Sunday, August 29, 2010
The Heavenly Canvass
20th August 2010....7AM. I am ready for my trek in the valley of flowers. Suman, the cook at GMVN guest house has agreed to be my guide/companion for the trek. Everyone warns us about the rain and the landslide on the way. I am determined to go....We reach the valley gate and move in. The drizzle is heavy and constant, but the scenery is beautiful. We cross the first bridge and the second bridge which is a length of tin kept in place by boulders. The Pushpavati river is swollen and the waters seem to be in a great hurry to go down. The flowers are all familiar, I had just been there the day before. Something above catches my eye and I look...It is a wonderful sight! The blue cones of Abies webbiana...the inky blue dotted with the white resinous oozy secretion looks delicious...like some exotic gourmet ice cream! I click away from every possible angle. There are Barberry bushes laden with ripe red Berries..Suman plucks some and offers..i put one in my mouth very gingerly. Delicious! I pop a handful of them in my mouth. The taste is so unique, so energising!
We meet a group of Valley of Flower enthusiasts; a group of women from all walks of life, pursuing different professions have got together and come all the way, just to experience the valley of flowers!One of them points out an inflorescence of Aconite, royal blue in colour...No one in the group wants to believe that the roots of this plant contain deadly poison which is used as medicine to cure many ailments.
We reach the area of the big landslide. It is actually a melted glacier. The frozen water keeps the incline negotiable, but as soon as the ice melts, everything comes off loose! Now we have to climb up the rocks and come down again to be back on the path to the valley. There are quite a few enthusiastic visitors; a portly gentleman with his tripod and a big SLR camera tries in vain to take a few pictures of the spectacular valley. The rain and the mist make it impossible....
Finally we step into the main land of the valley, and we are greeted by a million Impatiens, Potentilla, Cyananthus, Geranium and Angelica... It is a heavenly canvass of blue, pink, yellow, white and gold and emerald green. I manage to take a few pictures with my Samsung SL 605. I am pleased with results! Thanks to digital technology! The polygonum weeds have taken over everywhere, and the golden ferns are threatening to steal the ground from beneath the delicate Angiospermic herbs. The blue Gaultheria berries are tempting and so are the lovely bell like flowers of Silene. The white Anemone dot the ground and the stately Angelica form pretty white canopies.The pedicularis, Phlomis, Thymus and Fritillarias add to the attraction. I want to keep moving ahead and visit Joan Margaret Legge's Memorial. Suman seems a little reluctant, but I egg him on. We cross the most dangerous bridge; a long piece of tin kept in place by big boulders. The water rushing below the bridge looks menacing. We wade through icy cold water, cross the rickety bridge and wade through some more water to get to the other side. A few hundred meters more to Legge's grave, the signboard says. All our companions have gone back, the rain gets heavier, and Suman is not particularly happy walking towards a grave in such weather! I keep walking, and finally we reach the memorial stone on Legge's grave. The presence is awesome, i can almost visualise the great Botanist, pencil and notepad in hand, walking through the alpine meadows, noting down every single detail. The mist is rising from the meadows up to the hills and the little clouds of mist look like dancing apparitions! The pink Impatiens and Geranium and the white Angelweed make a pretty backdrop for the impromptu performance. I share a bar of Five Star chocolate with Suman, and click a few pictures and decide to return. This time I agree with Suman, we must cross the bridges before they get swept away. A pair of whistling thrushes decide to lead us and keep us company. They flit about amidst the gay profusion of flowers, almost tantalizingly. I want to click their picture but they vanish as soon as i take the camera out of the case. The rain is pelting down heavily and we take shelter under a huge boulder. A Pica( rabbit mouse) peeps from its dwelling place, probably eying for the tit bits that might fall. Suman shares his Aloo Paratha and Sabzi with me. we drink the cold water from the brook gurgling and rushing below and move on. I see some yellow Corydalis, red Potentilla and Epilobium on the way back. There is a bee enjoying the nectar from an Erigeron flower and I manage to capture it on camera. More Lichen festoons greet us on the way back. I click some more pictures of the blue pine cones. We are almost near the gate , the town of Ghangharia looks small and enveloped in the mist. Suman insists that i take a picture with the town as backdrop. I oblige and he clicks...the most nostalgic photograph of the trip!
Next morning 6 AM and I am ready to leave. No mules to take me down to Govind Ghat. The streams on the way are overflowing and no mule wants to cross it. Everyone is waiting for the rain to stop. i move on, my back pack slung on my shoulder I move down to Govind Ghat... Good Bye Ghangharia and the beautiful Valley of Flowers!
Adios! till we meet again,and I am sure I am coming back to see the heavenly canvass once again!