I went for a Himalayan trek to Dayara Bugyal organized by the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation. Thanks to Atul for organizing this at my request.
Why did I do it? I wanted to push myself and see how I managed. Moreover, I was curious about the mountains and life there and about climbing.
In addition, I wanted to try the vOICe on the trail.
I will not give a blow-by-blow account of the trek because that will prove to be boring.
We started from the village of Barsu and then went up to Bernala and then on to Dayara.
I had tried checking on mobile phone connectivity and electricity supply. No go. I cannot comment on Barsu because I was there for about 30 minutes.
Beyond Barsu, you are on your own. I had carried a number of battery packs to power my phone and run the vOICe. As an aside, mobile phones are quite useless after Barsu because there is no signal. Yes, there are places where you get BSNL and Idea but they are few and far between.
I had planned to use the vOICe but I was focused a little too much on the trail and where I placed my feet. Was it the fear of falling? Perhaps.
One thing, for a blind person, I do recommend a hiking pole. You can use it like a white cane in a pinch and it does give you support in terms of balance.
I was however able to use the vOICe while we were at camp and took some random shots at other times. Yes, I was playing tourist.
I have written about taking pictures with the vOICe before on this blog. I wanted to check if I could see distant mountains and other features like snow on the peaks above us and the whole mountain, clouds and sky experience. There is no other way to perceive this.
I was successful. I saw a mix of dark and light with different textures. Mountains were hard sort of dark shapes while clouds were these shapes that were bright and soft. There was sunlight between these which had no shape but was bright.
I did see plenty of grass, rocks and the camp in general. Nothing new to report there. Tent poles are these long bright objects which tent walls are these curving things that fill a large chunk of the view.
It is important to have a fish-eye lens to get a large slice of the view. An ordinary webcam would make the process tedious. It would be doable but you would need to turn your neck frequently to acquire more slices of the view.
Lining up the camera is also a shade challenging because I had to remember the exact height of what I wanted to photograph. Mind you, there were times I just took random shots without focusing on anything which lead to some surprising results.
I had to beware of the trees. I needed an unobstructed view of the mountains and the trees kept coming in the way.
- Keep a hiking pole handy. You can use it for balance as well as like a white cane. The pole will help you gauge the depth of steps and height you need to step when ascending.
- Boots help keep leaches away.
- You need to plan and prepare before you go. If you have a physical limitation, then get creative.
- Try to enjoy the trail and do not over focus on where your feet are going. You will balance.
- Himalayan water is tasty and is the best cure for exhaustion therefore, it must be drunk every time you get an opportunity. Yes, you drunk it directly from a stream.
- Keep a rain poncho handy. Mountain weather is changeable and you cannot predict what will happen.
- Keep a powerful flashlight handy in case you have escorts who have difficulty seeing in the dark.
Here are the images I took.