On our first day the anglers -who all bear a striking resemblance to the lumberjacks in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers- took us to a swimming hole in the Assi Ganga River (a pristine tributary to the sacred Ganges), where we were nearly swept away to our icy deaths but which was spectacular fun. The next day P. and I were up at 4:30am and followed our machete-armed friends in the darkness up the side of a nearby mountain for what would be an insane, near-vertical day "hike." As the sun broke over the range we heard a barking deer’s eerie woof echo through the lowland jungle, and somewhere high in the rhododendron forest I found a porcupine quill (which bears an uncanny resemblance, since we’re on the subject, to a narwhal’s tusk). It was grueling. It was magical. Like everything in India.
Finally, after a vertical don’t-look-down sheer cliff scramble, we were rewarded with an unobstructed view of what we’d come all that way to see: the snowy peaks of the Great Himalaya Range. It was awesome in the most primitive, sublime sense of the word. The way back down was no less exciting; our friend’s boot fell apart not far from the top, and he descended five thousand feet off a Himalayan summit wearing a Patagonia fleece tied around his socked foot. Some twelve hours, fourteen miles, and ten thousand total vertical feet later, we rejoined the rest of the group back at camp for okra curry and hot toddies around the fire. And my god, was that the best night of sleep I can remember.
Click here to learn more about the marvelously simple Kuflon Basics; here for more info on the Himalayan fly-fishing outfit. I unequivocally recommend both if you’re ever in the spectacular state of Uttarakhand.