looked up from the journal at some noise and found myself surrounded on all sides by monkeys. I got the distinct impression that they were annoyed not to have their usual spot all to themselves. They amused us for quite a while swinging on vines and climbing trees, and making huge leaps between them.

We also had some human visitors, three above us, and two below, entwined on the rocks and not caring or perhaps realizing they were being watched. A French couple arrived, she leaping lithely as a goat, he clumsy and sullen. He offered me some pot, saying, "Shiva speaks to you man." She wanted to climb higher and away from us, but he was too tired to go further and so they stayed. It was about time for us to leave anyway. We had a long walk before sunset. We packed all our gear on the rocks (the sleeping bags had been airing on the rocks all day) and headed down. We encountered a huge bull in the path on the way back. In some places the trail was only four or five inches wide and the dropoff quite steep. You have to wonder how these big fellows manage them. We yelled, "Excuse me!" quite loudly several times and were granted safe passage.

There had been a big party at the Rest a While the night before. The pond in front of the chai stall was empty for some reason, and there were a group of Indian boys with a guitar who might have been leftover from the previous evening. They were singing loudly and dancing quite lewdly with each other. One boy was brushing his teeth at the same time. Weird. Two Austrian guys were just down from Indrahar Pass, where one of them had seen a leopard, although his friend remained skeptical. They'd been in Kashmir and we asked them how it was. They thought the scenery here was just as spectacular, but "the people were all a--holes," they said. We'd been trying not to form the same opinion, but except for Jean and David, every Kashmiri we'd met so far, granted all of them touts or shopowners, had been pushy or slimy.

We told the Austrian guys about the Dalai Lama and the possibility of an audience, since they were planning on being in Dharamsala for a while. We drank Cokes and chatted for a while then realized how dark it was getting (the sun had already set). We left right after the Indians and Austrians and met them just a little way down the trail in the forest. An entire tribe of snow monkeys had just arrived and were climbing high into the fir trees and the clouds were orange and pink behind them. It was an incredible thing to witness -- they have long tails and grey beards and seem so wise. We watched, silent and awed, until way past dark. We nearly ran down the steep trail, full of joy and never missing a step. Which is why it's so weird that Paul tripped and fell near the chai stall at the bottom of the trail. He had twisted his ankle although not badly. He limped home and I put his foot in a bucket of cold water. The next day, it was fine.