Triund - the meeting of the three paths - is a camping ground on the top of a ridge next to Moon Peak. It's where you can look at the wall of the snow-capped Himalayas looming up on one side, and the Dharamsala valley on the other. And that's where we're going.
Early Sunday morning. Nip in the air. been years since I smelt the dew. We start walking at 7 am; after having convinced everyone to be awake at 6:30, we are for once and the first time during the entire journey, on time. The trip upwards is accompanied by SK choosing Lord of the Rings as a suitable topic of conversation for the long trip upwards (or possibly one that would last long enough) so as we walk, every few minutes the mountain breeze carries snatches of words, phrases up to us from the couple below. "Gandalf the Grey..." "Boromir..." "The Ring-bearer..." "Evil Eye of Sauron..." "Mordor..." "hobbits..." "Elves are a very evolved species..." which went on for several hours, giving the walk a slightly mythic, unreal quality.
At the halfway point between Macleodganj and Triund is the 'oldest' chai shop, proudly advertising the fact. There was also a dreamcatcher hung up outside it; the first one I've seen. It looked like a gift from a tourist; none of the other shops sported anything like it or even near it.
It took us nearly four hours to walk up the nine km; frequent stops, hot ginger tea, photo breaks, rest breaks, water breaks... and finally we're at Triund.
It's a flat expanse of green, with three chai shops, a forest bungalow, a hut, and a couple of tents. Lots of ghurals roaming around, and mountain sheperding dogs. We spread out a blanket on the ground, and in the slightly chilly mist (the sun was gone behind clouds now) it was radiating heat. I don't know how. Almost too hot to sit on, and unbearably delicious.
M was completely taken with a baby goat and spent several happy minutes with it, letting it go only very reluctantly.
Had Rice, dal, and an omelette each; I swear food is so good when you're tired and cold, it's incredible. I could have eaten this for the rest of my life. S and SK decide to head back to Bhagsu; M and I want to try the glacier, now that we're here. It's an area called the Laka Got, which our guide calls 'Ilaka' for some reason. (btw - guys, meet Raju Kumar, the best guide I've had so far in the last three years of trekking; and you have to look him up when you're there)