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15th February 2001 - Page 2

Camp Cloud Nine

One hour drive right up from Mussoorie, through the clouds, to camp Cloud Nine. The drive was a thrilling experience in itself. The deadly cliffs were well mastered by the experienced driver. We were winding through one of the highest roads on earth. Looking around, our curiosity could be explained only by the beautiful view that surrounded us. It was like a wave of excitement when we started ascending the Himalayas. Everyone rushed to the windows, towards the better views. The winding streamline rivers that would go on to become enormous water bodies were but in their infancy then. On one side were the enormous mountains cut out to give way for civilization and the wild untamed rapids occupied the other side. Small villages became a distant yet common feature as we ascended.
Finally after a lifetime of journey in the bus we reached a place, not too sure what place. Many of us were getting used to ground again and looking around for our camp. This was not the end of journey either; we went on further for about half an hour to finally reach an old house, outside which, in the adjoining courtyard, our tents had been pitched.
After settling down and freshening up, we were taken to a place called Sunset Point. This place had more than a sunset, I carried with it, about 2 km. trek and chilling winds which gave us the first feel of the Himalayas. Some snaps, songs and chit chat followed at the Sunset Point. As we reached back the camp, we found what we had waited for the most after the long journey, good food. The food was a delight and after that, so was the night bonfire. What followed was something that deserves a mention - the Night Walk. This was something arranged by the camp personnel. We left at about 9:30 at night went on a trek through the near tracks. No Torches. They scared us in a very exquisite fashion that involved screaming and shouting. They were successful.
The night walk became a routine for the next three nights. The next day we went out for a trek to a distant temple on the opposite side of our camp. The trek proved a very common saying to us, "Climbing a hill is hard, but the view is from the top." The view certainly was worthwhile. We stayed up on the mountain for about an hour and then began our descend back to the camp. Again the food was the major cause of attraction. In the evening, the bonfire, singing and night walk followed, 
this time however, no strange screams were involved.
The following day, we went trekking and rock climbing. Personally, this was my first experience and a delightful one. For many, this was a day of daring, the first timers. The rock climbing also became an excuse for sitting in the sun and enjoying the heavenly view from the top. Small villages doting the landscape seemed like little spots on a rock canvas. The climb back was a strenuous one, cribbing was a regular occurrence at these kind of situations. The food again became the luring factor back at the camp. At sundown, the campfire followed and an unusual experience of flying in the air. Another activity that we undertook after coming back to the camp was dancing and carom. On occasions, food-eating competitions also amused us.
The last night spent at the camp was filled with excitement over the night walk and staying up late at night. The night walk this time was an unusual one too as groups of two were left in the middle of forested trails and asked to find our way back. By this time, we were adapted to the calmness and darkness that prevail in the mountains. When we returned, our stories of horrors knew no bounds, as told to our classmates.
Though we begged our teachers to stay sometime more and sit in Dehradun, our pleas were denied. A long journey back followed. We tried our best to make he best of our journey back and we did a good job at it. Singing, talking, laughing accompanied us all along. This was the last stretch of our camping trip and we made the most of it. I'm glad I decided in favor of going for the trip and hope that the same feeling of joy accompanies us in our next one. 

Partha Sarathi Mudgil
XI - A

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