Another great trip to Siri Hemkunt Sahib!
The students have returned from another great Hemkunt trip. The trip started out with a 7 hour train ride to Haridwar, followed by a 2 hour bus ride to Rishikesh where we stayed at the Rishikesh Gurudwara. The next morning we started the winding journey, by bus, up the foothills of the Himalayas. We were told the trip would take anywhere from 14 to 20 hours, depending on if there were any landslides blocking our way. We got there in 12 and so the students spirits were high as we arrived at first checkpoint, Govindh Ghat. Here we relaxed for the night enjoying local food and not so local but equally exciting Dr. Pepper and A&W Root Beer! The next day we set off on the first leg of the hike, 12 KM (7.5 miles) of up hill hiking.
The view from the trail is spectacular, towering mountains frame the stone trail which follows the magnificent Ganga river. Students walked side by side with donkeys and basket carrying porters enjoying the cool weather and feeling like they had been stransported into the past. We stopped every so often to enjoy some Cha and a fresh cooked Parantha at the many break stalls along the way. That night students trickled into our Hotel where they enjoyed dinner and card games (card games seemed to dominate the hours of free time that we had during this trip) then we rested and woke up early the next morning to hike the second leg of the hike, which would bring us to the summit of our journey, Siri Hemkunt Sahib Gurudwara. This leg is much shorter, only 7 kilometers, but much harder due to the steepness of the trail. That afternoon the students reached the end, finally they had made it! At the top the students dipped in the freezing water of the Hemkunt Lake, then warmed up with deliciously hot Cha and simple Kichiri. Everyone was excited to have reached the top. Ahhhhhh! this is why we came! On the way back down the students took an excursion to the Valley of Flowers. For many this flatter and scenic side hike was a highlight of the trip.
The trip was different for everyone. We had veterans who had been to Hemkunt three times before and we also had new students who had never been. For some the trip was easy for others the most difficult trip of their lives, but at the end we were all a little closer, having overcome the hardships along the way to bond as a unified student body and all the more ready to take on this coming school year.