A bright morning, with an almost indigo sky - Day 3 on the Rupin trail
Having a roof above one's head assumes a deeper meaning when you find a house to sleep in at night during a trek. We discovered this meaning that night at Jhakha. Phones (not that it would matter any more, except to take notes) and cameras charged and bodies adequately rested in the warm comforts of the guest-house, we were all charged to brave the long day ahead of us.
The trial immediately started rising and after a half-hour of brisk ascent, we were far above the village, passing through fields like the one in this photo. The Rupin was still flowing to our right through a V-shaped valley (which meant that we were still hiking up the true right bank of the river) but at a considerable depth below the level of the trail, with a barely audible murmur. It was a wonderful morning, the air was crisp and the sun shone brightly from behind the high ridge on the left bank of the river. Ahead, the valley appeared to have turned to the right, as high mountains stood in the way, snow in their high crags glistening in the bright morning sun.
Very soon, though, we were inside a dark forest of firs, following a well-beaten and almost level path. At the point where the trees petered out, the path disappeared under a massive snow bridge a hundred feet across across and, at least, as wide. A snow-bridge is a solid arc of ice across a stream, or a crevasse, or any long crack in the rock. It starts with the winter snowfall as a cornice that grows to completely envelop the opening. Over a stream, it literally is a bridge that enables humans and animals to cross over to the other side. In early summer, the snow bridge thins at the middle, then breaks off (only to be visible at the edges, where you will mistake them for white rock, as we did in Sonmarg many years ago) and finally completely melts away with the advent of warm weather. This was first of many we would come across during the trek, and was already brown, slippery and altogether visually unimpressive. The trekkers couldn't care less, though, and howls of excitement accompanied impromptu photo sessions.
We climbed up from the snow-bridge on to a hillock and realized that now we were on the left bank of the river. In the next ten minutes, we had descended to the level of the river, taking our first break of the day and filling our bottles with water from the river that was fresher, cleaner, colder and more wholesome that any bottled mineral winter one would have ever tasted.