LOST [In Lake Tilicho]

[Recently, I have been doing a lot of writing for my Advanced English Prose class and we were given this assignment to write a travel narrative on any given topic. I thought I might just as well share what I had to create. The facts discussed here are slightly skewed and "mirch- masala"ed  to get the readers attention and score points but Alex did get lost in Tilicho. And we did panic. I was the one basically shitting my pants off when we finally realized the gravity of the situation. At the end though, everything went surprisingly well. And yes, Alex Mote did volunteer to go so that he could shed some pounds but ironically, gained some more instead.]


       Dead silence greeted us as we made our final accent to Lake Tilicho. The view of the highest water mass in the world was still distorted by an enormous boulder in front of us but we knew we were almost there. The air was thin, the wind was blowing north and there was not a person in sight. We didn’t expect anyone to be loitering around at an altitude of 4200 meters anyways. I could hear Alex behind me huffing and puffing, trying to get oxygen in his lungs to get his massive body moving. In a way, deep inside, I felt an enormous guilt at having convinced him to come trekking with us, but at the same time, felt proud of what he had been able to achieve. Besides, he said he wanted to shed some weight. This was the perfect opportunity. 

“There it is!” cried out Hada, who was the sportiest of the bunch and had leaped ahead to reach the top of the boulder. “You guys have to see this!”

Arrival: Mt. Tilicho and Lake Tilicho in complete harmony

I paced myself forward until I saw it too. The view was breathtaking; Mt. Tilicho had its magnificent white posture firmly grounded on the banks of lake as the lake itself stood still, undisturbed and pure. Legend has it that Lord Shiva, one of the three supreme Hindu gods, would descend to earth once in a while to plunge into the lake and bathe. I could see why. The water was crystal clear, with only its depth denying me to look any further down. Hada suggested that we descend and get our bottles filled for our return trek and so, we set ourselves in motion again to much annoyance of Alex. There was still a good 100 meters down before we could actually touch the crisp glacier water and it was starting to get dark. We had to move fast.

 Anupe's selfies

On our way down, I noticed that Alex had conspicuously stopped making exasperated sounds so I quickly glanced back to see if he was ok. To my horror, he wasn’t even there. It was as if he had simply disappeared from the face of the earth.  I remember quite vividly that he was complaining about how he hadn’t had lunch and so I thought he must have gone back to the top of the boulder again. Anup, who was planning a career in acting after the trip, volunteered to go and check up on him. After all, he loved drama. We duly obliged. 

Half an hour on the clock and we still had heard nothing about Alex. A day before, at the modest hotel we were guests in, the notice board section was full of papers which were headlined in bold “PERSON LOST.” I had half joked that if anyone amongst us was getting lost, it would be our obese friend and everybody had a good laugh. It was not funny anymore. 

Some very stunning landscape.
You didn't want to look down, trust me

The worst thing about a person getting lost in the mountains is that there is absolutely nothing you can do. There is no signal, no radio communication, no nothing. Technology wise you are degraded to the bare minimum. Since this was the case, calling any emergency unit was impossible. All we could was to pray and wish if it was finally time for Lord Shiva to descend on earth and help us out of this do unconceivable mess. We even started looking at the lake for any sign of mythical movement. The lake, however, remained calm and motionless. 

We had no option but to continue down and get our bottles refilled. We were confident that Anup could spot us from above and could relay any news regarding the person concerned. After doing so, we made our way back only to find Anup standing there with his hands on his head. He looked sick. We knew exactly what that meant. 

We had Bhote, a local dog, accompany us throughout

It was a circus after that. A disoriented, panicked circus where each clown had no clue about the act each needed to perform. There is this Nepali expression saying that a person with true character can think logically in an adversity but if that was the case, we were each devoid such mental strength. We were in such a state that sheer beauty that surrounded us had lost its power to placate our souls. We were utterly devastated but, importantly, hadn’t lost hope. How far could he have gone anyways?

Keeping that in mind, we spread out in three separate directions. I took the east side of the lake which had a better view of the whole landscape. While on my way on top of a small boulder, I noticed something moving far further east. Initially it looked as though I had spotted the Aboriginal Snowman, commonly known as the “Yeti”. However, as I clandestinely moved ahead to catch a better view, I realized that it was our old friend. Words cannot really express how relieved I was to see him huff and puff his way back. 

Reunion: had to put the camera on auto

As to why he decided to move towards the east is still a big mystery. Locals say that due to the lack of proper oxygen, hallucinations are common and it is possible that Alex could have seen us going in an entirely different direction. If his story is to be believed, he said that the Yeti kidnapped him and let him go but we didn’t really care much. We were just very pleased that he wasn’t much use to the Yeti. 

[As you might have guessed by now, the Yeti story is made up as well. It did the trick though.
The trek itself was really important to me because right after that, the floodgates opened. Next came Amalbesi, Lamtang and then back to Annapurna Base Camp. But among those, honestly, Tilicho-Thorongla trek presented the most thrill.

Facts about Tilicho:

Surface elevation: 4,949 m
Location: Annapurna, Himalayas
World Record Holders: Alex (you know why), some Russian dude who went scuba diving. I mean seriously?


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