Day 2 started with the outside temperature of -7 ºC. But the cold did nothing to dampen our spirits. Since Day 1 was just an acclimatization trek, this was going to be our first real test of stamina.
As during the previous day, we had our breakfast and started at around 9-30 am. Day 2’s route took us along some beautiful farmlands, with the Beas river below.
Since we were on top of a hill, we proceeded to climb down and soon reached the river. After stopping for an hour to relax and click some pictures, we started on our way. Lined with apple trees (with no leaves because of the cold), the path turned out to be a treat for our eyes (which were accustomed to seeing concrete jungles).
Along the way, we saw some of the government schemes bearing fruit as there were numerous toilets for the local people under construction. We passed farms full of vegetables beside the river. We were all excited, chatting away like school kids. Seeing our happiness, our tour guide suddenly flashed a knowing smile and then we knew that we would be hitting our first tough climb of the tour.
And true enough. The climb started gently at first and soon became steep. Even those who were relatively fit found it hard to climb in one go and had to stop momentarily to take in a few breaths. The “unfit” ones were left far behind. As we finished the first climb in about an hour or so, our guide gave us a much-needed rest. We were soon back on our feet and after another long climb, reached the Jagatsukh temple to have our lunch.
Earlier the capital of the Kullu region and currently the largest village in the area, Jagatsukh lies about 6 kms to the south of Manali and is famous for its old Shiva temples. The temples are well known for being built in the Shikara style. We had lunch in the verandah facing the temple, which on account of its heritage, is considered a monument of national importance.
After having lunch, we once again proceeded on our way. The leafless apple trees followed us through and under the hills, back again along the Beas river till we reached our hostel safely in the evening.
Later that day, as we were relaxing with our cup of hot soup and a round of gupshup in the frigid weather, thinking about how hard the day’s climb had been, our camp manager informed us that Day 3 was going to be the toughest as we had to climb 8 kms upon a hill. Halfway upon the hill, would be the snow line. There would be little or no grip on the way and the chances of accidents there were high. The manager asked us to give our tired legs all the rest they could get, for they were going to be grinded the next day. Then he went away laughing.
I wondered why all the people who love the mountains laugh at the plight of others who have come from the city. I was still wondering when I fell asleep as soon as I hit the bed.